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Title: Blue-Stocking Hall, (Vol. 3 of 3)
Author: Scargill, William Pitt
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Blue-Stocking Hall, (Vol. 3 of 3)" ***

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BLUE-STOCKING HALL.

J. D. NICHOLS, 25, PARLIAMENT STREET.



                           BLUE-STOCKING HALL.

        “From woman’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
        They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
        They are the books, the arts, the academes,
        That show, contain, and nourish all the world.”

                                              LOVE’S LABOUR LOST.

                            IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. III.

                                 LONDON:
                  HENRY COLBURN, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
                                  1827.



BLUE-STOCKING HALL.



LETTER XXVII.

FREDERICK TO EMILY DOUGLAS.


This, my dearest Emily, is the last letter which you will receive from
Frederick in London; and though time speeds on rapid wing in this focus
of attraction, I reckon the days with impatience till the heath-clad
tops of our dear mountains break upon my view. To travel, and see new
men and manners, would be too delightful, if mother and sisters were
with me, but, unfashionable as the confession may be, I own to the
_weakness_ of loving mine enough to make me wish to be always near
them. In a few days we are to set out, and Arthur starts for France,
when we turn our faces towards Glenalta. I fear that my uncle is not
gaining ground; there is a consultation every day, but it seems to me
as if many of these great doctors make up in _mannerism_ of one sort
or other what they want in penetration. One assumes a rough tone, and
thinks it for his advantage to act the brute, in order to assure his
patients that he is an honest man. Another looks as smooth as satin,
and prescribes such numerous and expensive remedies, that none but
a nabob could afford to be cured. A third experiments upon all the
vegetables and minerals in the modern Pharmacopœia, and “thrice slays
the slain,” before he stumbles by accident on the disease. If I am to
be killed by Esculapian skill, I would rather receive my _quietus_ from
a sober practitioner in the country, who had never heard of _arsenic_,
_digitalis_, or the _prussic acid_, than be torn piece-meal by a triad
of London physicians, who, ten to one, know as little of the case as of
the constitution submitted to them, and ceremoniously agree to put one
out of the world with the profoundest adherence to etiquette. I cannot
help thinking the business altogether a solemn farce, which I long to
see brought to a conclusion, and as I am growing every day more and
more attached to this near and dear relation, I look anxiously for his
removal, from what appears to me, a pick-pocket confederacy. The dread
with which my uncle’s manner at first inspired me, is gradually wearing
away. With Phil. and me he is charming, full of information, classical
taste, and literary criticism. He has a fund of humour also, which gives
variety to his powers of pleasing; and when bodily pain does not weigh
upon his spirits, he is a delightful companion, whose society will add
considerably to the pleasures of our winter fire-side. But his frown is
as awful as his smile is beaming, and would have petrified me long ago,
if I had ever encountered his brow in the act of concentrating its forces
upon me, as it does when aunt Howard and Louisa appear in his presence.
The whole horizon of his forehead is then hung thickly in clouds, a
morose expression marks his countenance, and a sullen silence indicates
displeasure, as far as the rules of common civility will permit. With
Arthur he is less unconstrained than with me; but I hope that ere we quit
London, there will be no difference in his feelings towards us. The kind
partiality with which he treats your Frederick is easily accounted for,
and arises _not_ from any comparison between the individuals in question,
or _I_ could not be his favourite. I should write with more satisfaction
than I feel at present, if I were not so soon to see you; but the
slowness of my pen makes me impatient, when I reflect on the _glibness_
of tongue with which I hope in less than a fortnight to pour out all my
news _vivâ voce_, for your amusement. Besides, when once the novelty
of the thing is over, there is a tiresome monotony in the routine of a
London life.

I have met with very few who deserve to be recorded for any
qualifications that distinguish individuals from each other. A certain
number of airs, and affectations, mixed with accomplishments and French
flounces, in proportions a little varying, but producing generally the
same result, may serve as a recipe by which to compound the modern belle;
and for the beau, a mixture somewhat different, without being in the
least more solid, will suffice as universally as the former; but Arthur
procured me an invitation the other day to a dinner party, which being
unlike its predecessors, I must particularize, reserving the names of the
_dramatis personæ_, till we meet, lest my letter should _miss stays_, and
its writer be prosecuted for a libel.

This dinner was given by a literary amateur, to several authors and
authoresses, who furnish our _running account_ of novels, essays,
disquisitions reviews, articles, fugitive poems, squibs, and _bon mots_.
And in the evening we had a numerous accession of both sexes, who were
brought together as professedly _bookish_ people, and therefore fit
audience for the writers who, I suppose, were expected to be speakers
also. I know, that I for _one_, went fully possessed with the idea, that
at least I should hear a great _quantity_ of discourse, however I might
chance to think of its _quality_; and, moreover, I was rejoicing for
two entire days at the prospect that lay before me: but disappointment
was the portion of every novice, who, like myself, looked for “a feast
of reason and a flow of soul.” Of all the dull uninteresting meetings
of which I ever happened to be a member, I willingly vote the palm of
pre-eminence to that at Sir Marmaduke Liston’s. However, as knowledge
is always valuable, I stand indebted to that assembly for one piece of
information, which, till now, I have taken upon hearsay evidence.

It was in Lady Liston’s drawing room that I first saw that gorgon, yclept
“_Blue-stocking_,” which we used to think was like other spectres, the
offspring of a distempered imagination. I can assure you that such
things are, and, if I was heartily disgusted with the authors at dinner,
I was no less heartily nauseated by the _Blues_ at tea. The former
only reminded me of rival tradesmen, who forgot a part of their craft,
namely, adulation of their patron, in the absorbing energy of their
hatred towards each other. As to _conversation_, we had none, for every
man seemed afraid to utter a sentence, lest his neighbour should slip
it into _a book_, and thus defraud the real owner. A few nods, shrugs,
and _hahs_, which might be interpreted _ad libitum_, occupied the place
of language, and constituted nearly the whole intercourse of _mind_
which was not directed to the _matter_ of fish, flesh, and fowls. On
_these_, indeed, and their individual merits, our _wittenagemot_ were
eloquent “with all alliteration’s artful aid;” and they also proved
themselves nothing loath to exercise whatever critical _acumen_ any of
them possessed on Sir Marmaduke’s wines which were discussed from humble
port to imperial tokay, with glistening eyes, glazed noses, and expanding
vests. Yet you may tell Mr. Oliphant that we had not even _allusion_
to a feast of the ancients, not a word of old Falernian, nor a single
glimmering of classic lore, though in the fields of Horace one would
imagine that the company might have expatiated on neutral ground without
danger of petty larceny on any side. One prodigious person, who seemed
like “Behemoth, biggest born,” and who quaffed accordingly, particularly
diverted me: he sat next to a tall thin phantom who looked of Pharoah’s
lean kine, and wore a little black cap on his skull, which appeared
as if “moulded on a porringer,” This shadowy form was, I was told, a
metaphysician, and certainly he gave me the idea of having come into the
world for the express purpose of illustrating the extension of tenuity.
He drank nothing but toast and water, and consequently had the advantage
of preserving such store of faculties as he brought to the entertainment,
in all their clearness, when his neighbours were “veiled in mist;” but
either the measure was so small, or the nature of his _wares_ prevented
them from being pilfered. Whatever the reason, so it was, that he seemed
to enjoy all the ease of a sinecure in guarding his mental property from
depredation. He, and his ample companion, threw glances at each other of
mutual contempt every now and then, and from time to time, as opportunity
presented itself, kept up at intervals a meagre snarl, altogether
divested of wit or point, till the big man, who, of a class that it might
be presumed

    “Had but seldom known the use
    Of the grape’s surprising juice,”

became so top heavy, that I saw his head gently let down, as if by a
pully and tackle, on the shoulder of the metaphysician, who not inclined
to enact the prop to a fallen foe, disengaged himself so abruptly from
this mountain of the muses (for Behemoth is a poet), that the chair on
which he sat, having glided away, the latter came down on the floor
plump, like a full sack that had broken from the crane. My gravity was
not proof against this downfall of Parnassus, and I made my way up stairs
as quickly as I could, only lagging behind a sufficient length of time
for the water-drinking philosopher to be lodged before me. Oh ye gods,
what an exhibition did I open upon! the only similitude which I can find
at hand for the drawing-room that presented itself, was a glass of some
highly bottled liquid, in which a froth of white muslin occupied the
upper, and a sediment of black cloth its lower extremity. Not a sound
was to be heard as I entered the room; but I soon perceived that the _et
ceteras_ of coffee, tea, cakes, and bread and butter, were not at all
more indifferent in the superior, than soups, meats, and wine had been in
the inferior regions of this intellectual _festum_. It quite astonished
me to see the quantity of all these appurtenances of the _soireé_, that
almost immediately vanished, “leaving not a wreck behind.” During the
consumption of these mere _creatures_ of the entertainment, certain
solemn sentences were fired at intervals, after the manner of minute
guns, each succeeded by a deadly pause.

The gentlemen below stairs sat a long time, but I was resolved to see
_out_ the evening, ere I passed judgment on a party of the literati. At
length the authors ascended, and, had I been a young lady, I should have
felt most unwilling

    ----“to meet the rudeness and swilled insolence
    Of such late wassailers;”

but the habits of the _trade_ triumphed over the occasional excess which
Sir Marmaduke’s hospitality had caused his guests to commit, and so
profoundly discreet was this book-making assembly, that while, on the one
hand, not a syllable that betrayed either taste or genius escaped, and
laid them open to plagiarism, I must do justice to the equal taciturnity
which they observed upon every subject less immediately connected with
the direct views of their calling; insomuch, that, for the greater
number, they withstood the most pedantic efforts, on the side of the
_blues_, to draw them out, and--with the exception of some tedious
verbiage pronounced, _ex cathedrâ_, by the man in the black cap, who,
perceiving the advantage which his abstemiousness gave him over the rest,
grew loquacious and collected a circle of ladies around him--One might
have imagined that rumination was the object of the meeting, and that the
members of this tiresome confraternity had come together principally for
the purpose of feeding first, and then chewing the cud on the subjects of
their next lucubrations. I never was so weary of the “human face divine,”
as on the memorable occasion which I have mentioned, and gladly banished
all recollection of a party, over which the goddess of dulness had
especially presided--in the most leaden slumber that I have experienced
since my arrival in the British capital.

I shall part from Arthur with such sorrow as a brother’s love might feel.
He must positively be a changeling in his mother’s house, so entirely
does he differ from his family. Yet in Louisa there are, as our country
taylor would say, “_the makings_” of something good, had she received
a decent education. But empty heads and flinty hearts are quite _the
thing_; and if nature throw away her labours, and, forgetting the class
on which she is operating, lavish fine faculties and gentle affections on
one of your _exquisites_, whether male or female, these, like troublesome
excrescences, must be amputated; and a better hand at performing such a
species of excision cannot exist than that of my aunt. Her influence is
enough to eradicate the deepest sensibilities, and cut to the quick the
most promising intellect. She cannot bear me, because my uncle takes kind
notice of me, and it is time that we should part; for a day in Grosvenor
Square seems to me as if passed in purgatory; though Arthur is there.

With true loves, adieu, and believe me

                            Your affectionate

                                                               FREDERICK.



LETTER XXVIII.

ARTHUR HOWARD TO FREDERICK DOUGLAS.


                                                                 _Paris._

My dear Fred.

Your letter, announcing safe return to the “happy valley,” found me
on the very eve of my departure to Dover. Need I say how welcome it
was?--Yes, you did indeed describe your feelings to one who could
participate in every sensation, and feel every beat of your heart, as the
well known land marks, the _termini_ that bound your glen of enchantment,
rose smiling in the western beam, above the misty fleece which had rolled
over their summits from the sea. I saw the first faggot blaze on the peak
of Lisfarne; I heard the first joyous announcement of Tom Collins, the
eager bark of Gelert, Eva, and Bran, the din of voices, the pattering
of bare feet across every path-way in the bog; in short, what incident,
however trifling, was a stranger to my breast that prepared for the final
folding in your mother’s arms?

How different my journey and my arrival at its termination! I could
have joined several gay parties, proceeding in the same route which
I was about to tread; but I was not in a humour for such company as
they offered, and so I preferred commencing my travels _solus_, Lewis
being only an appendage who permits me to be more alone than I should
be without him, by taking all the minor cares that belong to _chemin
faisant_ off my shoulders.

My mother and Louisa were to leave town on the day after I set out, and
are by this time at Selby--would that I could say enjoying the quiet of
that beautiful place; but the former, poor soul, is not happy any where,
and my sister, alas, though she feels little pleasure in the scenes
which she has left behind, cannot be expected to derive much from those
which in providing food, and giving time for meditation, bring no peace
to a bosom at war within itself. Louisa, I predict, will be an altered
character, but the work will be slow, and experience many interruptions.
I see, however, some very promising circumstances on which to build my
hopes. Adelaide’s marriage is already acting as a salutary beacon; and I
have extorted a faithful promise from Louisa that she will no longer give
encouragement to Lord G. Villiers, whose attentions, if they ended in a
serious address, would be directed by the same base motives which brought
Crayton and Adelaide together. Thus one great point is gained, but every
step which I achieve with Louisa, throws me farther back in my mother’s
regard; so the task is like that of Sisyphus, and very disheartening.

On reaching this place, I received letters from Falkland, and one from
my brother-in-law, entreating my interference with my uncle for a loan.
This I must peremptorily refuse, and cordially do I wish that the latter
had returned home a poor man, that such of his family, as are inclined
to love him, might indulge the feeling without suspicion of its purity;
and that such as would prey upon his very vitals, without regard to any
thing but the most sordid self-interest, should be kept from persecuting
and injuring his fine mind, by increasing the measure of its distrust.
He is not fond of me, but I love him because he has good taste enough to
distinguish you. Say every thing kind and respectful to him for me, which
you do not think him likely to reject, and with tender loves to the rest
of the dear group, I am, dearest Frederick, in haste,

                           Your affectionate,

                                                               A. HOWARD.



LETTER XXIX.

MRS. DOUGLAS TO MRS. E. SANDFORD.


You would have reason, my Elizabeth, to complain of my silence, were your
heart less alive than it is to the interesting occupations which have
devolved upon your friends of the valley; and though I am blessed with
such coadjutors as few can boast, there is employment for us _all_ in our
several departments.

My dear brother’s health declines so slowly, that the progress of disease
is scarcely perceptible, and deceives all the young group, as well as
the sanguine Oliphant; but I feel that Edward Otway and I are prophets
but too true when we agree in prognosticating a termination to all his
sufferings, whether of mind or body, that belong to this world, and
that too at no great distance of time. He has been so wearied out by
medicines, that he now resolves on trying the effects of a system in
which nature and affection shall be chief instruments. I submit to his
views in the full belief that a winter’s repose is necessary to his
existence, and as my solicitude is increased by the responsibility which
we encounter in permitting this dear invalid to remain so far removed
from what is called “the best advice,” you may suppose how continually my
thoughts are employed about him.

I had been prepared by Edward Otway’s letters, while he remained in
London, for finding my brother’s character deeply interesting; but I had
no notion in what degree, and my heart still lingers with him in the
moments of our necessary separation. He is a theme so engrossing, that I
could dilate much more upon it than the limits which I have prescribed to
myself will allow; but all that I have not time to write, you shall one
day hear, for I lay up every word that he utters, not only because of the
intrinsic value which I attach to his sentiments and opinions, but they
derive a sacredness from his present situation (hovering as the bright
spirit now is upon the confines of eternity), which keeps me almost
breathless in his company, lest I should lose a syllable that falls from
his lips. You already know what a _mine_ we have discovered, of the
richest treasure, under that scaly armour, in which he had fortified
himself against the anticipated assaults of such sordid principles as he
was accustomed to see govern the conduct of those men with whom early
habit had associated him. Imagine then the happiness of seeing all this
rough coating drop off, and present the sweetest, most confiding nature
to our view.

You and I have often watched the unfolding of that beautiful zoophyte,
the sea anemone, when, after having been left exposed, by the retreat of
the waves from its rocky asylum, to the chilling influence of a northern
blast, it expanded its delicate fibres to the soft returning tide; and
from a shrunk and shapeless thing, opened into a star of glowing and
transparent brilliancy. Just in such manner has the noble mind of our
precious invalid been blighted by the pitiless storms which rage along
the coasts of avarice and self-interest. In such manner also has he
unlocked his soul in this little sheltered bay, to the gentle flow of
affection. How thankful do I feel for the blessing of being permitted to
see this hour, and bear a part in the scene which Glenalta now exhibits!

The process of change too has been as quick as it is gratifying; a
cautious and alternating advance and recession would have been the
history of an ordinary mind, but the impulses of a generous character are
instinctive and uncalculating. They yielded at once in my brother to the
force of truth; and that reserve which is still occasionally observable
in his manner, expresses nothing like the coldness of doubt, but seems
only to say, “alas! why has this native element of kindness, this
congenial sympathy, been so long withheld, and why am I only learning,
for the first time, to bask in the warm sunshine, when the orb of day is
descending from his meridian, and hastening to hide his radiant beams in
the deep?” So powerfully do I feel impressed with a belief that this is
the secret language of his heart, that my eyes too often betray me, and
I am obliged to hurry from his presence, that I may avoid discovering my
emotion.

One little incident alone proclaimed the slightest vacillation in his
mind since he came here, and as it ended happily, and bore evidence to
the delicacy of my dear Frederick’s feeling, I have pleasure in recording
it.

A letter from Arthur, in which he expressed a wish that his uncle had
returned poor, in order to enjoy the luxury of being loved, with freedom
from the base insinuations that restrain the manifestation of affection,
and also speaking the pleasure which he experienced in the certainty
that his cousin is more highly considered than himself, was received,
and shewn to me some time ago, by my dear boy. Some allusion being made
to news from Arthur, my brother asked one or two questions about him,
which Frederick’s first unguarded movement led him to answer, by putting
his friend’s letter into his uncle’s hands; but instantly recollecting
the passage which I have mentioned, he altered his purpose, and blushed
so violently while he made an awkward reply, that a brow for the first
time overcast by clouds of suspicion, met my poor fellow’s eye, and
occasioned an unspeakable agony in his mind, which he saw no means of
relieving; for the same nice feeling that had stayed his first impulse,
forbade him to explain the subsequent embarrassment; yet he saw that an
unfavourable surmise, perhaps detracting from Arthur’s honorable motives,
was the alternative. Mr. Otway was in the room when this incident
occurred, and mentioned it to me in private. I immediately unravelled
the mystery, produced the letter for this dear friend, who shewed it
without Frederick’s knowledge, or mine, to his uncle; and the result has
been the most perfect understanding on all sides, and the completest
re-establishment of confidence on the part of my amiable guest.

My brother speaks with joy of never parting from me, and as every
consideration must give place to the hope of protracting his existence,
I shall not oppose his wishes, though I augur a removal from my cell,
which I never before contemplated, in fulfilling them. My poor invalid
talks of the Continent for next spring, and has heard so much of Turin,
that thither he has set his heart on going in quest of that which he will
never find. What is so far distant, may never come to pass; but I must
prepare for it, and _you_ know how painful to me is change of place;
yet the bitterest potion is mercifully diluted for us, if we attempt to
perform a _duty_ with cheerfulness; and He who “tempers the wind to the
shorn lamb,” will sustain me through whatever trials may be in prospect.

Winter has been for many years a heavy season with me. Long nights of
watchfulness, and sad musing, impede the progress of our daily task;
and the summer has been my comforter--its warm sunshine tempts abroad;
its bowery shades invite to rest; its long days furnish occupation, and
its short nights are often sweetly passed in gazing on the starry host,
and pondering on those mansions of eternal blessedness that lie beyond
the firmament. But this is mere indulgence, selfish indulgence, and my
present cares have taught me a lesson, which I ought to have learned
before. Engaged now from morning till night in trying to assuage the
sufferings of another, I have not time to dwell on sorrow of my own; and
winter glides away unperceived, except by the rapidity of its flight.

It will rejoice you to learn that our _great_ concern prospers; and the
earnest desire to infuse “that peace which passeth all understanding”
into the sinking spirit, has been blessed with success beyond our hopes.
No formal siege, no angry attack, no querulous disputation has been
opened here upon error and scepticism. We read, we converse, but we
patiently wait for the troubling of the waters ere assistance is offered.
The _forcing_ system surely deters many from entering the lists of
proselytism from the evil of their ways. You have often heard me say that
there is nothing like Butler’s Analogy for minds of a certain calibre,
which must have strong food. _Here_ is a new instance in proof of its
excellence. Our invalid is charmed with this masterly work, and pores
over it incessantly. We have got Tremaine too, of which so many various
opinions are in circulation: but as we have not yet finished it, I do not
say more at present.

              Adieu, dearest friend,

                    All, to all, with true affection,

                              ever yours is

                                                              C. DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXX.

FREDERICK DOUGLAS TO ARTHUR HOWARD.


                                                              _Glenalta._

Dearest Arthur,

Our letters to and fro, seem all to have reached their several
destinations in safety, and yours have truly been a rich resource this
winter in our retirement. Little did I imagine when we parted, that you
and I were likely to meet in a foreign territory before we shook hands
once more at Glenalta; but this letter is actually to be your manifesto
of full power to treat in my uncle’s name for all such accommodations
as may suit his circumstances and the number of our party at Turin,
whither you are directing your steps, you say, and where you may expect
to see us all, Mr. Oliphant excepted, in two months, should no unforeseen
interventions mar the present plan of proceeding.

How extraordinarily the most unlooked for events come round, and
sometimes turn up the very thing that we most desire, and which seemed
the least within our own power to accomplish!

My college course just finished, my degree taken, and the mind
experiencing the _pains_ of liberty, not its _pleasures_, how delightful
is this new direction of its activity! I cannot describe the feelings
with which I paid my last accounts to Alma Mater, and took leave _for
ever_ of a heap of books which now that I am not obliged to read, I dare
say I shall never be likely to open again.

Well, man is surely a perfect enigma! _Venteroli_, _La Place_, _La
Croix_, all those volumes with the red, blue, and yellow, covers, which
when lying on my table you used to call my _parterre of tulips_, and at
which I have often worked till my mind was reduced to a state of complete
inanition, became objects of affection when the task was finished,--_not_
that I had any inclination to continue the toil, when the necessity for
it had ceased; but I regretted the absence of that necessity, and sat
mournfully gazing on those books which I had longed so often to lay upon
the shelf. I felt exactly, I dare say, as a piece of clock-work would
tell us that it does, were it able to speak, when the main spring, after
being wound up to the utmost extremity of tension, is suddenly let go,
and flies back with proportionate and painful velocity. In short, I
know not how to express the collapsed, unstrung, nerveless condition of
my mind, which I suppose was somewhat over wrought by study, and the
repose for which I had so often sighed, had so little rest for me when it
arrived, that I should gladly have preferred the labour of a coal porter
to the relaxation which I had been anticipating with such impatience.

Doctor Evelyn is certainly right, when he says that every gratification
to be truly felt, must be _earned_; and when I ceased to _earn_, I ceased
to enjoy. All this egotism would be unpardonable if it were not necessary
to your right understanding of my present gratitude for the delightful
excitement in prospect.

Emily, Charlotte, Fanny, and I, have something new and stimulating to
talk of, and our preparations for quitting home already occupy hands as
well as heads. We build castles, lay plans, read books with reference to
our _travels_, and, by-the-bye, Em. and I are so completely bitten by
the idea of visiting the vallies of Piémont, that I prepare you now for
being pressed into the service. We are longing, too, to be acquainted
with your friend Falkland: and dear Phil. who has promised my poor uncle
to accompany the party, writes to Stanhope to meet us at Turin with Mr.
Oliphant, junior. So really it is quite an _embarras de richesses_, and
I should be too happy were it not for a few counteracting circumstances
which put a wholesome log about my neck, and restrain my buoyancy from
breaking into any indecorous exuberance.

The first in magnitude of these, is my uncle’s state of health, which
hangs a cloud over our spirits. He is so much beloved by us all, that to
witness his decline, gentle and almost imperceptible as it is, gives the
truest pain to every heart at Glenalta. For a long time after he arrived
here, I resisted conviction, and could not believe that my dearest mother
was not influenced by morbid melancholy in her forebodings; but she was
too well skilled in every symptom of the disease to doubt its progress;
and I grieve to say that every day adds testimony to the correctness of
her predictions. Nothing immediate is to be dreaded, however, while so
much bodily strength remains: but how sad it is to watch the increasing
emaciation, and witness the gradual decay of one who is dear to your
affections! You never saw a character so changed, or rather so developed
under a new aspect, as that of our uncle. All appearance of harshness has
subsided, every semblance of suspicion has given place to the kindest
expression of trust and affection. The effects are painful as they are
pleasing, as in learning to love we are taught to fear; and dread to lose
what we have so lately known how to estimate in all its excellence.

