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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.
- “ Hâc in re scilicet unâ Multum dissimiles.”—HOR.
In a visit which we paid some time ago to our worthy contributor, Morris Gowan, we became acquainted with two characters; upon whom, as they afford a perfect counterpart to Messrs. “ Rhyme and Reason,” recorded in No. I., we have bestowed the names of Sense and Sensibility.
The Misses Lowrie, of whom we are about to give our readers an account, are both young, both handsome, both amiable : Nature made the outline of their characters the same; but Education has varied the colouring. Their mother died almost before they were able to profit by her example or instruction. Emily, the eldest of the sisters, was brought up under the immediate care of her father. He was a man of strong and temperate judgment, obliging to his neighbours, and affectionate to his children; but certainly rather calculated to educate a son than a daughter. Emily profited abundantly by his assistance, as far as moral duties or literary accomplishments were concerned ; but for all the lesser agrémens of society, she had nothing to depend upon but the suggestions of a kind heart and a quiet temper. Matilda, on the contrary, spent her childhood in England, at the house of a relation; who, having imbibed her notions of propriety at a fashionable boarding-school, and made a love-match very early in life, was but ill prepared to regulate a warm disposition, and check a natural tendency to Romance. The consequence has been such as might have been expected. Matilda pities the distressed, and Emily relieves them; Matilda has more of the love of the neighbourhood, although Emily is more entitled to its gratitude ; Matilda is very agreeable, while Emily is very useful; and two or three old Ladies, who talk scandal over their tea, and murder grammar and reputations together, consider Matilda a practised Heroine, and laugh at Emily as an inveterate Blue.
The incident which first introduced us to them afforded us a tolerable specimen of their different qualities. While on a long pedestrian excursion with Morris, we met the two Ladies returning from their walk; and, as our companion had already the privileges of an intimate acquaintance, we became their companions. An accurate observer of human manners knows well how decisively character is marked by trifles, and how wide is the distinction which is frequently made by circumstances apparently the most insignificant.
In spite, therefore, of the similarity of age and person which
existed between the two sisters, the first glance at their dress and manner, the first tones of their voice, were sufficient to distinguish the one from the other. It was whimsical enough to observe how every object which attracted our attention exhibited their respective peculiarities in a new and entertaining light. Sense entered into a learned discussion on the nature of a plant, while Sensibility talked enchantingly of the fading of its flower. From Matilda we had a rapturous eulogium upon the surrounding scenery; from Emily we derived much information relative to the state of its cultivation. When we listened to the one, we seemed to be reading a novel, but a clever and an interesting novel; when we turned to the other we found only real life, but real life in its most pleasant and engaging form.
Suddenly one of those rapid storms, which so frequently disturb for a time the tranquillity of the finest weather, appeared to be gathering over our heads. Dark clouds were driven impetuously over the clear sky, and the refreshing coolness of the atmosphere was changed to a close and overpowering heat. Matilda looked up in admiration ; Emily in alarm : Sensibility was thinking of a Landscape-Sense of a wet Pelisse. “ This would make a fine sketch," said the first : “ We had better make haste,” said the second. The tempest continued to grow gloomier above us : we passed a ruined hut which had been long deserted by its inhabitants. “ Suppose we take refuge here for the evening,” said Morris ; " It would be very romantic,” said Sensibility; “ It would be very disagreeable,” said Sense: “How it would astonish my father !” said the Heroine; “ How it would alarm him!” said her sister.
As yet we had only observed distant prognostics of the tumult of the elements which was about to take place. Now, however, the collected fury of the storm burst at once upon us. A long and bright flash of lightning, together with a continued roll of thunder, accompanied one of the heaviest rains that we have ever experienced. « We shall have an adventure!” cried Matilda : “ We shall be very late," observed Emily. “I wish we were a hundred miles off,” said the one hyperbolically ; “ I wish we were at home,” replied the other soberly. “ Alas! we shall never get home to-night,” sighed Sensibility pathetically; “ Possibly," returned Sense drily. The fact was, that the eldest of the sisters was quite calm, although she was aware of all the inconveniences of their situation ; and the youngest was terribly frightened, although she began quoting poetry. There was another, and a brighter flash; another, and a louder peal :-Sense quickened her steps,-Sensibility fainted.