In considering him, he suggests the analogy of a fine instrument of music
that had been consigned to the cobwebs of neglect by the rude hands of
some ferocious banditti, who, in their barbarous attempts to draw forth
harmony, which refused to flow for them, crushed the sound-board and
tore the strings, then flung the sweet cremona to the crowd, who knew
nothing of its worth. Falling at length into the possession of one whose
delicate ear recognizes its full perfections, the structure is repaired,
the strings are tuned anew; and now the liquid tones are poured with
generous freedom, to repay that skilful touch, that refined taste, which
alone has power to unlock all its stores of melody. Such a musician is
my mother, and the attachment with which she has inspired my uncle, is
reflected on us all. Of you also dear Arthur he speaks as he ought to do;
and I have pleasure in thinking, that when we meet, you will be loved by
him, as you deserve to be by all who know you. Another grief is, that
_Domine_ is not to accompany us. His enthusiasm in pursuit of knowledge,
and the abundant store which he already possesses, so peculiarly qualify
him for travelling with delight to himself and benefit to others, that
it is cruelly vexatious to go without him. To see his younger brother
also, to whom he is attached with paternal tenderness, would be a great
indulgence. Yet all this he _insists_ on relinquishing, well aware,
though my mother did not utter a syllable on the subject, that her mind
was suffering a martyrdom at the idea of leaving Lawrence and all her
poor people without some hostage in their hands, to give security of
return, supply a channel of communication, disburse her weekly bounties,
and watch over the old, the sick, the helpless, and forlorn. Even the
assurance that Mr. Oliphant will remain at Glenalta, which is hailed
as a blessing by the people, cannot prevent the bitterness of their
lamentations; and these have such an effect in depressing the spirits of
our little party, that I long till we are absolutely _under weigh_; I
will not write again till we reach our journey’s end, as you may easily
suppose how completely I shall be occupied in the interim.

The sisters will depend on me for shewing them every thing worth seeing
as we go along, and I must try and not disappoint their expectations of
my skill in quality of _cicerone_. Adieu. All unite in loves.

                         Ever your affectionate,

                                                              F. DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXI.

MISS DOUGLAS TO MISS SANDFORD.


Dearest Julia,

Here is my last letter from Glenalta, but as I promised to _stake the
course_ for you from hence to Turin, you may expect short notices
at least from every resting place, and thus be enabled, as you
affectionately wish, to enter into all the feelings of your friends,
as they proceed in a journey which would be such unmixed happiness in
prospect, were we not leaving sorrowful hearts behind, and taking with us
a beloved relation whose fading form presents continual comment on the
vanity of human joys.

I look upon my dear uncle’s expressive countenance, and sometimes fix my
thoughts so intently on the world of spirits, while I contemplate the
mild intelligence of that deep-sunk eye, that I lose all idea of an
earthly travel, and could fancy that he is setting out upon a heaven-ward
pilgrimage, in which it is graciously permitted us to be the companions
of his way.

In some sort surely, this reverie is not the work of mere imagination;
for that he is not long for this world I begin to believe. That he is
destined for communion with the just made perfect in another, I cannot
doubt.

He has an angel to pilot his progress, and in all things he obeys that
voice which calls upon him to follow in the only path that leads to a
life of immortal blessedness. Mamma is for ever employed in reading to,
and conversing with him; and it is impossible to conceive any thing more
interesting than the dialogues to which I am sometimes a listener.

We are to go to Marsden before we set out on our tour. My uncle wishes
to see the place which he calls _home_--a word which fills me with
melancholy when he pronounces it. Alas! I fear that Marsden will not be
long a home to him; but some repose will be required before he proceeds
on his journey. I think that we are to sail from Southampton, and travel
through Normandy to Paris, which my uncle insists on our seeing before
we take up our abode at Turin. My mind is at present in such a state of
agitation, that I scarcely know how to define the emotions which are in
continual conflict, at one moment presenting nothing but images of grief,
and in the next exhibiting bright hope and trust, with all the airy train
of “pleasures yet untried.” If I could take Glenalta, and all the dear
_Penates_ that I must leave behind; but if, and if, would lead us into
labyrinths which I must not enter, or perhaps I might feel not satisfied
with dislodging this little valley, but increasing in my demands, might
pray that the kingdom of Kerry, _perhaps_ the whole of Ireland might
accompany me; and improved as are the powers of accommodation by the
magical working of steam, I question the capacity of any packet, on any
construction, to transport the hundredth part of those objects which
my troublesome affections would have ever present, were such things
possible.

Fairies are out of date, and we must be resigned. Worthy Mr. Bentley
takes the approaching departure of my uncle so much to heart, that I
shall not be surprised if Mount Prospect, like Birnam Wood, should put
itself in march, and come to Turin instead of Dunsinane. Mrs. Fitzroy
used to be very entertaining in her attacks on our good friend Mr.
Bentley, and asked him one day, when he had said something that provoked
her, what could possess him to give such a name to his place; adding, “I
assure you, Mr. Bentley, that _sort_ of name is quite generic; it marks
a class so decidedly that I could not be mistaken in peopling a Mount
Prospect, a Bettyville, or O’Sullivan’s Lodge, with exactly appropriate
inhabitants, and such as I do not imagine that you would like to
acknowledge for your relations.”

Our neighbour comically replied, “Madam, if what you say be true, a name
is of more importance than I thought, and I feel less inclined than ever
to part with that which has the power of conjuring up to your view my
grandfather, honest Roger Bentley, who named the farm which I inhabit
Mount Prospect. No, Madam, fond as I am of my ancestors, though they were
neither possessed of rank or fortune, I should be ashamed, if, instead
of being sheltered by a solid _lump_ of a house fit for our climate, I
was perched upon the top of a hill in some fine Italian edifice, spread
out with corridors, supported on piazzas, and looking as if it had
been blown, by contrary winds, like a tropical bird, into our bogs by
accident. Your Tivolis, Valambrosas, and Rialtas are capital absurdities,
Madam; and I should blush were I obliged by filial respect to defend
them; but, thank God, _my_ parents were plain worthy people, who built a
snug square house, and called it Mount Prospect.”

Mrs. Fitzroy told him that the wings, colonnades, and transalpine
nomenclature, were as ridiculous in her eyes as in his, “but,” added she,
“I find you very ready to inveigh against one class of follies, while
you are all clemency towards others; and as to the names of your country
seats in Ireland, they are quite a reproach to you as a nation. If I
hear that I am going to visit at _Oakpark_, I am certain that I shall
see a desert moor, with a few ten-year old elms, thinly scattered, and
paled in with hurdles, to prevent the sheep from barking them. If I am
to call at _Hazlewood_, I am equally sure to find no wood at all, or at
most an old hawthorn bush in solitary abstraction. _Hollybrook_ has, I am
convinced, neither brook nor holly near it. _Rockview_ has, probably, not
a stone larger than an orange to be seen within its precincts; and so on
of a thousand other misnomers that I could enumerate.”

I remember that Mr. Bentley was _rising_ in choler, as he felt _lowered_
from not being ready at reply; but dear Domine flew to the rescue, and
seeing the commotion of our worthy friend, he brought him off with a sort
of triumph, by assuring Mrs. Fitzroy that oaks _had_ stood where now
there are only the ghosts of these forest kings; that rocks _had_ been
where now the quarryman’s pick-axe has left a level plain; that brooks,
which meandered once, are now dry; and that our names are often remnants
of our former, not indications of our present pride. I forget how the
conversation ended, but it amused me at the time that it happened, and
slipped out of my recollection, till having written Mount Prospect, that
name revived the remembrance of a combat which diverted us.

I shall pity George Bentley, when he loses so many friends with whom he
is accustomed to pass a part of almost every day, but he will bear it
better than Frederick would do in the same situation. How wonderfully the
good and evil of life are balanced! Sensibility increases every pleasure,
but as certainly augments every pain. George seems always to enjoy a sort
of calm tranquillity, which generally defends him from any species of
excitement. Is he happier than those of more sensitive structure? perhaps
about the same. He gains on the one side what he loses on the other. He
is an excellent young man, but he wants light and shade, that is, he
wants variety. Characters, like countries, may be too little diversified,
and in the midst of the highest cultivation, I should sigh for the sweet
glens, and bowery labyrinths that lie in retreat, and offer their
refreshing charms to those alone who love to seek their deep recesses. We
hear from Arthur frequently, and I grieve to tell you that his letters
bring us sad accounts of the Craytons. Mr. Otway, I believe, has made an
effort to obtain some money from my uncle, but with what success I know
not; however I greatly fear that no moderate sum would be of more than
temporary use, for Lord C. is a determined gambler, and poor Adelaide
has plunged into every sort of extravagance without supplies adequate to
sustain it. Dear Arthur’s anxiety is corroding his spring time of life;
and my poor aunt, I am told, is not lightening his uneasiness. These
are gloomy subjects, and I will release my dearest Julia from their
melancholy influence.--Adieu dear friend,

                           Your affectionate,

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXII.

FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.


                                                               _Marsden._

My dearest Julia,

Here we are, and my letters have so punctually informed you of each stage
in our journey, that I resolved on arriving at this beautiful place to
look about me, and grant a respite to my pen, ere I gave you an account
of Marsden and its surrounding scenery. The mere fact of our arrival
was mentioned by mamma to your dear aunt; and at the distance of a
fortnight from the short letter which conveyed that intelligence to our
beloved friends at Checkley, I gladly resume my office of journalist,
recommencing my task with the delightful news that my uncle is a great
deal better than when we first reached this house. The symptoms of his
disorder, at _least_, appear to be suspended, and it is impossible not
to yield, in some measure, to the sweet persuasions of hope. Mamma shakes
her head, and, though she will not repress our joyful anticipations,
I perceive with pain that _we_, the young and inexperienced, make no
impression on her mind, when we endeavour to gain her over to our own
bright visions of recovery. Whether it be the change of air, the novelty
of the scene, or that we are naturally inclined to feel a particular
interest in whatever is our _own_, I will not pretend to determine; but
certain it is, that from some happy cause my dear uncle is apparently
much invigorated, and seems to enjoy life doubly himself, since he has
come to a place where he is the immediate dispenser of pleasure to all
around him. His desire to see us gratified, stimulates every action;
and we are obliged to suppress, with care, every half-formed wish, lest
he should be led into more exertion to indulge our curiosity than is
good for him. Julia, you bid me tell you _truly_ how I like your noble
country, and you tell me also to employ the same candour in describing
my feelings respecting the people with whom I meet. Fortunately for me
you were born in Ireland, though all your early associations are English,
and therefore I feel bold in taking some liberties with this country,
which all your encouragement could not induce me to venture upon, were
it your actual birthplace. The beauty of England indeed I admit, without
any drawback, and if I confess that I love my own hills and vallies
better, such predilection is easily resolvable into affections which may
often bestow pre-eminence where it is intrinsically wanting, and raise
the barren wild without depressing the cultured garden. This kingdom
with which I was only acquainted before as a child, and which therefore
possesses all the charms of novelty in addition to its other attractions,
in my eyes appears a perfect paradise, so rich, so cultivated is every
part of it; and if I sometimes long for a tangled dell like that of the
“Retreat,” I am bound in honesty to confess what an extent of cheerless
waste I must travel over, ere I could be indulged by a sight of its soft
shades again.

_Here_ then there is a fair _set-off_ which squares accounts; but I come
now to the _people_, who bold the same relation, in every country, with
the land which they inhabit that the kernel of a nut bears to the shell;
and here I unhesitatingly declare my preference for the Irish character
beyond any specimens which I have as yet met with in English society,
provided always that you suppose me to compare people of education with
each other. If you _descend_ in the scale, the balance is greatly in
favour of the English, whose trading and yeomen classes exhibit patterns
which I wish my countrymen would copy; but in the extreme of the series
we Hibernians hold up our heads again, and though our peasants may be,
and alas are, more meanly fed, clothed, and lodged, than the sleek sons
of Albion, there is a union of heart and intelligence to be found in
every Kerry cabin, of which I would not give up one little grain, for
all the artificial benefits in the power of bacon and beans to confer
upon these votaries of good cheer. Certainly, one half at least of every
Englishman amongst the lower orders must be _stomach_, and if so, a
stranger need not be surprised at the unceasing anxiety expressed to
provide for the due support of such extensive capacity; but there is more
room for the exercise of our affections, where the mere animal range of
the human economy is not the Aaron’s rod that swallows up all the rest.
The eating and drinking _here_ are quite astonishing to one accustomed to
our aërial diet; and I have no doubt that an English _mind_ is subdued by
weight of matter, as effectually as fire is smothered by the pressure of
wet sods.

There is something so beneath the dignity of human kind, when compared
with the inferior creation, in submitting thus entirely to _animal_
control, and being only the thing which a full or scanty meal may
determine, that, much as I desire to behold some amelioration of my dear
Paddy’s lot, I hope I shall never live to see his bright imagination
quenched in ale, nor his light heels fettered by the leaden influence of
over-feeding on beef and pork.

But to return to Marsden (which, though sold from the caprice of its
former possessor for £50,000, is said to be worth double that sum),
it seems to me a fit residence for a prince. We have a splendid house,
magnificent grounds, hot-houses, conservatories, and all the long line of
fine and handsome appendages to rank and fortune, for which I have made
the discovery, that I possess no taste, unless upon the quiet scale of
Glenalta, where, by the bye, we have just as good and as pretty things
in the fruit and flower way as any situation can boast. The views from
Marsden are superb, and on a clear day command an immense extent.

We have had crowds of visitors coming to pay their compliments to my
uncle, who has the reputation of being enormously rich; and whether it
be that there is really nothing to interest in the character of our
neighbourhood, or that the heartlessness of an acquaintance formed on the
ground of mere wealth, has nothing congenial with my disposition in the
nature of its cement, I perhaps ought not to determine too hastily; but
though we have seen a great many people, I have not as yet met with any
who has left on my mind a distinct impression. I had often heard that
the English are reserved, and I expected to find them silent. This is not
the case as far as my experience extends; but were I to furnish a motto
for the talkers who have fallen in my way, it should be “_beaucoup parler
et rien dire_.” To be sure we have come at a bad time, for we are in
the midst of an election for the county, which occupies every creature,
rich and poor, to the exclusion of every topic unconnected with itself;
and yet, though I have tried to interest myself in that which engages
the attention of all, down to the little children who have got party
badges for play-things, and have learned to shout for the candidates to
which they severally belong, I have not heard a single syllable in which
a stranger could sympathize--not a word of parliamentary fitness--no
mention of head or heart that could induce one to hope for this one
or the other amongst the combatants. I am sick of the sounds, “weight
of influence, county men, borough interests, large estates, numerous
tenantry,” &c.

My uncle has made a point of our accepting several invitations, though
he is not able to dine out himself; and the only pleasure which I derive
from compliance with his wishes in this matter, is found in the amusement
which our remarks afford to this dear and pleasant host, who would be
a gem in society himself were bodily weakness not to impede the flow
of a mind replete with sense and information. To enjoy at _home_ the
conversation of three such beings as mamma, Mr. Otway, and my uncle, has
the effect perhaps of making me fastidious; but the goddess of dulness
seems to have taken under her especial care every dinner-party in which
I have been forced to mingle since I came into Hampshire. While we are
in the drawing-room there is an attempt sometimes made to take _us_ into
the circle, which would be very diverting to witness as a mere looker on,
but which is very fatiguing to those who must reply. There is a certain
activity of manner, apparently quite distinct from natural good spirits,
which seems to be the fashion at present amongst the young people of
my own sex; and they assail me with an incessant _giggle_, forming a
running accompaniment to the silliest, most objectless questions about
Ireland, as if it were a kingdom in the moon. One tells me that she
wonders I do not speak with a brogue; another asks whether there are
public amusements in _Dublin_, a third inquires whether “the castle” is
really a castle or not, and before it is possible to answer, hops off
to something else; a fourth absolutely entreated me to tell her whether
there were not still existing in the remoter parts of the island, a few
of the aboriginal wild Irish with wings, and laughed immoderately at her
own wit. All these flat stupidities are uttered with an air of hilarity
so perfectly uncalled for, by the occasion, that it makes me stare. If
the object be to proclaim that the spirits never flag, the method is
_round-about_, only proving the fact by implication that _if_ people
can laugh _without_ reason, they must, by an irresistible argument, be
supposed capable of excitement when any cause of merriment appears.

From girls of my own age I have flown to the matrons, in hope of some
relief from “lively dulness which ever loves a joke;” and so far I have
not been disappointed, that in joining the elder groups I have found
_rest_, because, not being prepared to enter upon the subjects which they
discussed, I have quietly sat by, recovering my spirits while they talked
of their nurseries, indispositions, and all the births, marriages, and
deaths, past, present, and to come, of the whole county.

As mamma never leaves my uncle, she is spared much weariness of mind,
which would not be counterpoised to her by the novelty which makes some
amends to us, the younger branches of the household. Mr. Otway performs
the part of _Chaperone_; and on our return home we find the cords of
affection more tightly drawn towards that delightful society with which
heaven, in its bounteous mercy has blessed our happy fire-side. It is,
however, only doing justice to inform you, that we have not yet seen some
charming people who are reported to inhabit this vicinity. One family
is in France, and two others, who are I am told really worth knowing,
are prevented from coming to see us by domestic affliction. You are to
take my saucy criticisms, then, with due allowance, and not conclude
me to be an indiscriminating bigot, who finds fault with all things
exterior to her own particular pale. With this qualification I will
continue my comments, and venture to express a wonder, that where wealth
and situation lead us to expect good breeding, there should be such a
deficiency of it as to exclude from conversation all who are not intimate
through locality with a petty circle of subjects that possess no general
interest, and are incapable of eliciting any one observation in which a
stranger can participate. How _can_ people fancy themselves agreeable
while they are telling the minutest particulars of a teething fit, or
_cackling_ over an interminable list of weddings and wedding wardrobes?
Amongst the gentlemen, the _elders_ devote to prophecying upon the
probable effects of the present drought, all their mental powers which
are not absorbed by the election, and amongst the more youthful there is
the most deplorable lack of intellect in all that I have heard them say
to each other, while to the _female_ part of their acquaintance nothing
can exceed the inanity of their addresses: “Were you at the flower-shew?”
“Shall you go to the race-balls?” “Do you ride?” “Do you like rowing?”
are the only sounds that live upon my memory, and the above questions
have been asked to Charlotte and me so repeatedly, that we might almost
be excused if, like Dr. Franklin on entering an American town, to save
the trouble of inquiry, we were to set up a little placard answering in
large letters, Yes or No, to these and some similar interrogatories,
under a supposition that they will be proposed anew at every turn of the
street. It is sometimes almost ludicrous to see a young man suddenly
start from long forgetfulness that a lady was sitting on one side while
he had been discussing the merits, perhaps of a fishing-fly on the other;
and turning rapidly round, propose some interrogation quite unconnected
with what he had uttered the moment before. This division of topics into
male and female genders is very unlike what I have been accustomed to,
and strikes me as a marked difference between English and Irish society,
by no means favourable to the former. We were the day before yesterday
at a great dinner, and I sat next to a Mr. Johnson, who is eldest son
to a baronet of large fortune in this neighbourhood. So long a time
had elapsed before he condescended to speak to me, that I had hopes of
being entirely forgotten, which, however mortifying to my _pride_, was
compensated by the kindness of a _nice crisp_ little elderly gentleman
on my left hand, who, with great goodnature, talked to me of his crops
in such a manner as to make me feel that he thought himself conversing
with a rational creature, capable of estimating the signs of the times,
and understanding the difference between wheat and barley, turnips and
mangel worsel. But though Mr. Johnson had sat during half an hour with
his back turned upon me while he was talking over, in horrible detail,
a pugilistic match fought near Portsmouth a few days ago, the movement
of my head in bowing to some one who had asked me to drink wine, brought
me in a flash of recollection to his mind, and I could scarcely preserve
my gravity, when, like lightning, he _whisked_ round, and said, as if
for a wager, it was so rapidly done, “Do you waltz?” I feared that this
was a beginning which augured a long list of balls, respecting which I
should have the humiliating confession to make that I had not been at one
in my life; but I was spared this lowering avowal as the entire notice
which he took of the simple negative with which I replied was contained
in the monosyllable “_Oh_,” which, by the bye, is the most comprehensive
little word except _nice_ in the colloquial intercourse of England; and
from the variety of meaning which the several intonations of voice with
which it is pronounced, are capable of imparting, assumes as wide a range
of interpretation as the “Spectator” allots to the exercise of the fan.
There is the _oh_, inquiring; the _oh_, surprised; the _oh_, satisfied;
the _oh_, contemptuous; the _oh_, affected; the _oh_, languid; the _oh_,
inquisitive; the _oh_, doubtful; in short, there is scarcely a state of
the mind which an English provincialist cannot contrive to convey by a
correct modulation of the many keys upon which may be played those two
letters; and as for the twin-brother of this _multum in parvo_--_nice_, I
heard it on one day lately, applied to Lord Eldon, who, a lady near me,
said, was a “nice chancellor.” Afterwards to the French nation, who, a
gentleman opposite, declared, are the nicest people in the world; then to
Der Freischütz, Miss Stephens, a calve’s head, wild ducks, the Hampshire
breed of pigs, red Lammas wheat, Cheshire cheese, cream, coffee, and the
Courier! Does _nice_ mean _any_, or _every_ thing?

An old gentleman called here this morning, who amused me so much by a
dry good humour, which brought Mr. Bentley, and visions of my beloved
Glenalta to memory, that I long to be better acquainted with him. I owe
him my gratitude also for entering the lists most gallantly, in quality
of my defender, and saying for me, to that tiresome Mr. Johnson, whom I
have already introduced to you, what I never could have said for myself.
They entered the library together, and found me reading the newspapers to
my uncle, who, on perceiving that I was going to make my escape, gently
restrained my movement by laying his hand on my arm, and desiring that I
should stay and help him to entertain his visitors. When they came in,
and the usual comments on the weather and state of the roads were ended,
the old gentleman appeared occupied in conversation with my uncle, when
the young one turned round to me, and taking up the paper which I had
laid down, with that self-sufficient air of conscious superiority which
so many young men ridiculously assume, and in a tone which implied as
much contempt as indifference would permit him to express, drawled out
“Pray, Miss Douglas, are you a politician?” I knew not what to say, and
I suppose looked as foolish as I felt, which old Mr. Bolton appeared
to observe, and with an alacrity of kindness worthy of the chivalrous
ages, he made an answer for me, which, if it did not _satisfy_, at least
silenced the enquirer. “I hope that Miss Douglas takes pleasure in
reading the newspapers,” said my knight, “newspapers contain the history
of the present time, and while that of the past is read by all who do
not desire to be branded for their ignorance (here he cast a sidelong
glance at the younger visitor), I see no reason why a lady should disdain
useful knowledge, because it is not _yet_ presented to her in the form
of a _book_;” then changing the subject, before I had power to speak, he
added, “But, Miss Douglas, pray tell me how you like Hampshire, and what
you think of John Bull, who, I am afraid, seems a rude sort of animal in
your eyes?”

This was said so gaily, that I did not suffer the least confusion, and
resolving that I would not bring discredit by my _niaiserie_ on dear
Ireland, I took courage, and replied, that Hampshire was beautiful,
and when the _election_ was over I would tell him how I liked the
inhabitants, as _then_ I might hope to become acquainted with them.

Mr. Bolton laughed heartily, and answered with the pleasantest animation,
“Be assured, my dear young lady, that the election which you deprecate,
is a better friend than you think, and saves you from the fancy-ring
and white mustard-seed, which are the favourite topics that have
succeeded the Catholic question just _gone by_. Now I conceive, from
your countenance, that you would not like the pugilistic platform better
than the hustings, nor find the stomach a more interesting subject of
conversation than the _poll_: what say you?”

I was delighted with my champion, and told him merrily that he was very
right, and I would take care how I repined again.

“Believe me,” continued he, “that you, who seem to have been brought up
in the school of nature and reason, have little idea how widely what
is called the world, departs from both. It is not enough now-a-days to
furnish your house, and adorn your person according to a received rule,
you must eat, drink, sleep, think, or not think, fashionably. You must
be of one consent in sickness as in health; if indisposed, you must be
_fashionably_ indisposed, and as fashionably cured. Four or five years
ago every body of any pretension was afflicted by determination of blood
to the head, and hence, lancet, leeches, and cupping, were in wonderful
activity. The head is now entirely out of fashion, except amongst the
dandies and phrenologists, and the stomach takes precedence of every
other topic, in a well organized society. As you are young, and have
not perhaps made your _debut_, I will give you a hint or two to prepare
you for _good company_. Young ladies of your age, play, sing, waltz,
and dress; talk of Der Freischütz, Weber, and Pasta; laugh a great deal
when there is nothing to laugh at, which shews ability, for _any_ one
could be merry if a _subject_ were allowed, and are silly, envious, and
unfeeling _ad libitum_. Young gentlemen of my friend Mr. Johnson’s age,
ride, fight, row, play whist, hunt, fish, shoot, and talk nonsense;
occasionally dancing and flirting, as the necessity of circumstances
may require; but by no means spoiling your sex, by paying any of those
polite attentions which might lead to insubordination, the more alarming,
as were your masters to lose any thing of their presumed superiority,
they might be ill prepared to recover the lapse of power, unless by a
barbarous appeal to physical strength. The _matron_ class you will find
as well as the well-bred men of a _certain standing_, eating mutton
chops, at intervals, to the amount of a certain number of ounces, with
which no mixture of liquid is permitted, from eight o’clock in the
morning till the same hour in the evening. You will see them likewise
swallowing white mustard-seed by wholesale, and swearing to its sovereign
efficacy in every possible disorder of the human frame. It will naturally
suggest itself to you, that any demand upon the _brains_ would be
unreasonable, now that the casket which contains them is less carefully
attended to than before, and therefore, as an act of justice, fashion
very equitably dispenses altogether with the presence of intellect, which
is enjoying a long vacation.”

I love this old man for his good humour and good sense; and, more than
for either, because his sallies excessively diverted the invalid left in
my charge by the rest of the party, who had gone to return a visit at
some distance from Marsden, and who came back before Mr. Bolton had taken
his departure.

Mr. Johnson went first, and when he had made his bow, my uncle asked
whether his father, Sir Thomas Johnson, were not a very rich man.

“Yes,” replied Mr. Bolton, “he is _called_ by courtesy a rich man. He has
an immense extent of property, which gives him considerable influence;
but he is so _poor_, notwithstanding, that he cannot command a hundred
pounds in ready money, while he is governed by such an inordinate pride
that he would rather die than shorten his rental by an inch of paper,
in selling off land enough to pay the charges on his estate. He is,
however, a kind hearted, hospitable man, who married late in life, and
thinks his only child, who has just been paying his respects to you, a
_sans pareil_, whose hand will amply recompense the largest sacrifice of
fortune that can be made to attain it. It is now his great object in life
to marry his son, and, though he idolizes pedigree, he thinks his own so
transcendent that it will ennoble any inferior race; for which reason he
gives it to be understood that family is less an object with him than
wealth.”

“And pray,” said my uncle, “what sort of young man is Mr. Johnson?”

“Empty, pompous, and good-natured,” answered Mr. Bolton. “He has walked
so many years up and down a long gallery of portraits, that he honestly
believes ‘the boast of heraldry’ to belong peculiarly to his house. As
he was never sent to school, he had no opportunity of comparing himself
with his superiors, and was not compelled to find his true level by the
discipline of a _fagging_ system, or the aristocracy of rank. A private
tutor indulged his early indolence; toad-eaters and retainers flattered
his youthful vanity; and a short stay at Oxford has put the finish to his
education by sending him home an accomplished boxer, rower, and judge of
champagne. He is, as may naturally be expected, very extravagant, and
such a darling with his parents, that, notwithstanding the difficulty of
raising supplies, no curb has ever been put upon his expenditure.”

“Then,” observed my uncle, “I suppose that he is _himself_ also looking
after a wife.”

“Precisely so,” answered Mr. Bolton, “and I have no doubt is certain of
success wherever he may fix his attention.”

I could not help thinking how little I should envy the future Lady
Johnson, whoever she might be, but the conversation was interrupted here
by mamma’s return; and in a few minutes Mr. Bolton took his leave.

I have written a long letter, but I know that you are interested in all
that we say and do, so I need never apologize for being minute in my
details. My uncle has some business to do which will detain him here for
some weeks longer, and I shall hope to hear from you and write again
before we sail for France.

Well, though we are here in the midst of all that is beautiful and
luxurious, my heart pines after Glenalta, and I dream continually of
the scene at parting from so many dear objects that we left behind.
Switzerland, however, will charm me I am sure, and I promise myself a
rich feast in those Alpine wilds which we are to visit. How astonishing
to me is the preference which I often hear expressed for the artificial
world over that of nature! Not all the splendour of this fine place
could ever win me from the dear heathy mountains of Kerry. Fine things do
not warm my heart, nor captivate my imagination; and I never find myself
coveting my neighbours’ goods as I pass through the sumptuous dwellings
that surround us here. All _my_ violations of the tenth commandment are
kept for an humbler scale of beauty, but one far more interesting in my
view of the matter.

The sisters unite in kindest love; and now, dearest Julia, farewell.

                           Your affectionate,

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXIII.

ED. OTWAY, ESQ. TO REV. MR. OLIPHANT.


                                                               _Marsden._

My dear and excellent Friend,

I begin my letter with news which, if it convey to you in any proportion
the pleasure which its announcement imparts to me, may well be called
cheering intelligence. From the time that General Douglas heard of our
late rector’s illness, he was anxious to procure the succession of that
parish, in which Glenalta stands, for you; but doubtful of his power to
accomplish the end in view, he begged that you might not be informed of
his design. Last night’s post put us in possession at the same moment
of the papers which mention Mr. Green’s death, and a letter stating
the agreeable information that all difficulties in the way to your
preferment are smoothed by the general’s promise to provide for a young
person, by the gift of a small living, of which he has the advowson, in
this country. The joy of this little circle is quite vociferous. Your
young friends have not slept, I believe, since the glad tidings were
communicated; and would gladly resign the happiness of travelling into
new scenes, for the gratification of helping to make the bonfires which
they think will redden the horizon in token of good will upon the present
occasion. I heard Fanny telling her brother this morning that she had no
doubt St. John’s Eve never presented such a blaze upon the Beacon Hill,
as your appointment will kindle. This is a bold prophecy, but she stakes
her credit on the justness of her prediction.

Now, my dear Oliphant, I have a request to make, which you will not
refuse. The glebe house wants a library to make it comfortable. I enclose
you a draught for £500, and desire that, by the time of my return, I may
find you in possession of a room in which you can write your sermons, and
pore over your _Elzevirs_ in all the quiet of abstraction from household
cares. Poor Mrs. Green and her children will be desirous to leave their
present abode, I dare say; and you will oblige me by requesting them, in
my name, to make use of Lisfarne, as an asylum, while it may suit their
convenience. When they have evacuated your new premises, desire Barnes,
my steward, to send trees, shrubs, and plants, of whatever kind you may
want, to furnish your garden and shrubbery.

And now I must tell you an anecdote of your friend Frederick, which will
delight your heart. His uncle, who wins hourly upon our affections,
alarmed us a few days ago by a fainting fit, which seemed to threaten
sudden dissolution, but before the arrival of a physician, for whom we
sent to the next town, his sister’s skill had brought him back to life,
and his eyes opened on a group of such tender and genuine mourners, as
must have gratified the best feelings of his breast. For a day or two
Dr. Pancras looked grave, and paused in giving his opinion; but the dear
general has rallied considerably, and wishes to hasten his departure.

On Tuesday evening Mr. Peltry, the solicitor, reached Marsden from town,
bringing with him the title deeds of this place, and some other papers of
consequence. On the following day, after breakfast, my valued friend sent
for me to his study, desiring that Frederick should join us immediately.
As soon as we were together he took his nephew by the hand and said, “My
dear boy, I have sent to London for the gentleman who arrived last night,
in order that I may legally dispose of my property, and provide for some
who are dear to me before ‘I go hence, and am no more seen.’ I intend
Marsden for you, and wish that this kind guardian (turning his eyes upon
me), who has aided your beloved mother in the task which she has so
admirably performed, should be witness to my purposes. There is but one
condition which I desire to propose in leaving Marsden to you. It is that
you should all live here during the next five years, or till the marriage
of your sisters may naturally occasion a dispersion of the family. After
this trial, which will be of sufficient length to ascertain the _wishes_
of each individual, if you should prefer Ireland to England, you are
at liberty to bring this place to the hammer. I bought it myself; it
is no hereditary possession. I shall soon leave it, and should inflict
rather than confer a kindness were I to impose a restriction on your
inclinations that might have the effect of converting what I mean to be a
benefit into a burthen.”

Frederick, whose face had expressed every variety and gradation of
feeling which such an address was calculated to inspire in a breast which
is the abode of all that is most noble, and most tenderly affectionate,
could restrain his emotion no longer. He pressed his uncle’s pale hand
to his lips with ardour, and bathed it with tears of honest grief
and affection. My poor friend was deeply agitated, which his nephew
perceiving, he struggled with his own feelings to avoid exciting those
of the invalid; and, making an effort, thanked his benefactor with that
warm yet dignified expression of countenance and manner, which, while it
bespoke the vividness of gratitude, betrayed no symptom whatsoever of joy
in the mere acquisition of fortune.

“Now then, we will call in Mr. Peltry, and you may go, my dear
Frederick,” said the general.

“Oh not yet,” replied the generous youth. “Do not banish me for a
little while; I have an earnest request to make, and only hesitate lest
you, my dear uncle, should think me for a moment, either ungrateful or
presumptuous.”

“I cannot think you either,” answered General Douglas; “proceed, tell me
what you would have, and if I can, I will indulge you.”

“Forgive me then,” said Frederick, “if I speak all that is on my heart.
I say nothing to deter you from making a final disposition of your
property, because every man must feel a weight of anxiety taken from his
mind when he has performed an act by which he provides for the future
interest of those who are dear to him. Such an act, far from shortening
his days, is likely to prolong them, by removing a painful pressure from
his mind; and therefore I shall have pleasure in thinking that this
deed is done, as well as in being thought worthy of mention in it. But,
dearest uncle, a slight remembrance in point of vulgar estimation may be
rendered supremely valuable by the manner of bestowing it, and should I
survive you, any mark of your affection will be preserved with love and
veneration while I live. May I then, without dread of offending, by the
appearance of dictating to your better judgment, suggest Arthur Howard as
a fitter representative of your fortune than I am. He is a noble fellow;
and by the disinterestedness of his conduct, likely to be reduced from
high expectations to almost abject poverty. He is at this moment raising
money to keep his brother-in-law, Lord Crayton, out of jail, and prevent
the effects of such event upon his mother’s shattered nerves. I, on the
contrary, have been educated with the view to improving my patrimony
by professional labour, the idea of which is not at all displeasing to
me; and I frankly own that the love of my native soil is so strongly
impressed upon my heart, that little Glenalta has greater charms for me
than a ducal residence in any other place could possess.”

Frederick sat on the sofa by his uncle, and held his hand while he
spoke. When he paused, the general clasped him round the neck, and
concealing his tears, which were flowing fast, by leaning his head on
his nephew’s shoulder, he exclaimed, “There I recognize the son of Henry
Douglas! Yes, Frederick, you are worthy of the father and the mother from
whom you spring. Your fine disposition shall be indulged, though not in
exactly the manner which you suggest. _You_ shall be lord of Marsden: but
I promise you to take care of Arthur by leaving him such a sum, as shall
free his estate from a portion, at least, of its incumbrances; and now,
dear boy, leave me; I must not lose time, and I am anxious to see Mr.
Peltry. Say nothing, I charge you, of this conversation to your mother
and sisters, I know them too well not to be assured that the recital of
what has passed between us, would give them pain, and I wish to spare
them every uneasiness in my power to prevent them from suffering.”

Your young friend then left the room, the solicitor was sent for, and
such testamentary arrangements were made by this interesting being, who
has just come to make us feel the full value of what we are about to
lose, as reflect the highest honour on his justice and impartiality.

We shall soon set out, and I feel a mournful presentiment that we shall
return to England a diminished number. The progress of my poor friend’s
disease is very slow, and imperceptible, and he has intervals of apparent
improvement, so encouraging to our hopes, that had experience not
frequently proved how delusive are these temporary amendments, we should
be led from time to time to increase the measure of disappointment by
giving way to fallacious expectations.

I am summoned to attend him in an airing, and must say adieu.

                          Your faithful friend,

                                                               ED. OTWAY.



LETTER XXXIV.

MRS. DOUGLAS TO THE REV. MR. OLIPHANT.


My very dear good Friend,

If my pen had kept pace with my heart, my congratulations would have
reached you long ere this; but you know me too well to doubt their truth;
and it would be equally injurious to your confidence, and my sincerity,
were I to expend the short time I allow myself for writing, in apologies
which are unnecessary.

Accept my heart-felt rejoicings on your preferment, which I consider
as providential to myself. Your task was concluded. You had safely
piloted my beloved child through his collegiate course; and would have
missed your wonted employment, while no other sufficiently _marked_ to
occupy your whole time, seemed to detain you henceforward at Glenalta,
I dreaded to hear that you must leave me; but wherever duty called you
would have followed her voice, and could I have asked you to stay if
conscience disapproved the lengthened sojourn? _Now_ you _belong_ to us.
All the energies of your admirable nature will be employed where your old
friends may still benefit by them. You will continue to be our teacher
and friend. You will become our pastor, and be reverenced and beloved
by the poor, whose blessings you have so often felt in grateful showers
on your head. I have settled in my own mind that you will not possess a
comfortable home without inviting your worthy sister and her only child,
to share it with you; and if such be your intention, you must permit me
to assist in furnishing your dwelling for a lady’s reception. Much as
we have been in the habit of looking up to you, I am not _sure_ that we
should defer to your taste in such a matter.

I write by this post to Dublin, from whence you will receive my “bread
and salt,” as the Russians call this species of offering to a new
establishment. Oh, my dear friend, how deep is my gratitude to the
Almighty giver of good, for the mercies I continually experience! It
would have been a great alloy to the happiness of knowing how comfortably
you are placed beyond the reach of those sordid cares which depress the
spirit, had you owed the independence now conferred, to a stranger. I
must have felt _some_ pleasure under _any_ circumstances at your being
enabled to continue that character to which your pupils once assigned
the appellation of the “good Benefico (_the good giant_),” but your
little volatile friend Fanny, said to me a few days ago, and reflected
my own feelings as she spoke, “Mamma, there are but two people in the
world besides you to whom I cannot _grudge_ the delight of making dear
Mr. Oliphant a man of easy fortune; and those two are my uncle and
Mr. Otway.” But this theme, all inspiring as it is, must not make me
forgetful of your request.

You earnestly desire to be made acquainted as minutely as possible with
the progress of my dearly loved brother’s mind towards that heavenly
rest, without the possession of which, the approach of that mysterious
change which awaits all created beings, must be awful beyond description.
You know that I was fortunate in seizing upon the character of my
brother’s mind at an early period of our acquaintance. One of the first
outlines that I took, discovered to me his strong aversion to control,
_even_ in conversation. I perceived that having been long accustomed to
exert an unrestrained free will in the regulation of his own occupations
as well as amusements, and having also seen so much of design in the
ordinary intercourse of the world as to make him suspicious of every
formal attack upon his opinions, he met with a sort of predetermined
opposition the slightest attempt to alter his views, upon any subject of
interest. With this clue, I pursued my way, turning aside from, rather
than courting, any opportunity of conversing upon topics respecting which
I burned to know his thoughts. The usual style of our conversation was
of that mixed nature which gave me an early insight into a mind replete
with various powers. Its predominating tone was that of playfulness, and
a common observer might have been borne out in calling General Douglas a
humourist; but though possessed of all the requisites to inspire mirth,
as well as taste its influence, I could see a dark cloud gathering
underneath a smile, and catch a half breathed sigh, that wafted to my
heart’s core the sounds, “All, all is vanity--delusion all,” when gaiety
_seemed_ to dance around his heart. What would I not have given at such
moments to have seized a hand, and with affectionate energy pressed
admission to the sacred repository of gloomy contemplation; but the time
was not come. A premature remark, however tenderly whispered, would have
alarmed a retiring and delicate, as well as proud mind, unaccustomed to
see itself exposed to view. I therefore waited till opportunity should
naturally invite communication; and such presented itself ere long after
my brother’s arrival amongst us at Glenalta.

You may remember the time when you and Frederick were reading Butler’s
Analogy as part of the College course. My dear boy was fond of talking
over with me each chapter as he proceeded, and I determined to read
that inestimable work anew, for the purpose of refreshing my memory, in
conversation with him. One day, employed in this manner, I was sitting
alone in my dressing-room, when my brother tapped at the door, saying
that you wanted me for a few minutes in the study, and asked whether he
might remain till my return, as he also wished to speak with me. On my
return, I found him eagerly devouring the chapter on a future state;
and so absorbed was he, that at first he did not perceive my entrance
into the room. When he did, he started, and said, “Caroline, I have to
apologize for taking up your book to see what you were reading, and I
find something that has struck me: but I make a discovery that _you_ are
fond of these dark themes. Why have you never broached these subjects
with me?” “Because,” said I, “that they _are_ both dark and deep, and lie
hidden between us and our Creator. The controversies of men are seldom
beneficial, and more frequently excite the passions than satisfy the
pride of human presumption.” “Do you mean, then, to say,” replied our
dear inquirer, “that religion is incapable of proof?” “So far from it,”
answered I, “that every object in nature bears proof to demonstration
of the great leading tenets of religion; but I mean to say, such is the
perverseness of our hearts, that we repel, when offered by another,
those arguments which we should be proud to originate ourselves, and
refuse conviction, unless our vanity be gratified by taking some credit
to itself, at _least_ in the _selection_ of those reasons which operate
a change of opinion. For this cause we suffer books to teach, though we
deny a friend the delight of converting us from the evil of our ways,
and why? Alas! in human weakness we have the answer. The choice of a
book is a _free_ act; the continuing to read it is a _free_ act. The
advocacy of its doctrines, if they be arrayed with power, talent, and
genius, reflects honour on our discrimination, and, to a certain degree,
identifies us with the author, who perhaps has vanished from the arena
of our paltry rivalry, having been called to his account; or, should he
still be alive, is removed from the immediate field of competition. I
_know_ these humiliating facts experimentally, for I have doubted, and I
have been perverse.”

From this moment, every reserve on my brother’s part was at an end. He
looked steadfastly in my face, with an expression which seemed to ask,
is this indeed the _truth_, and not said to inveigle me into confidence?
His own penetration assured him that I practised no deception. He took my
hand, and spoke to the following effect:

“You are the very being to whom my whole soul shall be unfolded. Much
is locked up within my breast that ‘ferments for want of air.’ You are
right; you have in a few words drawn my picture; and _so_ truly, that
I now confess I should not have acknowledged this moment the fidelity
of your portrait, had you boasted the superiority over me, of one who
had not been drawn aside yourself from the path to which you have
returned. But though your having once doubted, is a bond between us,
like that of a common language in a foreign land; there is much room
yet for discrepancy; and the _nature_ of our stumbling blocks may be
so extremely different that we may lose, rather than gain _accession_
of sympathy by attempting to travel together in a course where so
many intricate bye-paths present themselves to distract attention and
divide our choice. Every thinking mind which has felt what it was to
be perplexed, has been conscious of gradation in the difficulties that
embarrassed its progress: some were but apparent, and vanished on the
approach of knowledge; others, more stubborn, required more time and
pains to conquer, but yielded at length to the force of reason, while
there are some obstacles to Faith so harassing, that no efforts of the
understanding are of any avail in breaking down the barriers which they
present to sincere uncompromising belief:

    ‘Man never reasons but from what he knows,’

and if all attempts to comprehend, are rendered futile by the
imperfection of his faculties, it is vain to call upon his faith.
Credulity, indeed, may receive all things; but where Heaven has granted
intellect, impalpable and unseen as are its operations, it excludes the
dogmatizing influence of arbitrary control, and will not bend to mere
authority. Tell me then, Caroline, what chiefly puzzled you--what were
the obstructions which principally encumbered your path, and if they
resemble those which block my way. I will next inquire how you removed
them; ask you to be my Hannibal; and prepare to follow in that track
which you shall excavate for me through the rocky defile.”

I told him that after avowing the fact on which I look back with pain,
of having been sceptically inclined in that period of youthful arrogance
when new-born reason, proud of her first flights, imagines that her wing
can soar above the clouds, and penetrate the sanctuaries of the Most
High, I could have no objection to inform him how far I had been enabled
to overcome, as also where my presumption met with its first check, while
Reason was my only guide. I then gave him a brief sketch of my former
uneasy sensations, and the causes which had led to them. He listened
with the deepest attention, and, when I concluded, answered that by a
remarkable coincidence in our views, the only difficulties which had
greatly harassed me were precisely those which still haunted him with
ceaseless perplexity. “I never,” added he, “stuck at the historical
discordances of the Bible, because, though I did not take the trouble
of going minutely into the inquiry myself, I was aware that others of
superior learning did do so; and when such a man as Sir William Jones,
versed in Oriental literature, and examining the records of antiquity
with critical acumen, was satisfied with his researches, so as to
pronounce upon the increase of evidence which every added information
produced to him, confirmatory of Scriptural truth, I could not tarry to
believe that _apparent_ contrarieties only require investigation to be
satisfactorily reconciled to _my_ understanding also, were I patiently
to pursue the testimony which might be collected. I never felt that
Herodotus was to be set aside as a historian, because superstition has
deformed his work, and fable occasionally obscured the truth of his
narrative. Nor have I ever doubted that Cæsar wrote the Commentaries
imputed to his pen, though Hirtius has added a supplement to the book.
Why then should I deny that Moses was author of the Pentateuch, because
the account of that great lawgiver’s death and burial is supplied by
another hand; or conclude it impossible that Joshua, the son of Nun,
should have compiled the narrative ascribed to him, in consequence of
finding a few mistakes in the arrangement of facts, for which he was,
probably, not to blame, and which are the cause of certain unimportant
anachronisms in the story? _My_ difficulties have been of another kind,
and the three points of free-will, the soul’s separate state, and
personal identity, have been with me, as with you, the barrier over which
I have hitherto been unable to pass. I have heard much of a Novel which
has lately appeared, and I brought it with me, though I have not yet
looked into it, feeling how idle it is to expect argument in a _story_.”

I told him that I had read _Tremaine_ with great pleasure, that I thought
it an excellent, though not a faultless work, and should be happy to go
over it again with him.