With some difficulty, and not without the aid of a conveyance from a neighbouring farmer, we brought our companions in safety
to their father's door. We were of course received with an invitation to remain under shelter till the weather should clear up; and of course we felt no reluctance to accept the offer. The house was very neatly furnished, principally by the care of the two young Ladies; but here again the diversity of their manners showed itself very plainly. The Useful was produced by the labour of the Emily; the Ornamental was the fruit of the leisure hours of Matilda. The skill of the former was visible in the sofa-covers and the curtains ; but the latter had decorated the card-racks, and painted the roses on the hand-screens. The neat little bookcases too, which contained their respective libraries, suggested a similar remark. In that of the eldest we observed our native English Worthies, Milton, Shakspeare, Dryden, and Pope; on the shelves of her sister reclined the more effeminate Italians,—Tasso, Ariosto, Metastasio, and Petrarch. It was a delightful thing to see two amiable beings with tastes so widely different, yet with hearts so closely united.
It is not to be wondered at that we paid a longer visit than we had originally intended. The conversation turned, at one time, upon the late revolutions. Matilda was a terrible Radical, and spoke most enthusiastically of tyranny and patriotism, the righteous cause, and the Holy Alliance: Emily, however, declined. to join in commiseration or invective, and pleaded ignorance in excuse for her indifference. We fancy she was apprehensive of blundering against a stranger's political prejudices. However that may be, Matilda sighed and talked, and Emily smiled and held her tongue. We believe the silence was the most judicious ; but we are sure the loquacity was the most interesting.
We took up the Newspaper. There was an account of a young man who had gone out alone to the rescue of a vessel in distress. The design had been utterly hopeless, and he had lost his life in the attempt. His fate struck our fair friends in very different lights. “He ought to have had a better fortune," murmured Matilda ;” or more prudence," added Emily. “ He must have been a hero," said the first;—" or a madman," rejoined the second.
The storm now died away in the distance, and a tranquil evening approached. We set out on our return. The old gentleman, with his daughters, accompanied us a small part of the way. The scene around us was beautiful; the birds and the cattle seemed to be rejoicing in the return of the sunshine ; and every herb and leaf had derived a brighter tint from the rain-drops with which it was spangled. As we lingered for a few moments by the side of a beautiful piece of water, the mellowed sound of a Aute was conveyed to us over its clear surface. The instrument was delightfully played : at such an hour, on such a spot, and
with such companions, we could have listened to it for ever. “ That is George Mervyn,” said Morris to us. “ How very clever he is !” exclaimed Matilda ; " How very imprudent," replied Emily. “ He will catch all the hearts in the place!” said Sensibility, with a sigh : “ He will catch nothing but a cold !” said Sense, with a shiver. We were reminded that our companions were running the same risk, and we parted from them reluctantly.
After this introduction we had many opportunities of seeing them; we became every day more pleased with the acquaintance, and looked forward with regret to the day on which we were finally to leave so enchanting a neighbourhood. The preceding night it was discovered that the cottage of Mr. Lowrie was on fire. The destructive element was soon checked, and the alarm quieted; but it produced a circumstance which illustrated, in a very affecting manner, the observations we have been making. As the family were greatly beloved by all who knew them, every one used the most affectionate exertions in their behalf. When the father had been brought safely from the house, several hastened to the relief of the daughters. They were dressed, and were descending the stairs. The eldest, who had behaved with great presence of mind, was supporting her sister, who trembled with agitation. “ Take care of this box,” said Emily ;-it contained her father's title-deeds. “ For Heaven's sake preserve this locket!” sobbed Matilda ;-it was a Miniature of her Mother! .
We have left, but not forgotten you, beautiful creatures ! Often, when we are sitting in solitude, with a pen behind our ear, and a proof before our eyes, you come, hand in hand, to our imagination! Some, indeed, enjoin us to prefer esteem to fascination ;-to write Sonnets to Sensibility, and to look for a wife in Sense. These are the suggestions of Age ; perhaps, of Prudence. We are young, and may be allowed to shake our heads as we listen!
O'er yon Church-yard the storm may lower; ..
But, heedless of the wintry air,
One little bud shall linger there, . A still and trembling flower.
Unscathed by long revolving years,
Its tender leaves shall flourish yet,
And sparkle in the moonlight, wet With the pale dew of tears.
And where thine humble ashes lie,
It rises o'er thee, lonely one,
Mild was thy voice as Zephyr's breath,
Thy cheek with flowing locks was shaded ! .
But the voice hath died, the cheek hath faded In the cold breeze of death!
Brightly thine eye was smiling, Sweet!
But now Decay hath stilld its glancing ;
Warmly thy little heart was dancing, But it hath ceased to beat!'
A few short months,—and thou wert here!
And what is thy memorial now?
W. M. P.