“You must tell me first,” said he, “how you arrived at your present
conclusions? _You_ were not in _need_ of Tremaine when you read that
book.” “Tremaine,” answered I, “would have set me _thinking,_ but would
not have convinced me upon _all_ the topics which he discusses, though
_some_ of his reasoning is admirable. He meets many difficult questions
very ably, but to read any author on these subjects with advantage, the
mind, if inclined to infidelity, must undergo a process for restoring it
to its neutral state; and a few arguments of the _negative_ kind are a
very necessary preparation for those of a _positive_ character.” “What
are these negative arguments?” replied my brother. The first I told him
presented itself in the form of a question, as to the _spirit_ in which
I had doubted; and a little serious self examination “landed” me in the
mortifying, but salutary assurance, that in the _strength_ of reason I
had taken so much for granted, and assumed so many arbitrary positions
on which to ground my scepticism, that, when brought back to first
principles, I was obliged to confess the folly of my own inconsistency,
and admit that the dogmas which I laid down required proof quite as
much as those which they attempted to controvert. Till then I had
misunderstood the Scriptural admonition to come as a little child for
instruction; and conceived that it amounted to no less than a prohibition
against the exercise of those faculties given us for the very purpose of
discriminating between truth and falsehood. I _now_ began to comprehend
that the soundest philosophy called upon me for a total relinquishment
of my own theories in learning _any_ science. The empiric who sets up
for medical skill, untaught by the rules of art, is not in a fit state
to practice physic, nor even to become a student, till he has got rid of
preconceived notions which militate against the best authority. Neither
is the man who thinks himself a better lawyer than can be found in the
Courts, without having been himself educated to the bar, in any condition
to decide upon an intricate case. To learn any human branch of knowledge,
requires that the person desirous to learn should come in a teachable
state to the task, and not inflated with the vain idea of being already
capable of communicating instruction. What more is demanded of us in the
commencement of our religious course, than we see to be but reasonable
in undertaking any earthly enterprize? And with what additional force
does the injunction to prepare by an humble spirit for the reception of
divine knowledge apply to the understanding, when we reflect on our utter
inability to search into the counsels of God with our finite powers of
capacity! When I had reached this conclusion, I saw every thing in a
new light, and began to rest satisfied with the measure of information
which the Almighty has seen fit to impart; determining no longer to waste
life in prying into the hidden things which are not more suited to the
present condition of our intellectual strength, than the unmitigated
blaze of a meridian sun is fitted to the structure of our visual organs.
I began to perceive the absurdity of expressions which had passed for
sound sense upon my understanding. How often had I talked flippantly (at
least thought within my own breast) of the _course of nature_, never
recollecting that the poor Indian’s concatenation of supporters for
the world, in his list of elephants and tortoises, is not more easily
resolved into ignorance, than the arguments by which infidelity delays
the confession that it is in utter darkness? Will the most sagacious
reasoning on the formation of a bone, by the gradual accretion of
calcareous matter; or the most ingenious display of physiological lore in
tracing the growth of a plant from the cotyledon up to the forest’s king,
apply to the _first_ created animal, or the _first_ formed oak? There the
course of nature deserts us. The anatomist, and the naturalist, alike
lay down their arms; here they are baffled and arrested. The former has
no need of his animal laboratory in which the chyle is separated in the
process of digestion from the daily food, and phosphate of lime is added
to the soft cartilages that are intended to become the bony skeleton. The
latter neither requires the acorn nor the “_nursing leaves_” to advance
the oak from the seedling to the sapling, and thence to the full-grown
monarch of the wood. He wants no gradual process of deposition by water;
no metamorphosis produced by fire, neither calx, nor crystalization is
demanded for the _primary_ minerals of the earth--the great “back bone”
of creation. In _some_ period of time there was a _beginning_ of these
things. Remove that period indefinitely, and you may lose sight of the
difficulty in its distance from your eye, but you cannot reduce its real
dimensions; it exists in its full size and bulk, though placed without
the range of your vision. Arrived at this point (and driven to it you
_must_ be sooner or later) you are involved in the absolute necessity of
a revelation of some sort or other, unless you can believe that matter
is self created, and carries within itself all the power, energy, and
intelligence which we _know_ that it does not possess, or that man is
a being governed entirely by instinct, like the inferior animals, and
capable, at his first entrance into life of performing all the functions
requisite to sustain his existence, and perpetuate its succession, as
a crow is to build its nest. _Neither_ of these opinions being tenable
without a surrender of that very experience derived through our senses,
which we consider as the highest possible source of demonstration; the
question which _next_ occurs is what account is there of any instruction
to the first pair who were placed in the vast expanse of an unknown
world, in which they were to become the founders of an unborn race of
creatures? _Some_ record of a matter so vitally important to the new
creation might reasonably be expected, and we naturally look for such.
_One_ narrative alone there is to satisfy the curiosity of inquirers
on this interesting subject, and to cavil at _that_ is easier than
to supply another, or give a satisfactory reason why none whatsoever
should have been preserved. Once admit, that those things most important
_are_ usually handed down in some way or other from generation to
generation, and that it is therefore _probable_ some attempt _was_ made
to continue the knowledge of God’s first intercourse with mankind to
succeeding posterity, it then remains only to try the history which
is presented to us by the rules that we employ in every subject of
human testimony. Now, the wise and the learned declare that the more
severely they investigate, the more thoroughly are they convinced that
there is evidence for the Bible’s having been written by the various
authors to whom the several books which compose the Sacred Volume have
been attributed, beyond that which can be found to substantiate the
genuineness of any other work which has ever been printed. The wise and
the learned also protest that the farther they scrutinize into collateral
testimony, the more completely are they satisfied that these authors
recorded _truth_, and not falsehood; and that the farther the search is
carried, the more certain is the result to corroborate the validity of
Scripture. When such gigantic minds as those of Newton, Boyle, and Bacon,
with the long list that might be added on their side, bear evidence to
this declaration, shall we take the _ipse dixit_ of a Voltaire, a Bayle,
or a Bolingbroke, who may choose to deny, without being able to _prove_
the negative, or set up any attested credentials to supply the place
of that revelation which they are desirous to annul? Testimony, be it
ever remembered, has no concern save with matters of _fact_. When human
reason has taken cognizance of all the circumstances for or against the
existence of any event which is said to have taken place, it has done its
duty, and finished its work. With the _nature_ of such an event, it may
have nothing at all to do. If a hundred spectators, who have no motive
for collusion, declare to having seen a stone three feet in length, and
two in breadth, descend from the clouds, and if one of these witnesses
happening to be a chemist, should report to me its analysis, which I
find to differ from that of any stone on the surface of the earth, I am
very unphilosophical in contradicting the possibility of an occurrence
verified by so many credible spectators, upon the simple ground of my own
ignorance. Though _I_ may never have heard of an Aërolite, such things
are, and, being a product of the atmosphere, it is not extraordinary that
its composition should differ from that of stones produced on the earth.
Thus all my reasoning to the non-existence of these meteoric phenomena
grounded on analogy would be fallacious, like that of the king in some
Eastern climate, who laughed incredulously when he first heard of ice,
never having himself seen water, except in a liquid state. The _more_
ignorant, the _less_ are we enabled to believe, if we measure truth by
the estimate of our understandings. So far then is scepticism from being
proof of a powerful mind, that the reverse is oftener the fact; and
every advance which we make in knowledge and intelligence increases the
expansion of _faith_, not only by enlarging the sphere of experience,
and multiplying those arguments of which the mind takes advantage in
examining any new matter presented to its contemplation; but what is of
higher value, we are taught at every step a lesson of humility by being
compelled to acknowledge the narrow limits of those abilities on which
we so arrogantly relied for scanning the attributes of Divinity. Had the
Bible _not_ told of things difficult to comprehend, I should have wanted
one direct argument in favour of its coming from God. No scheme of merely
human invention would have baffled all human sagacity to understand it
in all its bearings, _unless_ the difficulty of doing so arose from
_contradiction_ to reason, which is not the case. The Bible _tells_ us
that it contains _mysteries_ too deep for human penetration; were such
_discovered_, they would cease to be what the word of God has declared
them; and of that word we are told that not a tittle shall pass away. We
are desired to read and to search the Scriptures; but we are _not_ told
that the utmost limit of curiosity shall be satisfied in this world. It
is vain to attempt the Penetralia which will be shut against us, till
the soul shall awaken in the etherial regions of a spiritual existence,
disencumbered of its “mortal coil.” Respecting _internal_ evidence,
the great stress rests with me in a small compass; I look no farther
than into my own heart to see such depravity, such continual danger of
yielding to temptation, which urges me to do the thing which my better
spirit condemns, that I am ready to own my utter helplessness to attain,
without a guide, either happiness or virtue. If I try the goods of this
life, I am forced to cry with Solomon that all is vanity; pleasure but
a bubble, which, glittering for a moment, passes away; that riches,
fame, rank, power, beauty, are but gewgaws incapable of satisfying the
cravings of an immortal soul; but even when the mind is of such mundane
temperament that these things _do_ seem sufficient, and that it would
fain build its tabernacle amongst them, Death, ‘the great teacher Death,’
interposes to prevent the dreamer from long enjoying the illusion of
his wishes. Death comes at last to force the unwelcome conviction on
all who will not otherwise entertain it, that the idols of earth must
inevitably be torn from our grasp, and that the cold grave must close on
every tie which binds us to this sublunary scene. This strong and simple
truth is one of those irresistible and universal arguments that apply
to all capacities of intellect, and to all conditions of fortune. All
shall die; all leave whatever ministered to pride or vanity behind them.
‘A little earth that saves the world a nuisance,’ once scattered on the
silent remains, the inheritance is seized, and he who, but a week before,
lived in every tongue, descends into the narrow house where all things
are forgotten. No more trace exists to mark his brilliant career on
earth than lingers on the bosom of yonder ocean, whose waves dance gladly
in the sunbeams, as if laughing at the engulphment of that majestic
sail which lately skimmed upon its surface. In this _one_ general fact
there is unspeakable reality of wretchedness--irrefragable assurance
of human nothingness--and in this solitary certainty there is argument
enough to make all mankind, from the emperor to the beggar, ponder on
the _possibility_, if not the probability of an hereafter. All men hate
to die. They are told that they shall _not_ die, that the body _only_
shall return to its dust, and ‘the spirit to God who gave it.’ Here is
a _motive_ the most powerful, to seek, in order to believe, and if to
believe, to act as shall accord with the directions afforded for securing
a blessed immortality. Driven by that motive I go to my Bible, and not
only discover the _only_ lamp which lights up a dark and dreary valley
through which I _must_ pass, however horrible to my imagination; but I
find also, that even the most imperfect efforts to assimilate my actions
to that conduct which the Scripture enjoins, the feeblest endeavours to
cultivate those tempers and affections which the Sacred Volume enforces,
are rewarded by an inward peace which nothing beside has power to impart;
and that in proportion as I attempt to prepare for _another_ world, I am
happy in _this_, which is but its vestibule.

When I had proceeded so far in my little sketch of a “Confession of
Faith,” my dear brother said, “You prove to me, that the subjects on
which my mind has been long and anxiously revolving, are familiar to you;
and from the little that you have said respecting these obscure points, I
anticipate much comfort in entering more at large with you into the field
of inquiry, but remember, that _my_ chief difficulties remain untouched,
and before I let you entirely behind the scenes of my own incertitude,
I must know how you get over a barrier which seems in my mind so
insurmountable. You must also tell me whether you are one of those who
hold _belief_ to be within our own power. If you _are_, I fear that we
shall have to combat on the threshold, for I confess nothing irritates
me half so much as to be told that I can believe if I _please_. _I_ feel
that my _will_ has nothing to do with my understanding. Nay, so far from
adopting the popular maxim, that we have faith according to our _wishes_,
I find the tendency of my mind is rather to suspect in proportion to the
desire that any proposition may be true, and, dreading disappointment, I
investigate with more precision whatever I am most interested in hoping
may prove to be a fact, than those matters of common occurrence, which
are indifferent to me in their consequences.”

I replied, that I had purposely left the topics to which he alluded
for the last. “You desired,” said I, “to know on what shore I had been
landed, what haven of rest I have found, after having been tempest-tossed
like yourself upon the ocean of doubt and vacillation. I complied with
your requisition, and have told you that my bark is, I trust, safely
moored in the harbour of conviction. I will now retrace my way, and
tell you how I have been enabled to meet the tremendous questions of
free-will, spiritual immortality, and personal identity, so far as to
satisfy myself completely, that while in the flesh it is a vain attempt
to explain them in any other way than by saying, that they are too high,
and elude mortal grasp altogether. To know this is something, and we
arrive at the knowledge by _means_ of reason, it is doubly satisfactory.
Whether _my_ reasoning will carry any weight to _your_ mind, I will not
presume to anticipate; but, as briefly as possible I will give you an
idea of the course which I pursued myself with success.”

As my letter has run on to an overgrown length, I will conclude it here,
where the subject naturally divides itself; and in my next will proceed
with my narrative, in the hope that you will aid my purpose by observing
on every defect in the chain of my endeavours, and furnishing strength
to my weakness from the stores of your own information. My whole soul
is engrossed in the cause which heaven has blessed already beyond my
most sanguine expectations. Our dear friend, Mr. Otway, is a powerful
auxiliary. I should say that he were the _principal_ instrument, if his
knowledge of human nature did not teach him to lie by in a great degree,
till I, as a pioneer, have cleared the path. “The still small voice” of
female affection, like the mouse in the fable, will sometimes achieve
more than the lion’s force, and I am heartily contented to rank no higher
than “yon wee bit sleek, and cowering beastie.” as our favourite Burns
styles this tiny animal, if I may only be permitted by my humble efforts,
to unloose the cords which would restrain the spirit’s flight, and bind
to groveling earth an angel of the skies.

              Adieu, dear friend,

                     Your faithful and affectionate,

                                                        CAROLINE DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXV.

FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.


                                                               _Marsden._

My dear Friend,

You are expecting a letter, and it shall be delayed no longer. To return
to the subject of my last: my brother confessed, as I told you, that
his great difficulties lay in questions _without_ the range of Bible
testimony, considered either as a system of moral virtue, or a history of
mankind.

“I know enough,” added he, “to give it the palm of excellence over the
several claims of Confucius, Menu, Zoroaster, and Mohammed. The nobleness
of its _principle_, in making the love of God stand forward grandly as
the only test of true religion, is sufficient to raise it beyond the
finest compositions of human skill, which rest their foundations in
convenience or necessity. I am likewise aware that much of what is to
be admired in the best specimens of ancient wisdom, is directly imitated
from the laws of Moses. I know that this lawgiver has been the means of
preserving the people committed to his charge, and that too amidst the
most tremendous reverses and astonishing vicissitudes of fortune for
almost four thousand years by the same laws; while the boasted Grecian
philosophy of the Lycurgus’, the Solons, the Platos, though indebted to
him, has passed away in empty air. I know also, that the infidel hue and
cry that Moses borrowed his plans of jurisprudence and morality from the
Egyptians, has been transmitted through the crowd as mere sound divested
of sense, and is easily arrested by the least degree of acquaintance with
that mythology from which unbelievers pretend to derive the _Hebraical
Institutes_. Could I be _assured_ that I am to live hereafter, the Bible
should unquestionably be the light and staff of my journey towards
that unseen world which _you_ are so certain of beholding, and in the
existence of which there is nothing revolting to my understanding,
except the difficulty of _knowing myself_ in a disembodied state. What is
to convince me of my identity?”

To this question I ventured to reply, “The argument of identity has
been much misunderstood by a large portion of mankind, including almost
all the sceptics whose writings I am acquainted with, and who confound
this idea with that of _consciousness_. Now, Butler, whose book you see
before you, has admirably and clearly drawn the true distinction, and
shewn that _consciousness takes cognizance_ of identity, but is not the
thing itself. You may sleep for a million of years as for a single night,
without destroying your identity. Were it not so, each interruption from
forgetfulness, however short, or from whatever cause, whether a natural
slumber, lapse of memory, epileptic fit, swoon, or contusion of the
brain, would be as fatal to the continuity of _self_, as the longest term
of oblivion.

“How then do I arrive at the idea of identity? I say by _intuitive_
knowledge, so totally independent of the circumstances with which it is
combined in the body, that these may undergo every variety of change
without impairing its force. Suppose that you were taken at your birth,
like Hunter, and brought up amongst the North American Indians; that you
believed a tatooed chief of a particular village to be your father, and
a certain squaw to be your mother. At one-and-twenty, you are brought to
Europe, and discover, by a remarkable chain of circumstances, that you
are _not_ a North American Indian, but a child of British parents. You
are _not_ what you believed yourself to be; yet _this_ has nothing to do
with your identity--you are still _yourself_.

“Suppose again, that by successive cannon shots, you have been deprived
of your limbs; your arms and legs have been shot away, and, as nearly
as is compatible with continued existence, you are reduced to a mere
trunk. No diminution takes place in the consciousness of your personal
identity, any more than results from the gradual substitution of new
particles which, it is calculated, replace those which composed the whole
of the former body, once in every seven years. _Memory of the past_ is
not necessary to our belief that _we are ourselves_. Whole years may
be blotted from our recollection, and still we have some invisible,
intuitive assurance that we have continuity of being, and have not gone
through any metempsychosis, which destroys it; but this knowledge is
limited by certain boundaries, beyond which we have absolutely nothing to
guide us, except the evidence of _other people_. Ask yourself solemnly,
and searchingly, what is your ground for believing that, ere you saw the
light, you lived during nine months in another state as different from
your present condition of existence, as the present union of body and
spirit can possibly be from a future mode of being in which the soul,
freed from human restraint, shall expatiate with as much more liberty
than it can now exert, as it enjoys at present, when compared with the
former period of its imprisonment.

“Is there one human creature who could be so certain that you are
absolutely the person for whom we take you, as not by _possibility_ to be
deceived? Even your _mother_, after her heart had yearned to the first
faint cry of her own baby, may have been deceived. Suppose that her own
had died, and that you were presented to her. _How_ do you know _what_
or _where_ you were before sensible objects began to make impression on
your faculties? You have no more actual _connection_ with your former
being, even during the first six or eight months,--I might go on to say
the first year of childhood--when you slept in your nurse’s arms, than
you have with that oak that overshadows your window, if you estimate that
connection by your power of tracing its links without any hiatus in the
chain.

“You were pleased the other day with that admirable essay, which you
were reading, entitled “Historical doubts respecting the existence of
Napoleon Buonaparte,” in which the argument is so perfectly established
that, if we give reins to scepticism, we have no _demonstrative_ proof,
at this moment, that the wonderful Buonaparte who swayed the world by the
magic of an almost preternatural influence for a few years, and is now
_forgotten_, put himself under the protection of Captain Maitland, and
visited Spithead on board the Bellerophon. What wonder that you should
know no more than that your boat put off from the shore, on which you saw
a dense crowd of assembled spectators, that you neared the stern of a
great vessel, saw a little man with a star on his breast and a cocked hat
upon his head, were told and _believed_ that it was the royal prisoner,
the usurper of France, the wizard Corsican at whom you gazed from your
wherry, when you have no _demonstration_ that you are General Douglas, no
_irrefragable_ proof that you belong to that line of Scottish heroes from
whom you believe yourself to be sprung, and may not be, on the contrary,
a foundling transplanted from the parish of St. Giles’ into your splendid
cradle, where first you received the fond caresses of your reputed
parents.

“See then how much we are _obliged_ to take for granted; and is there any
greater difficulty in believing that consciousness of identity, which
we never doubted, may form a part of our essence hereafter, than that
it is inseparable from our existence here, however the continuity of
remembrance may be interrupted? All _analogy_ is with me, and I now find
this idea, which once was a stumbling block, easy and familiar.

“Then, as to the soul’s existence after being separated from the body.
Let us only consider how unreasonably we argue, when we confound the
mental and corporeal functions, simply because we see them combined.
Analogy here also is against such reasoning. A spark of electricity
or galvanism is only rendered _apparent_ to the eye by certain
circumstances. As long as these subtle fluids pass quietly through
conductors, they are wholly invisible, and pervade the earth and
atmosphere entirely unseen: yet we doubt not the existence of electricity
and magnetism, because they float invisibly in æther. We never doubt the
existence of the sun’s light, though the substitution of a wooden block
for a transparent window of glass shall totally obstruct his rays. These
are mere analogies; but they are in our favour. We see the operations of
the spirit through the means of our bodily organs, as we perceive the
light of the sun through glass, which is so constituted as to transmit
its beams to our senses; but we have no more right to confound the
vehicle, or medium, with the matter of light, or the power of thought,
conveyed in the one case than in the other. Will you call me fanciful if
I say that I consider all intellectual energy, all that we denominate
_soul_, as emanating from divinity; and I find no more difficulty _now_
in imagining a certain portion of this divine principle arrested and
concentrated in the organic structure which we call man, than I find in
collecting the sun’s rays in a burning glass or a prism.

“Mingling with the dross incident to a temporary junction with the base
particles of matter, the spirit partakes of the feculence of the channel
through which it permeates (if you will permit me to use the language
of metaphor), just as the rays of the sun are broken, refracted, or
reflected by the cloudy atmosphere, or shattered glass, through which
they pass. Remove the medium, and the emancipated essence regains its
source; with this difference, that while the light, which is only
material, the magnetism and electricity, which are unconscious forces,
recover all their purity with their liberated expansion, the soul of
man, on which the boon of immortality is conferred,--the soul which shall
not be extinguished like that splendid orb that illumines our nether
sphere shall receive its final billet, and be admitted into one or the
other of two classes of spiritualized existence, _according_ to the use
which has been made during its sojournment in the body, of _free will_,
bestowed upon the human species at its creation.”

Here my brother heaved a sigh, which seemed to issue from the very centre
of his heart: “Aye, Caroline,” said he, “there’s the rub; there is the
inscrutable mystery, the impenetrable veil;” “Which,” answered I, “no
mortal intellect--no human eye will ever pierce.”--“Then how _believe_
what I despair of comprehending?” “If,” replied I, “we turn a subject
according to two opposite theories, and after the clearest investigation
which we are enabled to bestow upon each, find that both involve an equal
measure of incompatibility with our reason and experience, we arrive at
least naturally at a state of neutrality which would leave us unbiased
and ready to lean to one side or the other, as _new_ motives might
be suggested to incline the understanding through force of evidence
or probability, towards the adoption of one scheme in preference to
the other, its _own_ powers being confessedly unequal to unravel the
difficulties of either. Let us view the wonderful question of free-will
in this light: that the Almighty could _decree_ man to be free, we have
no reason to deny. Omnipotence can achieve _all_ things; and even were we
inclined to declare, that not being satisfied that free-will exists, we
will not give credit to the Great Framer of the universe for more than we
see, still we are _pinned_ on the other side; for if we only admit what
we see, we cannot by the same rule consistently negative that which we
do _not_ see. _Ignorance_ is not entitled to predicate for or against.
We can only with propriety say, that what is hidden, is hidden. _But_
my _experience_ tells me that I _am_ free; and that when not coerced
from without, when not restrained by extrinsic force, I follow the
dictates of my _will_, I find that no temptation assails me with such
violence as to make it _impossible_ that I should not have resisted its
approaches: and find that the common sense of all mankind is with me,
since every human law is founded on the distinction between voluntary and
compulsory action. Every species of control, moral or physical, is taken
into account; every aberration which disturbs the balance of the mental
faculties is allowed to operate favourably in excusing the delinquent who
is brought to judgment; and nothing but _free_, _determined_ wickedness
is punished by the laws of man. Whatever injury has been sustained by
society, _crime_ is not imputed to the person who has been an unwilling
instrument of wrong. So far there is no contrariety in the decisions; no
variety amongst the opinions of men. What says the Bible, which we have
already agreed should be the lamp of our feet, _provided_ that we submit
to be guided where our own light is not sufficient? It tells us, that
God placing us here in a merely probationary state, and designing us for
an ulterior destiny, made us free _in order_ to our being accountable.
Now that we should be accountable _without_ being free is a solecism
which no human sagacity could comprehend, not merely because it is too
high for us to reach, _but_ because it absolutely contradicts that reason
through the means of which we come at the ideas of truth and falsehood.
The Bible says, that “good and evil are placed before us,” and that we
are responsible at the bar of a future Tribunal for the choice which we
make between them. Here is an exact accordance between revelation and
the natural conclusions of reason. Again, if we consider what is most
suitable to our ideas of grandeur and power in the Deity, we hesitate
not in saying, that to form a _free_ creature is a much more magnificent
exhibition of Divinity than is manifested in the creation of puppets
that _must_ obey the original impulse imparted to them. How much grander
is the idea of an Almighty Ruler who, giving the _greatest latitude_ of
action within its individual sphere, to each separate congeries of nerves
and muscles, which He has ordained to be the seat of a human soul, can
so order the _ends_ of His astonishing plan, that not a _tittle_ of His
word shall be frustrated; not a particle of the great scheme subverted;
than any notion which we can substitute of a Creator who had tied down
and limited the work of His hands in the moment of casting the first
specimen of its existence, so as to secure a monotonous and necessary
result from the mechanical revolution of certain wheels, or the mindless
operation of certain fixed springs, not one of which could by possibility
vary in its round, or be altered in the _quantum_ of its elasticity.
Thus far reason and experience move harmoniously together, and authority
confirms their joint conclusion. We _feel_ that we are free; reason
tells us that we _ought_ to be free; and Scripture, which professes to
be the revealed Word of God, informs us that we _are_ free. The mass of
probability appears, then, entirely on this side: let us now consider the
other.

“If man be a mere machine, irresistibly governed according to fixed
laws, from which he cannot swerve, and performing every action through
the influence of an impelling power, which he is unable to resist;
it is plain, first, that he cannot be an accountable creature, for
accountableness can only be understood when there is liberty to do, or
abstain from doing; and, secondly, this scheme involves an absolute
contradiction between our experience and the fact, supposing us to be
creatures of necessity, by which, if we be really overruled, and placed
in _duresse_ from which we have no power to emancipate ourselves; we are,
then, put into the extraordinary predicament of _being_ one thing, while
we are so constituted as to _believe_ ourselves to be another. That is to
say, in fine, that we are _conscious_ of freedom, though in reality we
are bound; and are thus practically and irresistibly acting all our lives
upon a fraud, a delusion, which compels us to give up the testimony of
our senses, at the same time that we declare their evidence to furnish
the most unquestionable source of knowledge that we possess, and to
afford the principal rule upon which our whole conduct is regulated,
either in public or private life.

“There is a sublime simplicity in the works of Providence, in comparison
with which the strange incongruity which I have been describing would
present a case so completely anomalous as to disturb the harmony of
creation, and leave us a bewildered race, without helm or compass to
guide our course. But a contradiction still more monstrous and difficult
to reconcile would result from such an order of things as we are now
supposing. The necessity which we are considering must either be
independent of, or immediately proceeding from, God. If the former, it
supersedes the Deity, or, identified with Him, is itself the sovereign
ruler of the universe. If the latter, all the evil deeds of man are
performed by the _express order_ of that Being who threatens with eternal
punishment those of his creatures who will not obey His commandment to
be “holy even as He is holy.” The preposterous absurdities involved in
this view are levelled at once by the belief that man at his birth is
_decreed_ to be a free agent, all whose actions are in his own power; who
will never be tempted above what he is enabled to bear; and who, if he
sincerely _desire_ after righteousness, will never fail in attaining it.

“How far the _ultimate ends_ of all that we see may be _fixed_ by the
fiat of Divine ordinances, is not our business to inquire into, any more
than what future worlds the Creator may please to form when our planetary
system shall have passed away. Our own actions are our immediate concern:
thousands of _events_ may hinge upon every one of them, with which we do
not _design_ the remotest connection; while the ends which we _intend_
to bring about are never achieved. Yet, in secular matters, no man ever
believes his free will to have been restrained. If he make a bad bargain,
or act upon a false calculation, he may regret his want of prudence,
or lament a deficiency of information; but it never occurs to the most
sceptical amongst those with whom I have ever met, to fancy, for a single
moment, that he _might_ not have done differently, inquired farther, or
been less precipitate.

“Whence this _division_? Why are temporal affairs regulated by the law
of responsibility while spiritual conduct only is to be considered
under the inflexible control of a _necessary_ compulsion? The reason
is plain: the creed of the fatalist is only adopted to screen him
from the examination which he dreads, and serve as an opiate to his
conscience. The fatalism of the ancient heathen world was more rational
and consistent than that of modern infidelity, inasmuch as it was applied
to earthly concerns, and frequently led to contentment under misfortune
and privation. Perhaps you are ready to say how much less puzzling you
would find the doctrine of free-will than that of necessity were it
not for one stumbling block. How can fore-knowledge be reconciled with
freedom? Were human analogies to satisfy our inquiry, there would be no
difficulty to encounter in this question. In _this_ world, the prophetic
wisdom which, like that of Edmund Burke, looks deeply into the volume of
futurity, and predicts events to come, is rarely, if ever concerned in
the practical occurrence of them; but on the contrary, is generally in
diametrical opposition, as he was to the horrors of that revolution which
he so clearly foresaw. So far analogy _separates_ fore-knowledge from
necessity. Imagine _once_ that man is created _free_ by the Almighty’s
decree, and the difficulty vanishes. If _free_, man is empowered to act
for himself; and though _beyond_ a certain limit he may not be able to
_see_ or to _do_, he has liberty _within_ a given circuit, and that
liberty once conferred, there is nothing more incomprehensible in the
fore-knowledge of God, than in that of an earthly parent, who having
_endowed_ his children with a certain measure of power, limited by his
discretion, and recallable at his will, _foresees_, without _choosing_
to control its exercise. That species of active interference sometimes
employed to bring about the designs of self-interest by people who plan
devices, and then are busied in executing them; is not what we mean by
fore-knowledge _humanly_ speaking. What we speak of as such, is founded
on information from without, and derived from our own judgment in drawing
conclusions relative to future events from certain data presented to our
understandings. I repeat, therefore, that so far from being accustomed
to couple this species of wisdom with the facts which it predicts,
there is, generally speaking, not the most remote connection between
the prognostic and its fulfilment. Now, as all our ideas respecting the
divine attributes, when we depend on reason alone for believing in them,
are but an extension of those which we see in each other, we are not
instructed by any analogy to _expect_ that the prescience of the Almighty
brings about the downfall of a nation as its _necessary consequence_,
any more than that Burke’s foresight of the effects which would follow
on the spread of infidelity and disloyalty should be instrumental in
compassing the overthrow of monarchy in France. Nor _should_ we reason so
anomalously, were it not that in considering God as the _creator_ of all
those beings whose conduct he foresees, looking in short, upon the divine
fore-knowledge as _infallible_, and not subject to the _contingencies_
which accompany even the highest degree of human sagacity, we attach a
_characteristic_ to the prescience of the Deity which does not belong to
that of man; and therefore while reason and analogy are professedly our
guides, we desert their standard, and set up a new light for ourselves
which is as remote from revealed as from natural religion, and leaves us
inextricably _bogged_ in a morass from which we shall in vain attempt to
disentangle ourselves. If the Almighty _made us free_, we can imagine
how he may fore-know our actions without controlling them; though he
formed all created things, because in the very idea of _freedom_, such
independence is _essential_; any compulsion would destroy liberty, and
involve a contradiction in terms; but here is the final limit to which
human understanding can attain.

“_How_ this wonderful union of divine power, and the creature’s free
agency is effected, belongs to higher matters than we can reach. We only
know, as I said before, that we know _nothing, if we are not free_. The
arguments of a necessitarian may seem irrefragable, and convince you that
you are impelled to every action; but in the moment that you close his
book you _feel_ that you can open or shut it at pleasure, and call up,
or dismiss at will, those motives from your mind, which shall be the
_proximate_ and immediate causes of your so doing.

“In like manner Berkeley has perhaps convinced you in the abstract that
you cannot vouch for the existence of matter, and that ideas or shadows
are all that you can answer for; but do you really and substantially
believe less in the existence of a bullet which blows out the brains of
a fellow creature, or that of the sword which pierces his body, because
Berkeley assures you that they are only _ideas_, and you are not able
_metaphysically_ to contradict him?

“You have, my beloved brother, honoured me so far as to consult my
understanding upon these great, these awful subjects, and nothing
could tempt me to accept the office of guide, conscious as I am of my
own weakness, were I not firmly persuaded, that while mortal affairs
require human strength to unravel their intricacies, and overcome their
obstructions, humility is the only pilot to heaven.

“I was once led astray in the mazes of a bewildering philosophy which
grew darker and more uncertain the farther I presumed to penetrate its
recesses. I found torches, indeed, blazing at the portals, and proud of
a little daring, I entered on the labyrinth, vain-gloriously resolved
to reject all clue, and clear a passage for myself; but the damps of
ignorance and doubt soon extinguished the glaring lights that illuminated
the entrance. I found myself ere long involved in the thickest obscurity,
and when the abyss threatened to engulph the groping wanderer, was
grateful for that aid which in the pride of my own strength, I had
indignantly rejected. Assisted by revelation, I retraced my erring steps;
and am now contented with such measure of knowledge as God vouchsafes to
his creatures, as well as resolved never more to tempt the paths which
lead but to confusion worse confounded.

“Where difficulties present themselves, I thankfully incline to that side
which is the least obscure; and, as a belief in necessity, besides the
natural contrariety of its existence with the evidence of our senses,
which proclaim us free agents, would involve an absolute and unqualified
rejection of the Christian scheme, I find no hesitation in abandoning it
to the winds.

“Natural religion presents God to our contemplation in the wonderful
unapproachable character of sovereignty, wisdom, and power. The
_Christian_ sees him brought home to our hearts, and domesticated with
our gratitude, our tenderness, and admiration. In Jesus Christ we behold
the Emanuel, the _God_ with us; redeeming in his love, sustaining by his
spirit, astonishing by his mercy. If I turn from the only door, the only
way, the only shepherd that is provided for me, and look to myself for
a staff of support through the valley of death, what do I find? Alas!
infirmity so pitiable, sin so inseparable from every purpose and every
performance, that I am ready to give my suffrage to the truth of Hooker’s
eloquent, but melancholy avowal, that ‘the very best action of the most
virtuous human being, _requires to be forgiven_.’”

You have now, my dear friend, an outline of the plan upon which we set
out with our search after Truth: and from the moment in which the
conversation that I have reported took place, my brother has passed some
hours of every day in reading and talking on these solemn subjects.

Butler’s Analogy with Wilson’s excellent Letters of Explanation;
Gregory’s Letters and Chalmers’ Evidences, have particularly delighted
him. We have read _Tremaine_ together, and some parts of the reasoning
contained in the third volume of that valuable little work have most
powerfully impressed his mind, while others have failed of satisfying
him. My principal objections to Tremaine are, that the author contents
himself with allowing us to _suppose_ that the hero becomes a Christian.
Secondly, Dr. Evelyn, though a very worthy, and a very sensible man,
appears more like a good humoured country gentleman, than a clergyman,
the professional piety of whom might have been added to his counsel
without detracting from its force. It is a pity also that so strong a
stimulant as love should be allowed by _possibility_ to mingle in the
motives to conversion, and by so doing, sully the integrity of change.
With these defects, however, and some inequalities in the argument,
Tremaine is a charming work, and breathes nothing from beginning to end,
which is not calculated, in some way or other, to render people wiser and
better who read it; a character which it would be a great happiness were
to be able with truth to attribute in this age of novels to many of the
most celebrated amongst them.

Having said so much of my invalid’s _mind_, I must mournfully add of
his _bodily_ frame, that it gradually declines, yet so imperceptibly,
that it requires such minute observation as strong affection can alone
awaken, to perceive the progress of decay. My dear children, and our
friend Mr. Otway, unite in kindest remembrances to you. Speak of us all
to our poor neighbours with affectionate recollection, and tell them
that I long to re-visit my little valley, and am only supported through
the pain of absence from home, and the fatigue of more society, than for
many years I have been accustomed to, by the pleasant assurance that I am
not _uselessly_ employed. The remarks of my young people, in a land of
strangers, furnish me too with a perpetual source of gratification, they
are so true to nature and good sense, as well as feeling. We continue to
hear constantly from Arthur, who is happy in the company of Mr. Charles
Falkland, a young man whose friendship I anticipate for my Frederick
with great pleasure. We hear also of Lord and Lady Crayton, of whom I
wish I could add that our accounts are agreeable. Lord C. is, I fear,
ill calculated to make my poor niece happy; and they both exhibit, but
too faithfully, a specimen of fashionable marriage. I tremble, as I look
forward, and bless God when I gaze with thankfulness on my children, that
they have been preserved from the vortex of folly, which draws thousands
daily into its dangerous and seductive abyss. Can all the riches of the
East, added to all “the boast of heraldry, and pomp of power,” supply
the place of domestic love, or compensate for the absence of moral
virtue? I sometimes feel like an old picture that, after having been
hung up during a century, has suddenly received the gift of animation,
and descended from its frame to mingle in the social group. The _world_,
even as seen at this distance from our metropolis, appears almost as
new to me as to my girls; and, I am sorry to confess, how little find
in it to gratify my mental taste. Perhaps retirement may have soured
my disposition, but if this be not the case, society is not _improved_
in this kingdom. We are encircled by people of princely fortune; and
luxury, in all its fertility of invention, reigns throughout this rich
and beautiful country. But, oh! how much I miss the England of my early
recollections! Mr. Otway and I often mourn over the progress of what is
falsely called refinement, which has made the lower classes forget the
simple sobriety, the active industry, the nice cleanliness of former
times, and has rendered the higher orders a disgusting engraftment of
foreign manners, customs, and language, upon a British stock. My dear
home! My pure mountain breezes and rational fire-side, I sigh to behold
you once more! Adieu, my valued friend. I hope to hear from you before we
leave Marsden, and am,

                            Sincerely yours,

                                                        CAROLINE DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXVI.

FROM EMILY DOUGLAS TO MISS SANDFORD.


My dearest Julia,

This will, probably, be my last letter from Marsden, unless any
unfavourable change in my dear uncle’s health should alter the present
arrangements for our departure. We are to go by Brighton and Dieppe,
instead of by the route first proposed; and you may expect to hear from
me as frequently as possible, though I shall never persecute you with my
_travels as travels_: for I do believe there is nothing left in France
or Italy, which has not been _served up_ in every practicable variety
of form, to meet each different character of taste; but I trust to your
affection for finding interest in every stage of our journey, though
the map of it be so familiar to your memory as to deprive me of all
hope to amuse you by descriptions of scenery or costumes. Since I wrote
last, I have seen much that was new to _me_, without going abroad; and,
though I should be very ungrateful not to acknowledge thankfully the
great kindness with which we have been received in Hampshire, I cannot
permit _even_ gratitude to blind me, and confound distinctions which I
never desire to see melted into an undistinguishable mass of uniform
colouring. My dear Julia, I sometimes stare with such amazement at the
things that present themselves, as to fear that my eye-lids may be
overstrained, and lose the power of closing; but, instead of egotizing
on the effects produced upon my mind, I will beg you to accompany me to
three or four splendid mansions in our neighbourhood, where you shall
judge for yourself. About a week ago, Mr. Otway, Frederick, Charlotte,
and I, took a delightful ride through the New Forest, to pay our respects
to Mrs. Hannaper, a _Begum_ of this country, who commands several hundred
votes, and who is, therefore, a grand bone of contention in this terrible
electioneering struggle. She has a beautiful niece, Miss Ormsby, who is
dressed all over in the colours of that party which her aunt espouses;
and is so full of _stripes_ that she might be supposed to have made her
gown and shawl out of the flag of a ship belonging to the United States.
This young lady assists Mrs. Hannaper in canvassing for her favourite
candidate, to whom it is said that she is to be married; and I have heard
many gentlemen complain of being attacked with such perseverance, as to
find great difficulty in retreating from the united influence of beauty
and supplication. As we rode along, several groups of riotous, drunken
men, in smock frocks, bearing bunches of buff and blue ribbons in their
hats, interrupted our progress, and startled our horses, by tumultuary
shouts which rent the air with cries “Sir Christopher Cromie, and Mrs.
Hannaper for ever!” As we approached to Lyndhurst, the vociferation
increased, and we were just consulting whether it would not be prudent to
turn about, when a crowd came rushing down the road, which branched off
at right angles with that by which we were journeying forward; and we
found ourselves immediately surrounded by three or four hundred people,
who had taken Mrs. Hannaper’s horses from the carriage in which she and
her niece were sitting, and insisted on drawing them home themselves,
to testify their attachment to the cause which she patronizes. Mrs.
Hannaper is apparently from sixty to sixty-five, with a face and form
neither rough nor unpleasing; but a cloth habit, tight beaver hat, over
a Brutus wig, a coloured silk handkerchief tied round her throat, and
a collar rising almost to her cheek bones, gave so masculine an air
as completely to deceive me, while the interposition of some drooping
branches of an ash tree concealed the lower part of her dress from my
view. She stood up in her barouchette, waved her hat to the multitude,
huzzaed, and acted so like a man upon the occasion, that when I came near
enough to see a petticoat, I blushed for the honour of my sex. Her niece
held a parasol over her head, and seemed less inclined to make these
outrageous demonstrations than her aunt; but she held a sort of banner
in the left hand with Sir Christopher’s name worked in gold letters, and
her hat was ornamented with a great cockade of his colours. The carriage
stopped when we appeared, and Mrs. Hannaper covering her head sat down,
and desiring Mr. Otway, whom she had previously seen, to present my
brother, sister, and me, very politely requested us to breakfast on the
following day, when she meant, as she told us, to turn out a bagged fox;
and her “Liliputians”--the name by which she distinguished a favourite
pack of some tiny breed, with the technical appellation of which I am
unacquainted. “Come early,” added she, “Sir Christopher, and a few
friends, will be at Parham, where I shall be happy to see you.” I was
beginning to say why we could not accept her kind invitation, when, in
the same moment, I read “do let us go” in Frederick’s eye, and a glance
from Mr. Otway’s, in which was legibly written, “it is something _new_,
do not refuse.” I suppose that I mismanaged my excuse, for Mrs. Hannaper,
nothing daunted, replied, “oh really you _must_ come, I never take
refusals.” Mr. Otway told her that _some_ of the party would certainly
attend her; and the intoxicated _leaders_ becoming impatient of so long a
parley, threw up a cloud of hats into the air, with a deafening uproar,
and the ladies were whirled along to our no small contentment, for our
steeds threatened, by the noise, to become ungovernable. When we had
resumed our peaceful track, we interchanged, as you may believe, some
remarks upon the extraordinary vision that had just crossed our path. Mr.
Otway was excessively amused by Charlotte’s asking whether Mrs. Hannaper,
and her niece, were _Blue-stockings_. “No, I dare say not,” answered our
friend. “Why do _you_ suppose them to be so?” “Oh,” replied Charlotte,
“I have no reason, further than that from the masculine air of these
ladies, I conclude that they must be disliked extremely by the other sex,
and perhaps considered _intruders_ sufficiently to be called _Blues_.”
An explanation ensued, and we learned that, though it is an inexcusable
offence for a woman to fancy that she possesses any understanding, or is
capable of any mental acquirement, notwithstanding that Heaven may have
bestowed upon her the brightest abilities, it is perfectly admissible,
under certain circumstances, to be a female _Nimrod_--to hunt and course,
dress like a mail coachman, drive a curricle at full speed, ride like a
Bedouin Arab, and be in at the death. Nay, Mr. Otway assured us, that
Mrs. Hannaper is generally ornamented by the Fox’s brush in returning
from the chase, and that she cries talliho with peculiar gusto! “But
then,” added he, “she is a woman of immense fortune; and, however people
might laugh at inferior folk, so many gentlemen are aspiring to the hand
of this Diana, that a thousand knights would take the field to resent
the slightest indignity offered to the goddess of their adoration.” No
language can paint my astonishment to learn that this old lady went
out hunting; to hear her huzzaing, and to see her manly costume, had
been wonder enough for one day; _but_ to fancy it possible, that a
_veteran_ belle of Mrs. Hannaper’s age, could dream of marriage, or,
like queen Elizabeth, permit herself, in _this_ age of the world, to
be surrounded by people _daring_ to talk of love to a _woman of sixty_,
was something beyond my comprehension or credulity. For the first time
in my life I thought, dearest Mr. Otway ill-natured, and, slackening my
pace, fell back with Charlotte, allowing him, and Frederick, to take
the lead--shall I own my weakness? I felt so humbled for my sex, that
low spirits took possession of me; a melancholy dialogue succeeded, and
a hearty fit of tears relieved the oppression which manners so novel
had occasioned. My sister, and I, entreated that we might not be forced
to attend the morning party; so Frederick went alone, and came back
thoroughly disgusted with all that he saw. A gay party met at a breakfast
_à la fourchette_, where the ladies, he told us, played their parts most
vigorously at ham, dried fish, and all sorts of substantial fare, not
disdaining to wash it down with a glass of champagne.

“To horse, to horse,” was the next order of the day, and the ladies,
dressed in uniform, rode in the most sportsman-like manner, clearing
gates, banks, and ditches. I cannot dwell upon the disgraceful theme.
Alas! is learning decried? Are women ridiculed for improving their
minds, and gaining useful knowledge, while such a surrender of every
characteristic that distinguishes the feminine from the masculine gender,
is tolerated and encouraged? I feel a _nausea_ when I hear the name of
Hannaper; but I have not done with her yet. In a day or two after our
meeting, she came to see us, having duly ascertained that my uncle would
not give his interest to either party at the approaching election; and
certainly nothing can be more appropriate than the name by which she is
called in the country. “_Jack Hannaper_,” exactly prepares one for the
abrupt masculine unceremonious _assault_ which she makes on the people
at whose houses she visits. Mamma’s gentle and retiring manner, the
gravity of her dress, and total absence of interest in the gossip of
the neighbourhood, induced the Dame of Parham Hall, to address herself
chiefly to my uncle, whom she overpowered with her volubility. After
having talked of her dogs which have got the distemper, of a horse which
she had shot, _perhaps_ with her own hand, because it had the glanders,
she proceeded, and with all the technicality of the hustings, proclaimed
the state of the poll, her intention of appearing on a favourite charger
at the head of her _plumpers_, and giving a _coup de grace_ to the enemy.
Perceiving, it may be, from the languid appearance of my dear uncle,
that he was fatigued by this farrago of nonsense, Mrs. Hannaper suddenly
turned to me, and said, “Oh, but my dear Miss Douglas, you really had a
great loss in not coming to Parham the other day. We had very good fun I
assure you, and I dare say you will be glad to hear that your brother was
much admired. He rides particularly well, and no centaur ever sat a horse
more firmly. Upon my word he is a very handsome fine young fellow, and
I have no doubt will make a figure yet. I shall be always happy to see
him at Parham Hall.” Frederick’s praises would go far to put me in good
humour with any medium through which they met my ear; but these fell upon
it in sounds so coarse, and unaccustomed, that I felt they were a sort
of profanation, and wished that my brother had never joined the unrefined
society of this _unfeminine female_. My cheeks glowed, but not with
pleasure. It was a fevered flush. I longed for Mrs. Hannaper’s departure,
and did not know how to answer her; but she did not leave me many seconds
in a state of embarrassment on Frederick’s account. All minor vexation
was presently merged in the shame which I felt on my _own_, when this
“she wolf with unrelenting fangs,” seized my arm, and, starting with real
or affected recollection, exclaimed, “Well, but only fancy my omitting to
tell you before, that Sir Archibald Johnson is thinking of you for his
son, who makes no kind of objection, and if your fortune can liberate
the estate from some thousands of embarrassment, it will be quite a nice
hit. Lady Johnson of Norbury Park will not sound badly. The settlements
and _pin money_ will be liberal I dare say, and any assistance which
my work-people in London can give, I shall be vastly happy, I assure
you, to offer. You know that you need not have much at present: a few
things made by the first hands will do, till you go to town yourself,
and choose your own jewels, and select your own favourite colours. I am
sure that Sir Archibald will be anxious to hasten matters, for I know at
this moment, that a sum of ten thousand is called in by Mr. Fletcher,
who is going to marry one of his girls famously to that madcap, Colonel
Anstruther, who will be as rich as a jew bye and bye. To be sure he is
a sad _roué_ at present, but either he will sow his wild oats or run a
muck. If the latter, he will shoot himself, or end his days in the Fleet;
but people must not look forward; if we did, what a dull sort of thing
you know it would be. I doat on the little Scotch song, which says ‘the
present moment is our ain, the next we never saw;’ how pretty!”

By this time I was burning indeed: shame, indignation, and surprise, were
so strongly excited, that, like contrary forces, they had the effect of
paralyzing all movement. I sat like a fool, totally unable to speak; and
how long I should have been doomed to listen to a strain so uncouth,
the more humiliating, because uttered in the presence of mamma and my
uncle, I know not, if Mr. Bolton had not been announced in this crisis,
when Mrs. Hannaper jumped up, called her niece, who had been talking to
Charlotte in the music-room adjoining, and, hastily nodding to me, shook
my hand with an air of _intelligence_, saying, “I hate old Bolton, so
must take fresh ground; well, we will talk over matters when next we
meet, and _perhaps_ the neighbourhood may be enlivened by more than _one_
wedding ere long.” Miss Ormsby laughed so loud as this sally burst upon
her ear, that I was absolutely confounded. “Good morrow” being hurried
over, the same opening of the door served to usher in the old gentleman,
to whose _rescue_ I had been once before indebted, and to float away
the most intolerable specimen of inelegance and indelicacy that I ever
met with in the form of woman. The dear little Mr. Bolton was received
with rapture. He seemed like a guardian spirit, and I believe that he
saw how truly he was welcome to me, as in the most good-humoured and
playful manner possible, he said, “Oh, do you know I have had a great
escape. Mrs. Hannaper looked as if she could have eaten me up; and only
that your hall is so spacious, I question whether I could have avoided a
_bite_ at least. Miss Douglas, I take it into my head that this amazonian
_chieftainess_ is not a greater favourite of yours than she is of mine.”
I confessed that she would not be my _model_, and Mr. Bolton continued,
“But you and I shall have ample revenge, if I may depend on a little bit
of _backstairs_ intelligence which has reached me through my own man.

“Now, you must not set me down as an old gossip because I tell you so,
and suppose that I am always employed in running to and fro, to pick
up scandal; but really poetic justice requires that such a creature
as Mrs. Hannaper should receive _some_ check, and be reminded of her
age, before she is called to her great account. So far therefore, from
thinking myself ill-natured at _chuckling_ in the anticipation of a
disappointment, which I have good reason to believe is suspended by a
hair over her head, I am bound as a Christian to rejoice in any thing
that may awaken her to a sense of her folly, and drive her to more
serious thoughts than those which possess her idle brain.”

Much as I dislike Mrs. Hannaper, there was something so repugnant to my
feelings of humanity in suffering a fellow-creature to encounter any
ill, which timely notice might prevent, that I expostulated with Mr.
Bolton, and implored him to apprize the old lady of his apprehensions,
that so the catastrophe, however it might threaten, should be averted.
Mr. Bolton was silent for a moment, while he fixed his eyes intently upon
me, then catching my hand affectionately, he pressed it like a friend of
the “olden time,” and with a tear starting to his eye, said, “God bless
you child! my heart opens to the voice of nature, and it has taken me
by surprise to-day, for her’s is a language which I seldom hear.” Oh,
Julia, when such a commonplace sentiment as that which I had expressed,
in wishing to spare a fellow-creature pain, had power to astonish
by its novelty, and delight for its moral virtue, what a comment is
furnished by such an anecdote as this upon modern society. If this be
the world (and people are the same I suppose, whether rolling through the
streets of London, or over the roads in Hampshire), defend me from its
attractions. I feel like the country mouse longing for my grey peas and
peaceful Glenalta; but the lovely Alps will refresh my eyes with images
of God’s creation, and I shall soon bid farewell to these disgusting
scenes of artificial life.

Mr. Bolton, after the little episode which I have described, returned
to the merry mood, and rubbing his hands in an ecstacy, said, “No, no,
depend upon it I will be ‘mute as a coach-horse.’ You shall none of
you know a word of the under-plot which is weaving. I will not be a
tell-tale. Let all things take their course.”

This dear little man is the soul of pleasantry, and seems to have an
excellent heart, though bound up in a quaint outside. He is _very_
English, and has a _snug_ facetiousness of manner irresistibly diverting.
I hope that I may be fortunate enough to meet him often in this
neighbourhood, for he has both tact and feeling; and while his uncommon
drollery amuses, his keen observation protects. He seems to delight in
young people, and to understand _us_. My uncle enjoys his company, and
they had a great deal of conversation, after which he took his leave,
entreating that we should not fail to meet him at Lady Campion’s, to
whose house we were invited for the following morning, to a trial of
skill in archery. The time for these revels is not yet come; but as
several families are prevented this year, I am told, from being in town,
through one cause or other, they are doing the best they can to keep up
the ball of pleasure, and _rehearse_ for a more full and fashionable
season. Mr. Bolton was _my_ allurement, and the hope of seeing him,
emboldened me to go under the wing of Mr. Otway, accompanied by Charlotte
and Frederick.

Lady Campion and her daughters are come home within the last month, from
Italy. They are a lovely group. Mother and daughters beautiful, and
dressed in the same way, like sisters, it was not easy to distinguish the
parent from the offspring. I do not like this. Surely the most tender
love may subsist without this confusion of relationships. In the deep
attachment which binds my heart to the precious author of my being, how
sorry I should be even for a moment, to forget that she is my _mother_.
But though not yet twenty, I feel as if I were fourscore, when I look
around me. Nothing could be prettier than the little lawn on which we
marshalled to see the archers. The graceful figures, the skill with
which they managed the bow, the beauty of the fair competitors, clad in
a livery of “Lincoln green,” the exquisite flowers which perfumed the
amphitheatre of their sports, altogether charmed Charlotte and me. We
were asked to join the lists, but as we could truly plead ignorance of
the art, we gladly dropped back upon a fringe of the finest rhododendrons
I ever beheld, lined by a bank of arbutus, to witness the combat. There
were from forty to fifty spectators, amongst whom were only two, besides
Mr. Bolton, whom I ever desire to see again. These were a Mrs. and Miss
Fraser, Scotch people, a mother and daughter, very unlike our pretty
hostess, who, to my amazement, I found was a rival candidate for the
prize with her _children_; and, alas, _can_ you believe it! is jealous
of a Lord Thornborough’s attentions to the elder of them. This young
and vapid peer was of our party; the most finnikin object that you can
imagine. He had called one day at Marsden, so that I did not see him for
the _first_ time at Lady Campion’s; and when he visited my uncle, Fanny,
whose _fresh naïveté_ supplies a constant source of amusement to us,
said, “Well, if in one of my walks I met Lord Thornborough and his friend
Mr. Freeman (a young man of fashion who has accompanied him to this
country), I am sure that I could not help offering them my assistance
were there any difficulty to be got over; for certainly those young men
could not help themselves over a hedge, ditch, or stile.”

I _must_ give you a sketch of this London pair. They have both such
heads for size, from the abundance of curled hair and whiskers that
disfigure them, that if their bodies were concealed you would expect
to see giants, judging by the proportion of limb that would suit such
prodigious _capitals_. On the contrary, however, they are both rather
diminutive than tall; their hands are not larger than a young lady’s, and
as white as alabaster. Add to this appearance, rings, pins, chains, &c.,
and judge whether Fanny was very wide of the mark, when, with the rosy
glow of sixteen, “redolent of life and spring,” her humanity would prompt
the offer of her aid to creatures so pale, so thin, so cadaverous, that
Mr. Bolton very truly said, that “they looked like weavers just out of
an hospital.” But I have not done. How _can_ I believe the things that
I hear? Two pink spots, which alone distinguished Lord Thornborough’s
face from that of a corpse, and which I thought indicated consumption,
are, Mr. Bolton declares, positively rouge! I blush as I write the word!
But to return to the archery.--The gentlemen were not so successful as
the ladies: Miss Campion sped her arrow right through the centre of the
target, and claimed a victory, which her mother, who came within half an
inch of the bull’s eye, refused to admit, demanding to be queen herself,
and awarding only the second prize to her daughter. An altercation
ensued, and the angry looks, the unkind taunts which I witnessed, live
still in my memory.

Matters grew so serious, that Mr. Otway proposed lots: Lady Campion drew
the longest, and darting a look of fire at her rival, was crowned by
Lord Thornborough, whom she in turn _voted_ to be winner in the teeth
of justice and truth; and, after having reciprocally distinguished him
by a wreath of Fame, caught him by the hand, and triumphantly led the
way towards a fine Grecian temple in the grounds, where a magnificent
collation was prepared, and where the _pseudo_ king and queen occupied a
throne of scarlet and gold, decorated with laurels; while the rightful
monarchs had not even the satisfaction of _mingling_ their complaints,
as the _real_ hero was a sweet young midshipman, son to Mrs. Fraser, who
laughed heartily at being _choused_, as he said, out of his conquest, and
who seemed of much too noble a stamp to kneel at the feet of a haughty
_regina_, who, though herself mortified, treated him with _sovereign_
contempt.

While we were seated at a table covered with refreshments, one of the
Misses Campion asked me, so suddenly, the ridiculous question, “Have you
been out yet?” that though I have heard that it is the _technical_ phrase
for being presented in the world, the more familiar meaning occurred
to my mind, and, like an idiot, I answered, that I should think a walk
round the grounds very pleasant. A loud and rude burst of laughter drew
the attention of the company upon me, and would have overwhelmed me with
confusion, if Mr. Bolton, who was sitting between me and my tormentor,
had not, with the celerity of an arrow, upset a flask of Champagne into
the lap of the fair follower of Diana, which produced such a prompt
metamorphosis, as “turned the green one red” in an instant, and the laugh
against her from me. The thing was done so adroitly, that it appeared
accidental, and as no one was more busy than the _perpetrator_ in
offering the most gallant commiseration, I never knew till two days after
that I was thus indebted in a third instance to my faithful knight.

We adjourned presently to a music-room, where harp and piano-forte,
with all “means and appliances to boot,” challenged competition in a
new form; and here another sad scene was exhibited. A charming Italian
duet was asked for by Lord Thornborough, and Miss Campion, who was in
the habit of singing the second, was called very authoritively by her
mother to take her part: she was also to accompany on the piano-forte.
With a cheerful alacrity which delighted me, as evincing, I thought, a
sweet forgiving temper, she took her seat at the instrument; but the
harmony was soon disturbed, for she had no sooner _landed_ her mother
in a solo recitative, which the latter was singing to admiration, than,
jumping up, overturning the music-desk, and rushing towards a window, she
exclaimed, “Look at the eagle!” The company followed; and a crow, which
had crossed the house, and was picking up worms in the lawn, was the only
winged animal that presented itself to view. Peals of unmeaning laughter
succeeded. Lady Campion was outrageous, and could scarcely preserve an
appearance of decency; but as I felt how very irritating her daughter
_intended_ to be, I begged Mrs. and Miss Fraser to come and make a little
party at her side. We entreated her to excuse Miss Campion’s mistake, and
to indulge us with a repetition of the delightful air in which she had
been interrupted.

After much disquietude, matters were arranged once more, and the solo was
achieved; but in the midst of the concluding movement, which was very
brilliant, and calculated to make a striking impression in the winding
up, Miss Campion uttered a piercing shriek, the effect of which was
ludicrous in the extreme, mingling as it did with the full harmony, and
vociferated, “a bee, a bee!” and a bee there certainly _was_, crawling up
the leg of the piano-forte, so weak and so drowsy after the cold weather,
that the last of its _intentions_, poor thing, seemed to be to inflict
the slightest injury on any one. Frederick put the obnoxious insect out
of the window, but Lady Campion was now inexorable: she lost all control
over looks and manner, which seemed to affect every one, except the
person to whom they were directed; and, quite shocked by the scene, I
requested that we might take our departure, which we did without delay,
leaving such a domestic _broil_ as I had then witnessed for the first
time, to cool as it might.

Lord Thornborough handed me to the carriage, and with an unfeeling “Hah!
hah! hah!” said, Miss Douglas, “you have come in for a thunder-storm
to-day. Her ladyship was rather sublime; don’t you think so?” I was too
much disgusted to reply, and, contenting myself with a passing bow, was
happy to find myself on the high road to Marsden.

Am I sure that my senses do not deceive me, and that such things are?
Is the sacred relationship of parent and child _out of fashion_? And is
it possible, that while a daughter forgets the respect due to a mother,
mothers have forgotten to respect themselves? I am not surprised now,
when I hear Mr. Otway and Mr. Bolton speak of the present _times_, and
compare them with the period immediately preceding the Revolution in
France. I heard them agree a day or two ago in drawing the parallel
with mournful fidelity, and finding in the frightful demoralization of
continental manners, which is making, they said, rapid progress in these
countries, but too certain a prognostic of the fate that will follow, if
the tide be not arrested, of which there seems but little hope.

If I had staid at home I should never have known these things; and
however one may detest, I do not feel that we can become familiar with
what is wrong, without being the worse for it.

In two days after Lady Campion’s _popping-jay_, we were forced by my
uncle to attend an evening party at Lady Neville’s. It is not more than
two months since she has lost a beautiful and accomplished daughter, who
died of decline. If _my_ beloved mother had hung over the dying couch
of a child, would _she_----but I must curb myself, and _relate_ facts,
not _comment_ upon them, or I shall never have done. Till ten o’clock
at night we did not go to Neville Court, though the cards particularly
notified “an early party;” and when we reached that splendid mansion,
we found an immense assemblage of the _beau monde_, greater than it was
possible to suppose could be mustered at such a distance from London
which is the focus of all fashionable rays, a few of which only are
scattered and refracted by various accidents in certain individual
families, as cracks in a glass will disturb the transmission of the sun’s
beams. _Here_ was another _lie direct_, for the cards also informed
us, that the party was to be a “_small_” one. Why this perversion of
language? I cannot fathom it. If some lurking remnant of compunctious
feeling crossed the heart of Lady Neville; and in the words “small” and
“early” she discovered a slight palliation of the offence against decency
(for I will not profane the sweet idea of maternal love by using its
language in _such_ company), which she had determined on committing,
I should perceive the reason of the strange deception of which I am
speaking, but all was gaiety and glitter. Lady Neville and her daughters
sparkled with diamonds arranged upon a sort of gossamer drapery, so
light, so graceful, so artificially adjusted, fashionable and becoming,
that mourning was the last sentiment which such paraphernalia could
excite or indicate. Their dress told lies as well as their cards.

The house at Neville Court is superb, and as I wandered from room to
room with the amiable Frasers and my own Charlotte, I felt the luxury of
kindred sentiment in a _new world_, and gave free course to thoughts that
were little in unison with the passing scene. I fancied this magnificent
ball-room, with its chandeliers, its lustres, and chalked floor, two
short months ago, _perhaps_, the theatre of _another_ sort of assembly. I
marked the spot where, in imagination, I could descry the lonely tressels
supporting their sad and youthful burthen----that opening flower untimely
torn from its stalk, and snatched from the warm hopes of unfolding
spring. I beheld the mutes, and saw the tables spread with funeral fare;
the “cold baked meats” of death; the sable hangings; the hirelings of
office, marshalling their dismal train, at least with _features screwed_
to the occasion, and _voices_ subdued to whisper. With the most painful
feelings I asked within myself, “must we fly from the fondest ties of
nature, to seek for sorrow in ‘those chambers of imagery supplied from
the undertaker’s mercenary taste;’ and fail to find it enshrined within
the breast of a mother or a sister?” My cheek _curdled_, and my breathing
became oppressed, while these melancholy phantoms glided past my mental
vision, and like spectres mingled in the dance. The brilliant ball-room
seemed to me no other than Holbein’s “dance of Death;” and when I was
roused from my reverie by, “Miss Douglas, will you _daunce_?” let slip,
as if from the mouth of one just dropping asleep, whose muscles had
become too flaccid to retain the words within its lips any longer, I
started as if I had been shot by one of Lady Campion’s arrows, and turned
round upon--Mr. Johnson. Though I delight in dancing, there was too
much lead at my heart to allow of merriment in my feet at this moment;
and I therefore instinctively declined, and for a time got rid of the
consummate puppyism of this disagreeable young man.

To my utter astonishment I was asked to join in the next quadrille by
Lord Thornborough, whose politeness I should not have supposed from
any thing else I had witnessed, could have induced the remembrance of
a country lass, and a stranger (though the latter is the highest claim
to attention in my dear Ireland), amidst such dazzling beauty and
attraction as solicited his regards. You see I did him injustice, and am
ready to make the _amende honorable_; but as I had refused Mr. Johnson,
I could not dance with any one else, and though I did not regret this
circumstance from any admiration of _milord_, I confess to having found
it difficult to sit still, when the gloomy contemplations with which the
evening commenced, began to yield to the inspiring influence of lively
music. I had, however, the great pleasure of seeing Charlotte enjoying
a gratification which was denied to me; and, would you believe it, she
had scarcely begun to move, when a crowd was collected to see her dance.
Her figure is so like what one imagines of a Sylph, and her ear is so
perfect, that to admire her performance in a quadrille, would appear
nothing more than the necessary routine of cause and effect, if I had not
believed the group by which we were surrounded quite too artificial in
its construction to leave a corner for nature to slide in at. However, so
it was, that I heard several of the gentlemen express their approbation
in terms more energetic than I should have thought such indolent looking
people likely to employ on any occasion, _even_ of the moment; and dear
unconscious Charlotte seemed for a time _Reine de la fête_.

“Yes,” said Mr. Bolton, who came to sit by me for a little while,
“_there_ is the triumph of truth and native grace over all the
contrivances of fashion. There is your sister, who has never seen London
or Paris, bearing away the palm from all those painted dolls who are
swinging their persons round the room.”

Quadrilles ended, how shall I express my feelings at seeing Lady Campion
and Lord Thornborough get up to waltz! Timanthes, a painter of ancient
times, drew a veil over the face of a father whose grief he felt unequal
to pourtray. I must borrow his device, and let a curtain fall over an
exhibition which I wish obliterated from my memory. I found a few lines
by Frederick, which he wrote in London, after returning from a ball,
part of the concluding stanza of which shall finish my descant upon this
distasteful theme:

    “But there is something in a waltz which wears
      Off all the lovely bloom of virgin grace,
    When round Belinda’s form a stranger dares
      Fling the unhallowed arm in bold embrace,
      And rudely gazes on her beauteous face.”

The dancing wanted that _gaieté du cœur_ which alone renders it an
agreeable and animating amusement. The ladies glided like silver eels,
and the gentlemen groped about the room as if their eyes were shut, so
that absolutely, if a stranger had been introduced, who never saw a
modern ball-room before, he might have been excused for imagining that
the dancers were playing blind man’s buff, and afraid of knocking their
heads against the panels, if they moved their bodies without the utmost
circumspection. In short, a child of nature would wonder why people
should take the trouble of submitting their feet to a sort of _rhythm_
just enough to shackle their freedom, and prevent the luxury of perfect
inanition. Well, thought I to myself, this society is _fashionable_.
These men and women move in what is called the first circle. The former
will, many of them, become our Members of Parliament; senators, by whose
collective wisdom we are to be directed. These asses in human form, the
most idle, ignorant, effeminate animals possible to conceive, are to
be husbands, fathers, landlords, masters! It is a melancholy prospect,
and in looking to my own sex, on thoughts of which my mind from infancy
has dwelt with pride and pleasure, as the sweet depository of religion,
morals, fond affections, taste and talents softened down to social
converse, and illuminating the domestic sphere, oh, what a contrast meets
my eye! what will these creatures be when all that art can do to whiten
the poor sepulchre shall fail, and wrinkles insurmountable _will_ raise
their fearful lines of circumvalation round the once bright orbs? when
rouge itself, the last faithful handmaid of departing beauty, no longer
sticks to the haggard cheek, no longer lights up the extinguished eye;
when the ethereal form of finished symmetry is either swelled to the
mountain size of those round matrons who in vain would try to grasp the
pedal harp which shuns the corpulent embrace, or dwindled to the bony
frame which only serves for draperies to be hung upon? What will be the
fate of these hapless wrecks of vanished youth, when even cards, the
ultimate resource of age, the last strong hold of veteran nothingness,
shall cease to charm? Oh, my Julia, how will these miserable beings
tremble, as the grave yawns beneath their feet! Eternity awaits all
these butterflies, whether male or female; and I shudder, as imagination
presents the grisly group of coxcombs, and of belles, stripped of their
paint and patches, wigs, and waltzes, and standing to receive the final
sentence at an Almighty tribunal.

I was interrupted in my _sermon_ by a call to the library. It was to meet
our new chaplain, for whom my uncle promised to provide, when he procured
the appointment of Mr. Oliphant to the parish of Glenalta; and what
words can describe our joy at finding in this young man, no other than
your neighbour and intimate friend, Alfred Stanley. A person with whom
we all feel so well acquainted, and have such reason, through your dear
aunt’s eloquent sketches of his character, to admire and value without
having ever seen him till now.

Mamma, you know of old, loves to play us a little trick sometimes; and
in the present instance I find that all the Checkley family have been
in league with her to surprise us. Judge then of our astonishment at
receiving your packet by Mr. Stanley, whose groom returns to-morrow into
Derbyshire, and shall take this _volume_ to you.

A few days now will see us _en route_. I cannot hope to send you more
than a _line_ till I reach Paris.

Adieu, my dearest Julia; I would that we had done with towns, and were
safely arrived in that beautiful region where the mighty “Alps have
reared a throne” worthy of those skies which gild their everlasting
snows with refulgent glory.

A thousand loves attend you all.

                         Ever your affectionate,

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XXXVII.

REV. MR. OLIPHANT TO MR. OTWAY.


To you, my dear friend, I address myself upon the present occasion,
though gratitude has long ere this, dictated a return of my best
acknowledgments to Mrs. Douglas, for _two_ such letters as deserve
indeed my heart-felt thanks. But I have been painfully occupied, and I
leave to your discretion the time and method of explaining to my dear
friend, the cause of my silence, which is no other than the death of our
worthy and much lamented neighbour Mr. Bentley, an event, intelligence
of which, I well know, will not be heard at Marsden with indifference.
A fortnight ago he returned, as usual, from his ride, accompanied by
George, and immediately on entering the house, fell into a sort of
fit, which appeared to result from determination of blood towards the
head. George sent directly for me, and we had Mr. Pigot immediately from
Tralee, who acted with judgment, and ere the surgeon and physician, for
whom we sent to Dublin, had reached Mount Prospect, our poor friend had
recovered his sensibility. The devotion of George to his uncle could
not be exceeded, and it was so purely disinterested, that the wealth of
Potosi would have weighed but as a feather in the balance, against the
re-establishment of Mr. Bentley’s health. The medical people, however,
saw from the first, that his situation was precarious, of which he was
conscious from the beginning himself. With Christian courage, he began
to prepare for the awful change which he perceived to be approaching,
and truly died the death of the righteous. Yesterday evening he breathed
his last in the arms of his nephew. I never left him, except for the
necessary purposes of refreshment, from the time of his first seizure,
and have the happiness of believing that my presence afforded him
comfort. As the short period of his indisposition spared him any great
exhaustion of strength, he spoke without uneasiness, and in the most
collected manner adverted to the nature of his hopes. Nothing could be
more deeply interesting than his discourse, during the few latter hours
which preceded the closing scene.

“Oliphant,” said he, “I have never in my life, been an unbeliever; but
how small is the difference between infidelity, and a mere nominal
Christianity: a meagre religion of form and habit! Nay, of the two, is
there not a better chance, that the avowed scoffer, terrified by the
abyss which lies before him, may turn from the evil of his ways, than
the self-satisfied moralist, who depends on his miserable, his imperfect
works, for eternal salvation? My friend, I was in the latter predicament.
I received a commonplace Church of England education, said my prayers
mechanically, went to church, gave alms, abstained from travelling on
Sundays; and was for years of my life, so entirely persuaded, that as a
Christian character, I stood on a high pedestal, removed from the vulgar
level of mankind, that the Pharisee’s words, though not perhaps actually
expressed by my lips, were never far from my heart; and, ‘Lord, I thank
Thee, that I am not as other men,’ was a sentiment continually present to
me, whenever I thought upon serious subjects. Oh, how far from God was I
in those days, when I thought myself so near Him!”

Here he paused, and after the interval of a few minutes, resumed the
train of solemn reflection upon which he had entered.

“Yes,” added he, “blessed be Heaven, such vain-glorious delusions are far
from me now, and I am not ashamed to say, that I owe the change to this
young man.”

Here poor George was completely overwhelmed. He pressed his uncle’s hand
to his lips, and shed a torrent of tears.

“George,” continued the dying man, “first taught me the religion of the
heart. Of what avail are the cold conclusions of reason? they teach
not humility, they do not subdue the passions, they do not improve the
temper, nor allay one demoniac ebullition of malice or revenge. My
practice has been wretchedly vacillating. I have been continually led
away from the right way; but it is something to know this, and to put no
confidence in aught but the redeeming mercy of Him who suffered in our
mortal form, for guilty man, and died upon the cross to save our souls
alive.”

My poor friend told me that his worldly affairs were all settled.

“My temporal house,” said he, “has been set in order. May the heavenly
mansions be opened to receive me!”

From time to time, he held this kind of language, placidly awaiting
the awful mandate. The bursting of a blood vessel in the temple is not
attended by much pain, and he suffered none that was not incident to
the remedies employed. On Tuesday he gave me a key, and told me where
I should find all his papers regularly labelled, adding, “George’s
character is not one of shew. He will be sorry for me in the bottom
of his heart: give him assistance now, and he will not need it long.
Religion has taken fast hold upon him, and her consolations will quickly
restore the equilibrium of his spirits. He will never _forget_, but he
will soon cease to _grieve_.”

After so saying, he fell into a tranquil slumber, and spoke no more,
except to ask for certain portions of the sacred volume. He repeated the
15th chapter of St. John with fervour; desired us to read the 53d of
Isaiah, the 23d Psalm, and other favourite parts of scripture. A restless
night proclaimed the approach of death, and the last afternoon witnessed
his peaceful exit. He left his affectionate regards for all of you, and
has bequeathed, he told me, some little memorial of respectful esteem to
each individual at Glenalta and Lisfarne.

Thus has passed away our kind-hearted neighbour Roger Bentley, and his
loss would be too sad to dwell upon, if his excellent nephew were not
heir to his uncle’s virtues, as well as property. No change will be
felt, I venture to assert, by any one who depended on the bounty of our
departed friend. Poor George is absorbed in silent sorrow; he neither
weeps nor talks, but the chalky paleness of his countenance, is a
faithful index to what passes within. He courts solitude, and wishes no
other companionship than his Bible. When the last ceremony is performed,
I shall write to my dear friend, Mrs. Douglas, and in the mean time, with
the most affectionate remembrances to her, the General, and _my pupils_,
believe me, my dear sir,

                          Yours most sincerely,

                                                             J. OLIPHANT.



LETTER XXXVIII.

FROM EDWARD OTWAY, ESQ. TO REV. MR. OLIPHANT.


My dear Oliphant,

I cannot describe the shock which your intelligence imparted. It was but
a week before that day, on which his final summons was issued, that I
received a letter from my valued and lamented friend, full of project
and futurity; warm with friendship, and seasoned with that peculiar and
pungent humour which rendered him so singularly entertaining and lively
a companion. _Sic transit gloria mundi!_ In middle age, rich, healthy,
divested of care, and happy in the society of that good young man, who
would have thought the end so near? Who could have anticipated this
sudden wreck of human hope? Such is life! And does not such a tragedy,
as it often presents, call upon the actors in the drama for serious
thoughts of what may follow? I will not say that

    “We could have better spared a better man,”

for Bentley was an excellent character, but I may truly say, that many
who fill a much larger circle than he did in the world’s estimation,
would not have left such a chasm in society. To the poor, his loss would
be irreparable, were it not that he leaves in George a representative
so worthy of him. Oh! when I reflect upon the habit which prevails so
generally at present, of taking young people abroad, educating them in
distant climes, alienating their minds from the land that gave them
birth, and forming their tastes to foreign manners; when I compare
this dismal error, and its consequences, with the scene which we are
contemplating at Mount Prospect, surely there is reason to apprehend a
fatal overthrow for our hapless country. How few George Bentleys are
ready to succeed the present generation amongst us! I have seen much
of the world in _my day_, but have latterly lived in such abstraction
from its vices and its follies, that they strike me with almost as much
wonder in their modern dress, as if I had not before been familiar with
their features. True it is, that they are to be found everywhere, and the
deepest retirement is not necessarily virtuous, _because_ it is solitary;
but the fashionable community of the present day seems to “out-Herod
Herod” in all that marks the absence of head and heart. These dear young
people are quite an affecting study. I never saw such purity in mortal
mould as breathes around them. Each seems to be provided by nature with
a _safety lamp_ that preserves them from contact with the noxious miasma
of a vicious world; and I should be repaid for much greater dereliction
from my usual habits than I submit to here, by the pleasure which I
derive from the unsophisticated singleness, instinctive modesty, and
fine feeling of my youthful associates, to whom it has fallen to my
lot to act the part of _Chaperone_. Never had _Duenna_ reason to be
prouder of a trust than I have of the charge confided to my care; and my
vanity has cause of excitement in full proportion with my pride, as the
charm of nature in the midst of an artificial society is irresistibly
refreshing, like the admittance of Heaven’s sweet breath, the pure
mountain breeze, into a heated atmosphere, loaded with the costly, but
insalubrious exhalation of a thousand perfumes. _You_ are so much a part
of the Glenalta family, through the claims of a long acquaintance and
mutual regard, that I do not feel as if I were betraying the delicacy
of my young friend Emily Douglas, in telling you of the proof which we
have just received of her total indifference to rank and fortune. Two
days ago, General Douglas was applied to _in form_ on the part of an
old Baronet in this neighbourhood, who requested permission to announce
his only son in quality of suitor to his niece, promising that nothing
should be wanting in the liberality of settlements to render the proposed
alliance agreeable to the young lady and her mother. I need scarcely
add, how unhesitatingly these advances were rejected. _You_ are too well
acquainted with the charming girl who was the object of them, to doubt
her reception of such an offer. Emily’s hand will _follow_ her heart,
_not_ precede it; and happy will he be for whom such a treasure may be
destined.

When a favourable moment occurs, and that you find dear George capable of
deriving pleasure from hearing of a tribute to his uncle’s memory, tell
him, that all the gaieties of a week, in prospect, have been suspended
at Marsden by the young people, as a mark of the sincere esteem in which
our late friend was held by the inhabitants of Glenalta. Adieu, my dear
Oliphant. All here unite in kindest remembrances with

                     Your faithful and affectionate,

                                                               ED. OTWAY.



LETTER XXXIX.

EMILY DOUGLAS TO JULIA SANDFORD.


                                                              _Brighton._

Here we are, dearest Julia, and, as I find that we are to stay here for
some days, I cannot employ myself more agreeably than in writing you
“a few more last words” ere we embark for the Continent. But I must
carry you back to Marsden, where we remained full three weeks after the
period which had been fixed upon for our departure, on account of the
fluctuations in my uncle’s health. The day after I sent you my last
letter, we received the sad news from Glenalta, which mamma conveyed
to Checkley. Till we lost dear Mr. Bentley, I had no idea how much we
all loved him; and I feel that his death has left a cruel blank in our
social circle. The intelligence of an event so painful, naturally
restrained the course of our amusement, if that deserve the name which
owes to the weakness of our fellow creatures its whole power of affording
entertainment. I am such a novice in the ways of _polite_ life, that I
have not yet learned to laugh at the people around me, without something
of self-reproach, which sends me to my pillow in an uneasy state of
mind, that “murders sleep;” and I was growing very weary of what is so
falsely, in my opinion, called pleasure, when Mr. Oliphant’s melancholy
letter occasioned a complete cessation of dinner and evening parties,
so far as _we_ were concerned. We had no spirits to join the insipid
society of the neighbourhood, when our minds were transplanted to the
awful scene at Mount Prospect. During several days we did not stir from
the demesne of Marsden, and these, if not clouded by the death of our
kind neighbour, would have been by far the happiest that I have passed
since we left _home_--talismanic word, which I never write, nor speak,
without an emotion peculiar to itself. We are greatly delighted with
your friend Alfred Stanley. What a heavenly sight is that of a young
heart devoted to its God? Mr. Stanley is, _indeed_, a clergyman, and
his life and manners explain that text of Scripture so often cavilled
at, which beautifully provides at once for the purity of the Apostle
and the utility of his example, in the injunction to come out of the
world; _yet_, while avoiding its contagion, not to mistake a local
removal, or a cold abstraction from its concerns, for that holiness which
the Great Founder of our religion urges on his followers. Mr. Stanley
is a practical illustration of the precept intended, I am convinced,
to be understood, as he enacts it.--Cheerful, elegant, informed, and
pleasing, there is no society which is not rendered more agreeable by
his presence; but there is none in which it would be possible to forget
his sacred calling. Religion seems to have its rise in the centre of
his heart, and to send forth streams into every action; yet not such as
dash and foam, and startle by their impetuosity, but the existence of
which, within the soil, is discovered from the verdure and fertility of
the surface. His opinions seem, as far as I can judge in a short time,
to be purely those of Gospel truth, equally remote from the lifeless
formalism of what is now, by a strange and melancholy distinction,
designated _Orthodoxy_; and, on the other side, those peculiar tenets
so seldom honestly avowed, but sometimes defacing the Christian scheme,
which derive their name and character from Geneva. Your friend, Alfred,
realizes my idea of a faithful messenger. His piety is evangelical,
but he is not a _Calvinist_--he is--what was I going to say? I had
just begun a sentence when Fanny came flying into my room to tell me
that the packet which sails on Monday is to waft us from the British
shores. My uncle, it appears also, has received a letter stating, that
the repairs of the parish church at Swainton, where Mr. Stanley is to
officiate, cannot be completed under three months. In consequence of this
intelligence, a warm invitation to accompany us on the Continent has
been made and accepted; so we shall take our _chaplain_ with us, and I
have no doubt that we shall find him a great acquisition to our party.
The concluding week of our sojournment at Marsden was marked by some
extraordinary events. Sir Christopher Cromie, the most pudding-headed
puffin that ever was destined to take his seat in the House of Commons,
has now the privilege of franking in such a _claw_--for hand-writing you
cannot call it--that if he should doze away, per force of segars, the
recollection of his own name, as I have been assured that a gentleman,
equally enlightened with our baronet, once did, Sir Christopher’s
autograph has this advantage over all others, that it may stand for any,
or for every thing, according to the skill employed in deciphering his
pot-hooks and hangers. He was duly returned--chaired--feasted; and gave
a foretaste of his Parliamentary eloquence at a great election “_feed_,”
as Mr. Bolton told us, in a speech which, though evidently conned over
long before it was spoken, proved such a desperate failure, that even
the newspaper editor in his pay could not tack _any_ epithet more
flattering than “_neat_” to Sir Kit’s address to his constituents. Quere,
may not this word _neat_, applied to gentlemen’s harangues, which are
neither sensible, witty, eloquent, nor impressive, be a delicate cover
for--_calf_? Well, shouts rent the air, and the sweet sounds of “Sir
Christopher for ever!” struck upon the listening organs of Mrs. Hannaper,
who was seated in a balcony of the Red Lion inn, glowing like a Chinese
poppy, and surrounded with her attendant nymphs, though certainly very
unlike Calypso herself, awaiting the happy moment of victory to buff and
blue. No sooner did the glad tidings reach the portals of her ear, than
Mrs. Hannaper, with her plumed hat in one hand, and a white handkerchief
in the other, cheered the populace. A shower of silver next bestrewed
the pavement. Tar barrels, beer barrels, and all the usual vulgarities
of _mobbish_ demonstration, had their turn, and the tables at Parham
Hall groaned under the hecatomb sacrificed that day to this new pillar
of the Constitution, this swollen, shining faced, addle pated, member
of the British Senate, duly elected to represent that _goodly_ portion
of the British empire; the ale-steeped suffrages of which gave him a
trifling majority over a sensible, worthy man, who was his opponent, and
committed its interests to the head of one who would never have made
the troublesome discovery through any appeal to his judgment, that he
had a head at all on his shoulders, if it had not been for a reference
once submitted to his fiat, to decide between the rival merits of
unadulterated Lundy Foot, and the Duke of York’s mixture. On the evening
of that auspicious day, Mrs. Hannaper, wound up to the highest height of
generous enthusiasm, took her niece aside, and just as the dancing was
about to commence, presented her with a power of attorney, duly executed
to her agents in London, and enabling them to transfer £20,000 from her
name to that of Miss Ormsby, in the New Four per Cents, saying, as she
slipped the paper into her niece’s hand, “we do not know what is before
us; this is a day of rejoicing, and you shall have your share in it. Here
I have made you independent, and you may please yourself in the choice
of a husband.” Little did the poor lady dream of what she was about,
nor guess the prompt obedience of Miss Ormsby in adopting her aunt’s
suggestion.

Mrs. Hannaper retired from the revels worn out with fatigue at twelve
o’clock; but when Sol, drawing aside the golden curtains of the east,
ventured to peep within the crimson hangings of Mrs. Hannaper’s pavilion,
Sir Christopher Cromie and the fair Ormsby were dashing away towards
London, carrying safely with them those credentials which, on their being
presented at the Bank of England, put the young lady in possession of
her fortune, and by so doing, _kicked the beam_, and sent poor Hannaper
up in her scale, which had previously been kept by the pressure of her
purse in trembling balance with its partner, in which Miss Ormsby’s
beauty weighed but unsteadily against it. Words are inadequate to paint
the surprise, rage, and disappointment which alternately struggled, and
then burst all in a _mess_ together from the lips of our heroine. After
the first explosion was over, the spirit of intrigue raised its head over
the troubled waters, and, re-asserting its wonted pre-eminence, suggested
the idea of a glorious revenge, in setting aside Sir Christopher’s
election, on the ground of bribery and corruption, most abundant proof
of which, Mrs Hannaper was able to command, her own diminished caskets
having chiefly supplied the sinews of the war, and bearing testimony to
the truth of that plea, on which it is now her object to humble the god
of her _whilom_ idolatry. If she is able to succeed, it is imagined that
she has two strings to her bow, as a corps of reserve, either to bring
forward an old East Indian, who has a fine place in her neighbourhood
for the borough of Jobton, and marry him out of spite to Sir Kit; or,
to set up a numskull nephew, who sold out of the guards some time ago,
and has been since trying to barter a fine figure for a heavy purse.
It is thought that with _M. P._ gracefully appended to his name, he
might prevail on Lady Florence Languish, to accept his hand upon a life
insurance, and certain reversionary hopes connected with Parham Hall, in
which case, Mrs. Hannaper will make him heir, and cut out her niece’s
farther expectations.

Oh, Julia, what abominations have I been describing! This narrative, as I
have given it to you, is as nearly as I can remember, in the very words
of Mr. Bolton, our merry chronicler; and _this_ was the mystery, to which
he alluded, when he hinted at _back stairs_ intelligence, but refused
to explain farther, lest we should mar poetic justice, by revealing
the plot. Alas! I have worse than this to tell you, and then my pen
shall never be dipped again in subjects such as these. It is not good
to talk, to write, to think on themes of this nature; were they simply
disgusting, they would not be dangerous; but it is not in human nature
to resist the ridiculous when Mr. Bolton is the Biographer, and such
people as I have been introducing to your acquaintance are the subjects
of a memoir compiled by him. I laughed till the tears made channels in
my cheeks. Not so, when he told us a story of another neighbour, whose
house I have _journalized_ you into visiting along with me. Only conceive
Lady Campion’s having made proposals of marriage to Lord Thornborough,
who had, after too liberal a potation of Burgundy, made _his_ to her
daughter; and preparations are actually in train for this unnatural
union, Lord T. having deserted his first love. The contemptible animal,
miscalled _nobleman_, has made his terms: Lady Campion settles a thousand
a-year upon him in perpetuity, of which she deprives her own offspring,
and receives a coronet in exchange! Thank heaven that we have left
Marsden, the air of which seems tainted by such corruption.

Before I close my letter I must refresh myself, and obey you, by looking
into Frederick’s humourous diary, and trying whether I can give you
another scrap out of it in the way of _a vignette_. I told you the
dear fellow diverted himself by scribbling in verse, when he reached
his lodgings at night, rehearsing for his diversion the principal
circumstances that had struck him ludicrously in the course of each day,
while in London. I find a ball at Lady Gosling’s mentioned in the three
following stanzas, which are a good specimen of Frederick’s merry vein:--

    There, as each dandy _sidles_ round the room,
      So like a crab, both in his claws and motion,
    Whose head is a soft sponge to hold perfume,
      Whose face a platter, shining with some lotion,
      Who is the idol of his own devotion.
    And thinks that all must hold the self same creed
      On this important point. How little notion
    Has he, of all the answers matrons need,
    Ere with his favouring fiat they can be agreed.

    “Has he got brothers?” “Yes.” “Is he the heir?”
      “No, he’s a younger son of Viscount D----,”
    “What are his prospects?” “None.” “then I declare
      I think it very wrong of Lady E.
      To have invited him.” Now, as for me,
    I never see a younger brother’s face,
      Unless the second’s, should the eldest be
    Consumptive,--clearly a _decided_ case,
    For then in fact, the second soon must take his place.

    Heavens! has she presented him to Jane!
      I will not let her dance,--a younger brother
    To waltz with Jane!--a beggar to profane
      Her hand! no, he may go and seek some other.
      I’m sure if Lady E. had been a mother,
    She had not dared such impropriety.
      Good heavens! to be the cause of such a pother;
    It will get wind:--such notoriety,
    A breach of every rule of civilized society!

I bid adieu to sarcasm here, and must not take the memory of such beings
as I leave behind me, into the vallies of Piémont. I must purify
myself by bathing in the Pelice, before I presume to penetrate farther
into those enchanting regions of nature and simplicity. What have Mrs.
Hannaper and Lady Campion in common with the glorious Alps? I wish that I
had never seen or heard of them.

This Brighton is not worth a sketch; a meagre strand, a barren flat,
dressed up indeed, and frequented as the seat of majesty. But the palace
here is no better than a _wart_, a mere excrescence without either
grace or beauty, bereft of all that constitutes grandeur, or excites an
idea of tasteful feeling _without_, and _within_ seeming like a mighty
store-house, in which all sorts of splendid things from east, west,
north, and south, are accumulated, as in a great bazaar. I wonder that
the king did not grow weary of its dull monotony long ago. My uncle, dear
soul, is much less well than he was a month ago, and I grow impatient
till we arrive at Turin, in _hope_, (oh, what a desert would this world
be but for its sweet influence), that change of climate may effect some
happy alteration. Mamma has been employing all her rhetoric in vain, to
persuade him into passing on at once to our destination, but he _will_
halt in Paris, that we may gaze upon its wonders. Once more adieu. Wish
us a fair wind and quick passage, dearest Julia, and with love to all
_you_ love, believe me, till death, your affectionate

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XL.

FREDERICK DOUGLAS TO THE REV. MR. OLIPHANT.


                                                                 _Paris._

My dear Friend,

The first fruits of my pen in a foreign land, shall be dedicated to you.
Though you have only travelled by the fire-side, there is not any thing
in the route that we are to trace which could afford you the slightest
pleasure from its novelty. The appearance of Dieppe, the country, the
posting, Rouen, the windings of the Seine, the chateaux, what is there
that I have yet seen, which is not as familiar to you in description, as
the map of Dublin? We left Brighton on Monday, and I felt as I took a
farewell view of Beachy-head, an undefined sensation, which I dare say
that thousands have felt before me, compounded of pride, pleasure, and
sorrow. To go _abroad_, though become so common, that the difficulty is
to find any one now who stays at home, has something in the very sound
of the words inspiring to one’s spirits; a vague hope of adventure, a
sort of self-applause at having commenced an enterprise; and a kind
of nameless triumph in touching a foreign shore, and finding oneself
understood when speaking a strange tongue; all these circumstances
elevate the mind to enthusiasm, while the parting pang on quitting
home, country, friends, though but for a limited season, must chequer
the gladness of any heart, in whatever breast it may reside. I wish for
your company always, but I particularly desired to have you at my elbow
when I passed St. Germain en Laye, Rosni, and Malmaison. What a crowd of
recollections rushed upon my mind, as Sully, Louis the Fourteenth, Madame
de Maintenon, James the Second, and Napoleon, pressed upon my thoughts,
and struggled for a precedence, which the different ages in which they
played their parts, arranged in an order very unlike that in which they
rose to my imagination; the wonderful Corsican contriving generally to
jostle out every reminiscence that was not connected with his astonishing
appearance upon earth.

I wanted you also at my side as we approached Paris, the _coup d’œil_
of which as you enter the Place Louis Quinze is superb. In one point of
view the eye takes in, as if in an immense panorama the entire circle of
those objects which at once exalt and degrade man, exhibit his power,
and prove his nothingness. Palaces that have stood for ages, the great
triumphal pillar which records the conquests of that preternatural chief
who frowned the world into fetters at his feet, then that spot where
the martyred Bourbons ascended the scaffold, where that angel Elizabeth
exchanged the horrors of her prison for the crown of glory that awaited
such faith, such love, such heroism as her’s! But whither is my pen
straying? What is there in Paris that you have not at your finger’s ends?
Aye, you could direct me to the very shelf in the Royal Library on which
any book is placed which you desired to consult. You could send me
north, south, east, or west, in the Jardin des Plantes for this, that,
or the other class of _Linnæus_. You could take a wand, and, pointing
to the pictures of the Louvre, give me a history of every subject which
they exhibit, and name the master who executed each. In short, the only
thing which you at this moment in the county of Kerry could not describe
much more accurately to me than I to you is precisely that which no pen
is capable of conveying, namely, the direct impression made upon the
senses by the objects themselves; and this is so exhilarating, that I
seem to myself to tread on air, and to breathe an atmosphere, like that
which Saussure found on the summit of Mont Blanc, almost threatening
delirium by its rarefaction. How striking the difference between history
and fiction in the effects produced upon the mind while we are visiting
the several theatres allotted to the drama of one or the other! All the
charms of association, the powers of memory, the magic of imagination,
are called into vivid action as we take our seat in a chair which had
held Henry the Fourth, or place ourselves at a table on which Sully
wrote; but when we look upon a Prior Park as the seat of Mr. Allworthy,
Tom Jones vanishes from the scene, and we feel almost ashamed when
fictitious personages lay claim to any region of the brain except that
which is inhabited by fancy. “Unreal mockery hence” is the sentiment
which I felt on viewing the scene of Fielding’s tale, and being desired
to mark the wood, the pond, the garden, which are supposed by the author
to have witnessed the early _squabbles_ of Bliffield and the youthful
hero. Is not this an argument for keeping truth and fiction separate?

With few exceptions, I hate historical novels, which, losing the sobriety
of fact, are equally divested of the grace which attaches to invention,
and present all the whalebone and starch of ruffs and farthingales
without being faithful to costume; thus producing a chaos in the memory,
and blending incidents and people till we can no longer trace the line
between substance and shadow.

Emily is the pupil who does you most credit; Charlotte and Fanny are
very intelligent, and see their way so well, that if _Em._ were not of
our party, the others would perhaps astonish; but old and young, we all
flock to your _Pulcheria_, as you have called her from her childhood, to
tell us whatever we want to know. Her memory is so admirable that nothing
seems _to run through_ it, and she has the whole story of every thing
that we see by heart, while, as you know, she cannot imagine herself to
be superior to any one with whom she converses.

I must tell you, that nothing could exceed the admiration which these
amiable, unartificial sisters of mine have excited in Hampshire. How
is it that people can relinquish all right and title to understanding
or good feeling, in their _own_ case, and yet retain enough of each to
admire both when they have met with them in others?

I hope that George Bentley has received all my letters, and that he
may turn in his thoughts the proposal which I made in my last, that he
should meet us at Turin. My uncle talks of remaining here not less than a
fortnight.

Stanley improves upon us every day: he is a very fine young man, and
equally a favourite with us all.

I am on the tip-toe of expectation till the post comes in, which will
decide whether Arthur and his friend Falkland can come here. It will be
delightful if they can join us; and fortunately our hotel is large enough
for us to be all together.

Huzza!--They will be in Paris to-morrow evening.--God bless you, my dear
sir.--Love to Lawrence.

                   Vale, vale,

                         Ever your affectionate,

                                                              F. DOUGLAS.



LETTER XLI.

EMILY DOUGLAS TO JULIA SANDFORD.


Dearest Julia,

Here we are, in that truly magnificent street, the Rue Royale, to which
we removed immediately after I sent off my last letter. From our hotel
we look upon such a world of _monuments_, that every object which the
windows open upon seems to beckon like a ghost, and invite one to hear
the tales which it could disclose; but you lived so near this spot when
you were in Paris, that you can place yourself in the midst of us,
and accompany your friends in every excursion.--I am bewildered! The
beauty of the buildings, the _foreign air_ of all things around me, the
confusion of tongues, the quantity to be seen and heard on the one hand;
then the anxiety which presses daily on our hearts, and mamma’s evident
apprehension that _the end_ so much dreaded is not far distant, hang a
mill-stone round my neck and chequer every enjoyment; but I have a great
deal to tell you, of one sort or other.

Here I broke off; my letter, only written thus far, has lain by during
upwards of a week. Arthur and his friend are with us; and Time flies
on golden pinions. If happiness be not made for mortals, why have we
sometimes a cup of such sparkling brilliancy presented to our lips only
to make us suffer the fate of Tantalus? I am driven to ask this murmuring
discontented question on looking around, and casting up the sum of such
treasures as I cannot bear to part with.

You know how we love Arthur, who is so improved that I should scarcely
know him; and, oh, what a being is Charles Falkland! It would seem as
if Nature, in one of her happiest moods, had sent him into our planet
just to shew what she was able to perform. I had heard of him, and read
his letters; I therefore expected something unlike the average of human
kind, but I was not prepared for such a creature as I find, who seems to
have been endowed at his birth by all the fairies, who, according to the
ancient legends, used to subscribe “a virtue each, and each a grace,”
to produce perfection! I rejoice for Frederick in such a companion; and
as for the female part of our circle, every enjoyment afforded by the
interminable delights of this surprising Paris, is rendered tenfold
attractive by the society which it is our fortune to have assembled here.

We passed two days at Versailles most agreeably, and have been at St.
Cloud. After all my resolutions to the contrary, I should find it
impossible to avoid dilating on themes so fruitful of reflection, were
my mind not too much taken up at present with thoughts that corrode and
distress, to admit of musing on more abstract subjects.

Hardly is my dear Arthur happy in a reunion with so many who are dear to
him, ere a fatal interruption occurs in a letter from Louisa Howard, and
a second from young Annesley, dated Milan. The first informs him that
my aunt is seriously ill, and so harassed by applications for money,
both on her own and her unfortunate son-in-law’s account, that the most
distressing consequences may be apprehended.

Poor Louisa writes in sad spirits, and entreats her brother to lose as
little time as possible in setting out for Selby. Mr Annesley’s letter
brings the painful tidings that Lord Crayton has had a quarrel with an
officer, to whom he had lost a large sum of money. They fought; Lord C.
killed his antagonist, and then absconded: Lady Crayton accompanied his
flight. They left Milan deeply in debt, and no one is able to trace the
fugitives. At this moment the family are in consultation respecting what
is to be done; and before I close this, you shall hear the result of the
council.

Well, our much loved Arthur, who is greatly depressed, sets out for
Calais to-morrow; and Mr. Falkland, who gives your friend Stanley a seat
in his carriage, has resolved on accompanying us. We have outstayed the
time allotted to Paris, and are to commence our journey in three or four
days.

Adieu, dearest Julia!

                            Your affectionate

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XLII.

FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.


                                                                 _Turin._

My dearest Julia,

Though it is not above a fortnight since I closed my last letter, my
life has latterly become _so full_, that days, happily as they glide
away, seem to occupy years in their passage, when I count the measure of
their duration by the variety of scene, the stimulus of movement, and the
excitement of mind, which I have to remember.

We left Paris on Thursday, and did not enter the Forest of Fontainebleau
till its majestic shades were involved in twilight. No, never while I
have life, can I forget the emotions which this scene, so noble in its
solitude--so melancholy--yet so romantic, excited in my soul! The pensive
drapery which approaching night cast over the venerable woods before
us! the magnificence of the single trees, which stood out every now and
then from the masses of mingled rock and foliage, as if to exhibit all
the pride of individuality! the fantastic shapes of hill and crag--the
silence only broken by a stream which murmured to the right of us as we
moved slowly forwards: and all this, contrasted with the din of that
noisy, vicious, and idle multitude that we had left behind, struck upon
my heart an impression which, while “memory holds her seat,” can never be
obliterated.

I could have lingered for ever in the dreary, yet beautiful Forest of
Fontainebleau, regardless of the present and future, so wrapped was I
in contemplation of the past. Henry the Great rose upon my vision, and
the horns seemed to sound in my ear, that summoned him and his brilliant
cortege to the royal sports, of which this splendid forest was the
favourite scene. The ghost of Bayard, dear to France, and adored by all
whose breasts own a sympathetic spark of those glowing fires kindled by
the spirit of chivalry, glided across my imagination; but the images of
grandeur, and the phantoms of romance, soon vanished from my mind, and
left it fixed in the concluding act of that astonishing drama, over which
the curtain dropped at Fontainebleau, when Napoleon, fallen from his high
estate, resigned the sovereignty of Europe, and sealed the death-warrant
of that power which had subdued the world, and drawn the nations captive
at his chariot wheels. Forgive me, I have broken my resolution, and am
wandering from my purpose; but I promised more than I find it possible to
perform, a lesson you will say, to my presumption. No, to pass through
such scenes as these, as if one were travelling over a turnpike-road in
the west of England, would argue something either above or below human
nature; and, as I profess to be a very mortal of earth, I feel that I may
claim your pardon for my digression. I _could_ tell you of the softest,
stillest, most heavenly moon that ever lent its silver beams to heighten
a prospect and inspire the genius of meditation. I _could_ dilate in
raptures on the landscape round Nemours; I _could_ break from every
restraining bond to expatiate on the transports with which, on arriving
at the brow of the prodigious steep which overhangs Briare, I first
beheld the Loire, rolling through a perfect Elysium: but I will hasten
onwards. _You_ shall not be detained at Moulins, though we staid there
two days. You shall not halt in the lovely Nivernois, though we broke
down, and had thence the happiness of remaining for several hours in one
of the sweetest cottages imaginable, admiring the groups of peasants at
their daily toil, so cheerful--so picturesque.

At Lyons, too, we rested; visited “Les Etroits,” though not for the
sake of that bad man, Rousseau; and thence pursued our way. That odious
Charles Emanuel, the tyrant of this region, haunted me as we passed
through Savoy. It is true that I would fain stand still with you for a
moment on Mont Cenis, and make you partake of my enthusiasm as I gazed
from the plain of St. Nicholas; but it must not be; “Hark forward!” must
be our motto. There! I have brought you safely into Turin, and you have
not yawned over a single syllable of controversy respecting the station
from which Hannibal encouraged his army by a sight of the Italian plains,
nor gone to sleep over a single calculation upon the impossibility of
traversing the Alps with a numerous host of elephants. My business is not
with the truth or falsehood of Livy’s descriptions at present, though
he was one of our travelling companions; but as I said before, you have
stepped out of your _traineau_, and are with whole bones deposited in a
large commodious dwelling in one of the finest streets of the capital of
Piémont.

Thank Heaven, my beloved mother, and her precious charge, have surmounted
the difficulties of our journey with far less of inconvenience than
I could have anticipated. My uncle suffers no pain, but his languor
increases with increasing weakness. The wonderful blessings of the
Almighty warm my heart to unspeakable gratitude; and when I consider
the chain of circumstances attending on the return of this once dreaded
relation to his own country, I cannot call them less than providential.
I told you not long ago, how happy he is in the removal of those doubts
which harassed his mind; and no sooner have Mr. Otway and mamma finished
this work, and arrived at a “consummation so devoutly to have been wished
for,” than the saint-like voice and countenance of Alfred Stanley “take
up the wondrous tale,” and truth that comes “mended from his tongue,”
by the holy sincerity in which it is uttered, pours oil and honey over
the wounds so newly cicatrized, and, with a sacred unction, prepares
our dear invalid for his celestial rest. Of Falkland, like the Alps,
I must not speak, lest I should say too much. His society is the best
consolation which could be offered in the bereavement of Arthur, and we
literally _devour_ this magic scenery together, with our eyes and hearts.
The beauties of nature are not like those of art, addressed only to the
outward sense. They captivate the affections, and I always find that
they point my mind to Heaven, there to glorify that creative wisdom and
beneficence, which saw it good thus to adorn the earth. We are engaged
in planning various schemes for seeing the surrounding country, and
only wait to hear from Arthur, and learn whether we have a chance of his
returning, and accompanying us in the excursion, to make arrangements
for our darling project of visiting the vallies of the Waldenses. Adieu,
dearest Julia,

                            Your ever after,

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XLIII.

ARTHUR HOWARD TO FREDERICK DOUGLAS.


                                                                 _Selby._

My dear Frederick,

Alas! I cannot rejoin your party for the present. I reached this place
with as little delay as winds, waves, and mail coaches permitted, and
found my poor mother so frightfully altered, that I should scarcely
recognize her at the distance of a few paces. I was not aware, till I
arrived at home that she had had a paralytic stroke, which she cannot
endure to have known, and Louisa would not risk the communication by
letter, lest I might, inadvertently, betray a knowledge of the fact on
meeting her. Of this there is no danger in telling it to _you_, and in
doing so, I explain at once how impossible it is for me to quit England
while matters remain in their present precarious condition. You will
rejoice to hear that domestic misfortunes have had the happiest effect
on my sister’s mind. She is wonderfully changed, and her whole attention
is devoted to the melancholy duty of watching our invalid, whose illness
appeared immediately after a sudden and unlooked for demand of £2,000
on the miserable Crayton’s account, accompanied by an earnest request
from Adelaide that her mother would honour the bill, or, at least,
give security for its payment at a future day. This was impossible,
for my poor mother was overwhelmed by debts of her own. The grief and
mortification which are now her portion are not rendered more tolerable
by the accompanying reflection that she brought them on herself; and
it is the cruel nature of her complaint to aggravate every vexation by
the dreadful irritability which is one of its constant symptoms, as I
am informed by Doctor Leach, who is in daily attendance at Selby. Need
I say that almost every hour is occupied in endeavouring to soothe our
poor patient, and relieve Louisa’s care? _You_ know nothing of the
hopeless task which we have daily to encounter. The life that is led
by fashion’s votaries, ill prepares the mind I see for finding refuge
in the only consolations which a sick room supplies. How often am I
irresistibly led to a comparison of my uncle’s couch with that on which
my poor mother’s faded form reclines! We can impart no comfort. We fail
of amusing, as of consoling her. Neither book nor conversation delights,
the affrighted spirit turns in anguish from viewing the grave as it gapes
beneath, and dares not seek for refuge in Him who is neglected while the
blood circulates freely in the veins, and the wheel rolls on, as if it
were never to meet obstruction. I never pondered on these things till I
lived at Glenalta, and I am now endeavouring to impress them on Louisa.
Cards are my poor mother’s only resource, and my sister, Turner, and I,
are in constant requisition. We play whist to amuse her, and suffer her
to win every game. Perhaps by keeping her mind as calm and unruffled
as possible, I may prevail with her to see Mr. Arundel, an excellent
clergyman in our neighbourhood, who has often proffered his service,
but whose visits she has hitherto declined. The Doctor gives me no hope
of her recovery, though he thinks that she may endure repeated attacks
before her strength sinks entirely under them. Some of the good people
of our country are loud, I am told in their abuse of my sister, and me,
for permitting a card inside my mother’s apartment. We ought, they say,
to _insist_ on her seeing Mr. Arundel, and oblige her to listen to pious
reading. Alas! what mischief may be wrought even by the best intentions,
when zeal is so wholly unaccompanied by discretion! Should we hope to
render a temper fitter for Heaven by exciting its utmost animosity, or
secure a reception in the heart for doctrines _forced_ upon the ear? So
certain am I of the contrary, that I will take the whole responsibility
on myself, and trust that the motive which impels me to brave the
opinion of several who are older than I am, may insure forgiveness, if
I am wrong. Ask Stanley for his advice, and tell Falkland to write to
me. You must remember the life that Louisa and I are leading, and have
pity on us. Let me hear often from you, and tell my dear Emily, and
Charlotte, that I think a few words of cousinly kindness would produce a
happy effect upon my poor sister’s mind; she would find too, perhaps, an
interesting recreation in corresponding with them. It is a distressing
circumstance to me, that I know not where to address Adelaide, nor does
she know where to find me. Of her situation I must remain ignorant, till
Annesley can trace the route by which she and her unfortunate husband
have evaded pursuit. My dear uncle’s noble gift shall be forwarded to
Milan for the payment of debts, and we must, if practicable, purchase off
the prosecution for Castelli’s death. You will assist me, I am sure, in
every possible way. God bless you, dearest Frederick. Loves to all.

                    Your affectionate, but harassed,

                                                               A. HOWARD.



LETTER XLIV.

FREDERICK DOUGLAS TO ARTHUR HOWARD.


                                                                 _Turin._

My dear Arthur,

An entire month has passed since the date of my last letter to you; and
I have now to recount an adventure which has deeply interested me, and
will, I have no doubt, produce as much excitement in your mind as it has
done in my own. When we had been at Turin about ten days, Mr. Otway,
Emily, and I, returned late one evening from a _scramble_ amongst the
rocky scenery by which we are surrounded, and found George Bentley seated
with the rest of the party. You may imagine that the meeting affected us
all. Poor fellow, he is a sincere mourner for his uncle’s loss, and is
grown more serious than I ever saw him; but he is one whom I shall always
love, and we all felt at sight of him as if Glenalta had come over to
pay us a visit. After George had rested for a day or two we made our
final arrangements, which had been pending for some time previous to his
arrival, for the projected excursion into the vallies. It was ruled in
congress that we juniors should not all desert the home party together;
and as it was considered likely that at a future day when you rejoin us,
another _sortie_ may be determined upon; Stanley volunteered in remaining
with my uncle, while Fanny begged to be left as guardian of my mother.

To begin then, methodically, you may fancy the travelling party
consisting of Mr. Otway, Falkland, George Bentley, Emily, Charlotte, and
myself, in full march, on the fifteenth ultimo, issuing from the Posta
Nuova, and taking the high road to Pinerolo. The Po rolled impetuously on
its course, and brought to my mind those lines of Virgil, which describe
its rushing flood, when swelled by the tributary waters of spring:--

    “Proluit insano contorquens vortice Sylvas,
    Fluviorum rex Eridanus camposque per omnes,
    Cum stabulis armenta tulit;”

appeared as just a character as could be given of this classic river,
as we passed along for some miles in view of its winding course. The
beautiful plains of the Cottian Alps were left behind us, when we quitted
Pinerolo, and we soon opened on the rugged scenery which surrounds
Pomaretto, which we entered on foot, so difficult was its approach. The
valley of Perosa had much to interest us. We passed through that of
Pragella, and wondered at the dreariness of the prospect.

    “Man wants but little here below,
    Nor wants that little long,”

burst simultaneously from the lips of Emily and Falkland, as we gazed on
the barren district before us.

For the particulars of four delightful days spent in traversing the
vallies of St. Martino, Clusone, and Luzerna, I shall refer you to our
journals, which faithfully describe, and circumstantially narrate all
that we saw and heard during our progress. I must hasten on to “metal
more attractive” still, in the exquisite loveliness of San Giovanni. At
La Torre we were arrested, as if by a spell of magical enchantment. There
we halted during two days: visited the monument of Christina, sister of
Elizabeth Smith, talked over Victor Amadeus with detestation, of the
noble Henri Arnaud with enthusiasm, and were so lost in admiration of
the Alpine beauties, and simple manners by which we were so hemmed in on
every side, that after a week’s sojournment in this fascinating vale, we
should all have been likely to forget the whole of what is called the
civilized world, if certain thoughts of Turin, Selby, and Glenalta, had
not been interwoven with the raptures to which we resigned ourselves.
From La Torre, however, we _tore_ ourselves (I am not so unworthy as to
_commit_ a _pun_ amidst the mountains of Switzerland), and proceeded to
Angrogna. Here we _called a halt_, and the result of our deliberations
was, that the two girls being intent on achieving, if practicable, the
difficult ascent of La Vachera, and visiting the famous Pre du Tour,
it was judged expedient that they should remain quietly housed in the
village of Angrogna, while some of the party, in quality of scouts, were
to reconnoitre, and returning to the rendezvous, declare how far it might
be possible for the ladies to realize their daring resolution.

The post of danger is the post of honour, and it might therefore be
supposed that the gentlemen of our detachment were all ambitious of
being heroes, and immortalizing their names amongst the brave of other
days, who had vanquished or fallen near this impregnable fortress of
nature’s workmanship; but no such thing, Mr. Otway honestly avowed that
his love of adventure was cooled in the stream of time, and that, with
the perils of the expedition he would surrender all title to a share in
its glories. This was fair and reasonable, suitable to his years, and
according with his generosity. But what will you say of Master Falkland,
when I tell you that his youthful blood boiled not with either martial or
romantic ardour? Protesting against the ungallant proceeding of leaving
two damsels in the care of _one_ knight, he sent forward Bentley and
your humble servant to meet all the hazard of the undertaking. In short,
George and I were decreed to be “_les enfans perdus_,” while Falkland,
not contented with the privileges of exemption from our toils, laid claim
to the rewards of chivalry, and sought in Emily’s approving smile a full
ratification of his cowardly choice. _Yes_, Charles, if I mistake not, is
no longer _compos mentis_; and if so, we must not be too hard upon him. I
set out with George upon the most interesting perambulation I ever made
in my life. We took a guide, and, followed by a peasant boy, struck out
of the beaten track, and wandered for several hours through the Valleys
of the Waldenses, amid pathless defiles of rock and glen, which presented
such matchless variety, such astonishing contrast of the beautiful and
sublime, as I should in vain attempt to pourtray with any hope of doing
justice to the scenery.

On our return we gave a glowing picture of the romantic beauties which
crowned our exertions, and engaged to pilot my sisters and their beaux
into the defiles of the adjacent mountains on the following day, which
we performed admirably, Emily and Charlotte bringing such freshness
of Kerry practice to the task, that they struck our guides with the
deepest astonishment. We made acquaintance in our way with several
peasants, who charmed us by the ease and simplicity of their manners.
All the adventitious distinctions which by introducing inequality, bring
also in its train condescension on the one hand, meanness, servility,
awkwardness, and presumption on the other, are unknown in the Valleys
of Piémont. Here man is reduced to his _elemental_ character: stars and
garters, which glitter in the murky atmosphere of courts, and there
assume the “_Lux lucet in tenebris_,” hide their diminished heads,
and dare not radiate their sickly lustre in presence of that glorious
luminary which seems to disport with peculiar rapture in this region of
eternal snows, and to play off all the magic versatility of his powers,
amid these giant prisms that reflect, and refract his beams in every
possible variety of form and colour. Were I _in love_, I should grow
like one of the _lichens_ to these rocks, but as I am enabled to sing

    “My heart’s my own,--my will is free.”

I prefer returning to the full tide of life, and coming from time to time
to enjoy these fastnesses of nature with all the stimulus of contrast,
added to their intrinsic sublimity. Emily wept as we left the banks of
the Pelice on our return to Turin. Though longing to be with those who
were left behind, and carrying with her the society which had lent its
charms to the desert, her tears flowed as an irresistible tribute to
scenes so congenial to her heart. Charlotte used to be always considered
by us to live more in a world of _sentiment_ than her elder sister, yet
her eyes were not suffused; and though her pencil and her voice have
borne away unnumbered memoranda from the mountains, she repassed the
Porta Nuova with such transport, that I could scarcely keep her in the
carriage and prevent her from running a race with the animals that were
doing their best to reunite us with the group which we felt impatient to
embrace.

Alas, my dear uncle has been very ill during our absence, and is much
changed within these few days of our separation from him. We found my
beloved mother looking pale from want of sleep, but rejoicing in the
blessing of beholding the triumph of Faith and Hope, in the approaching
scene which we cannot flatter ourselves is not in immediate prospect.
Stanley, she says, is a celestial messenger.

Your next accounts of my poor aunt, will, I hope, be more favourable.
Stanley entirely approves of your conciliating her affections by all
the means in your power; and has no doubt that they are the very best
handmaids to religion. He bids me say that you must not be discouraged
if you cannot prevail at _first_. Be patient, and even five minutes
seriously employed, when the heart is sincere, will not be _lost_.

A few bits of coloured paper have nothing in their manufacture more
inimical to the great cause, than any other trifles which serve to
alienate the mind from its most important concerns. This is Stanley’s
opinion. Adieu, _mon ami_,

                        Ever your faithful friend

                                                              F. DOUGLAS.



LETTER XLV.

EMILY DOUGLAS TO JULIA SANDFORD.


                                                                 _Turin._

Oh, my dearest Julia, in what words shall I describe the horror and
consternation in which we have been thrown by the awful event mentioned
to your aunt in Alfred Stanley’s last letter? A week has passed since the
dreadful catastrophe, and I have not slept since, so great is the shock
that it produced. The particulars are as I will now endeavour to detail
them.

On the evening of this day se’nnight we were returning, a numerous
party, from a walk in the direction of Rivoli, when passing by a large
house removed at a little distance from the outskirts of this town, and
separated from the road by a thick plantation, we were violently startled
by the noise of a pistol-shot, followed by a shriek so piercing, that I
shall never cease to remember its shrillness. Mr. Otway, Fanny, Charles
Falkland, and I, were foremost, and reached the spot whence these
affrighting sounds proceeded before the rest came up; and scarcely had
we arrived opposite the door, ere a frantic figure rushed from it, and
fell down at our feet! Charles and Mr. Otway raised her from the earth,
but she was pale as death, and quite insensible. I ran eagerly to a
stream which was just by, and filling the crown of my straw hat with
water, was hastening back, when I perceived that she was supported by a
young and beautiful woman in deep mourning, who was recognized at the
first glance by Fanny to be the Madame de Lisle, of whom I told you in a
former letter. The object of our anxiety remained motionless, while the
gentlemen, who were now joined by Alfred, George, and Frederick, flew
into the house, where all was confusion: servants running to and fro;
some of whom were employed in placing the body of a young man, who had
just blown his brains out, on a bed. It was growing dark, and the shade
of the trees rendered it impossible to see any thing clearly; but on
Frederick’s return from the house, where some of the people had told him
that the lady who had fainted was wife to Monsieur le Marchand, who was
a _negociant_ from Bourdeaux, and had destroyed himself in consequence,
they supposed of bad news contained in a letter which he had received
on that day, he pressed forward to take her in his arms for the purpose
of laying her on a mattrass which he had had brought out; and no sooner
did the light fall directly on her corpse-like features, than Frederick
exclaimed, “Good God! Adelaide Crayton! She is the very image of her
portrait in Grosvenor Square!” The agitation produced by this discovery
is more easily imagined than described. Adelaide, for she was indeed our
unfortunate cousin, was removed; and as she was raised up a locket fell
upon the ground, which contained hair, with a coronet and the letter
C. in diamonds. This ornament confirmed my brother’s belief; but she
was silent, her pulse appeared to cease, and the livid paleness of her
countenance, gave reason to imagine that her spirit would not revive.
Oh! who amongst us had heart to wish that her eyes should open again
on such a scene? Yet open they did, at last, but it was only to utter
another shriek, and look wildly round for an instant, after which, half
uttering the name of La Tour, she relapsed into the same inanimate state
from which she had but just awakened. We had sent for a surgeon, who was
now conducted to the mattrass on which Adelaide lay by a young woman,
who, on being questioned, I found was La Tour, and _femme de chambre_ to
my poor cousin. In reply to my inquiries, she told me, with very little
feeling, that Le Marchand was a feigned name, that Lord Crayton, after
killing Signior Castelli, was obliged to fly; that his extravagance knew
no bounds, and that he played enormously high; that an hour before the
fatal act of suicide he saw a person pass the windows of the room in
which he sat, whom he recognized as a Milan man to whom he owed a large
sum of money; and irritated by finding that he was no longer concealed,
he resolved on the desperate deed which was hardly resolved on ere it
was perpetrated. His pistols were charged, and in the presence of his
wife he put one of them to his mouth, and was dead in an instant! I said
something expressive of pity for the survivor, and was not a little
shocked by La Tour’s reply, “Ma’amselle, ne vous mettez pas en peine,
madame se consolera bientôt.”

I turned from this woman with abhorrence, just as Mr. Otway, who had
been employed in examining the servants, came back to the place where
we were surrounding Adelaide, and trying every method for her recovery.
Madame de Lisle was kneeling at my side, and engaged in rubbing one of
poor Adelaide’s hands, when Mr. Otway changed colour as his eyes met
her’s. He seemed on the point of speaking, but repressed whatever he
was going to say; and I concluded that he had mistaken her for one of
us in the confusion of the moment. At length the surgeon succeeded in
recalling poor Lady Crayton’s senses, and she was carried to her bed,
where Frederick and I resolved to watch by her during the night. George
Bentley and Charles Falkland insisted on remaining below stairs, and Mr.
Otway took charge of Charlotte and Fanny, whom he hurried home to apprize
mamma of the events of the evening. They found her so far prepared for
the dreadful intelligence, that she knew through Mr. Stanley, whom we
begged to hasten to our hotel, that a gentleman had shot himself, in
consequence of which we were delayed, but she had yet to learn the
melancholy particulars of the catastrophe, and that we were endeavouring
to be of use to our near relations.

Madame de Lisle was like a sister, she and her maid remained with us
all night; and there was nothing that sympathy and tenderness could
dictate which this lovely young woman did not offer to us in the way
of assistance. Mamma thought my uncle too ill to listen to an account
of what had happened, and till the morning she did not come to me, as
she judged it better that Adelaide should continue in perfect quiet. A
sleeping-dose had been administered, and she lay in a sort of stupor,
interrupted from time to time by words uttered in delirium: “Where are
my jewels?” “Did you see Castelle?” “When will Arthur come?” were the
only sentences that Frederick and I could hear distinctly, though she’
talked a great deal, and apparently with anger at intervals. It was
determined upon to remove her as quickly as possible from the theatre
of such horror, and accordingly apartments were immediately prepared
in a house adjoining that in which we live. The body was disposed of,
and every arrangement that we could devise carried into effect with the
utmost celerity to change the scene for Adelaide.

When I look back upon the last week, the whole appears like a terrific
dream! For an hour together I never lose sight of that corse, weltering
in its blood; nor cease to think of that spirit, hurried into the
presence of its God! The subject is too awful, and the mind will not
dwell upon it. I sometimes feel as if I should lose my senses. Adelaide
seems quite unconscious of all that has happened, and never mentions her
husband. The physician assures us, that she is not in danger unless the
fever increase.

After the lapse of many days I find my letter only half written; but
anxiety thickens upon us, and my Julia will excuse me. My poor aunt
Howard’s situation is so precarious, that we know not what a day may
bring forth. My dear uncle declines, alas, too visibly to leave a
doubt that the dreaded moment is at hand! and though Lady Crayton is
recovering rapidly, she is, to my eye, a more melancholy object than
even death itself. La Tour’s words vibrate on my senses: they are a true
picture; “_elle se consolera bientôt!_” Yes; _elle se console_, and with
so little reference to _decency_, that though at the arrival of every
English mail we expect the _last_ accounts of her mother’s existence,
and her husband’s bleeding image seems to dwell amongst us, _she_ is
able to talk of indifferent matters, and her only solicitude literally
appears at present to display itself only in contrivances for rendering
her weeds becoming. She wishes for Arthur, _not_ that she may enjoy a
brother’s sympathy, but to know the utmost that can be done to make
her independent. On hearing from mamma that a considerable sum had been
remitted for the payment of Lord Crayton’s debts in Milan, conceive her
proposing that Arthur should be written to directly, to desire that he
might reserve this money for her use, and leave her husband’s debts
unpaid! Oh, Julia, poor Adelaide was not worse than others by nature; and
is this the end of a fashionable education?

I am sick at heart, and turn from the contemplation of my cousin’s future
career to rest on the pleasing thought of Madame de Lisle, with whom
we are delighted. Though evidently bent on seclusion, and desirous of
avoiding even a limited society, she would not refuse _us_ the pleasure
of calling upon her; and, from her first interview with mamma, she has
not required that we should again solicit her acquaintance. I never saw
such sympathy between two beings so far separated by different age and
country.

I told you that I had remarked a change in Mr. Otway’s colour when he
first saw this deeply interesting young woman. Since that time he has
been minutely inquiring about the handkerchief which Fanny picked up,
and is fully confirmed by the letters marked upon it in the belief that
he has known her family in former days, and seen her when a child; but
some circumstances, which I am unable to fathom, deter him from putting
any question to her that might determine the point. Perhaps she married
without the consent of her friends; yet she seems so good that it would
take much evidence to convince me that she had ever made her parents
unhappy. Again, were she not so perfectly elegant, so modest and refined
in her ways of thinking, it might be supposed that she had conformed to
the vulgar views of high life, by marrying some mere man of fashion, in
whom she had been disappointed, and by whom, perhaps, she may have been
left to mourn over conduct, at the remembrance of which she blushes; but
Madame de Lisle _cannot_ be a hypocrite, and if not her husband must have
been worthy of her. No ignoble motive could have induced this sweet and
lovely creature to bestow her hand without her heart. Whatever be the
reason, she desires concealment, and we alone, I believe, constitute her
attraction to Turin. If Mr. Otway be right in his conjecture, she is the
daughter of an English nobleman; but he will not tell us more till he
brings the matter to a certainty.

I am this moment informed, that a letter is just received by Frederick
from Arthur, announcing his mother’s death. Excellent young man! he
rejoices in the idea of having been with her, and enabled, to the last
moment, to minister to her comfort. He speaks of her tranquil exit with
feelings of the deepest gratitude to heaven; and mentions, that she had
from time to time derived the greatest relief from unburthening her heart
to an admirable clergyman, who visited her frequently in the latter days
of her life.

The letters which informed the family at Selby of all that had taken
place here, had not reached England when Arthur wrote. It is his
intention to come here as soon as possible, accompanied by my cousin
Louisa.

You shall hear regularly from me of all that passes.

Loves _from_, _to_ all.

                  Ever my dearest Julia’s affectionate,

                                                           EMILY DOUGLAS.



LETTER XLVI.

FROM ARTHUR HOWARD TO THE READER.


My dear Reader,

If you have travelled thus far with me, you and I are kind friends; and
I am, in duty bound, to do my best for your gratification. I told you,
long ago, my motives for raking and rummaging through sundry trunks
where papers were deposited, for the letters which I have picked out
of an immense heap, and strung together--_shall I venture_ to say for
your amusement? That I was fired with the hope of affording you some
entertainment is certain; but people often fail when they are most
anxious to succeed; and the size of my manuscript begins to frighten me.

On returning to Glenalta, in the peaceful shades of which the idea first
occurred to me of addressing you, I found, as you may imagine, much
difficulty in collecting my materials, and making choice from amongst
them, to say nothing of arranging and transcribing; but this trouble,
and much more, I would willingly take for any one who has liked me
sufficiently to accompany my steps during a period of nearly four years.
If I resolve, then, on tying up the numerous packets which still lie
piled on the table before me; and returning them to their several caskets
to be forwarded to their rightful owners, it is not that I am tired
of working for you, but I am afraid of fatiguing you, and losing your
society, which has hitherto afforded me so much pleasure, that I would
not for any consideration lose my hold on your regard, which our good
fellowship during so long a journey may lead me to hope that I possess.

Actuated by these friendly feelings, it occurs to me that I will tell you
the rest of the story myself, not, believe me, from the vain-glorious
motive of desiring to push myself into an undue degree of notice, nor
of securing that which attaches to the _last_ speaker, but for the
following reasons: First, my dear good friend, we are all alive and
merry, I mean we who have written all the mounds of paper through
which you have waded so patiently; and _therefore_ you cannot expect
a regular _end_ of what is still _going on_; nor can I keep my book
open any longer, lest you might suppose it _endless_, and throw it
aside. Secondly, some of our party came to be involved in writing of
another kind, and in the necessity of encountering law business, with
which I could not think of wearying you, and thus had less time for the
employment of their pens upon more interesting subjects. Again, other
individuals of our society became gradually so devoted to each other’s
conversation, that with grief of heart I saw myself in danger of losing
the best contributors to my scheme. And you know if people will not
separate for the accommodation of a compiler, adieu to letter-writing. In
short, I grew very uneasy and after suffering those pangs which authors
only understand, I determined on throwing up my correspondence, taking
the matter at once into my own hands, and relieving your curiosity
respecting people and things which I have been the means of introducing
to your acquaintance.

You are able, no doubt, to anticipate a great deal, but that is no
reason why I should not tell you all I know. And first you shall have
such information as I can give you respecting Madame de Lisle, who has
been rather abruptly introduced to your acquaintance in a letter from
Emily Douglas. The letter to which Miss Douglas refers, for the history
of Madame de Lisle, has been unfortunately lost; and you must therefore
be contented with such particulars as I have collected since I had the
pleasure of an introduction to her acquaintance. Mr. Otway one day saw
her so violently agitated by Stanley’s occasional mention of a person who
is a friend of his, and whose name is Alured, that he resolved at once on
removing his doubts relating to her parentage. Alured was a family name
in the pedigree to which he believed her to belong, and he was right.
He went alone to visit her, and soon discovered that she was indeed
Lady Laura Penshurst, the only surviving daughter of the proud and
pompous Earl of Alton, whose sister he had loved in early life, before
the “thick coming” honours of her house had tacked a title to her name.
This disclosure once made, Lady Laura took Mr. Otway at once into her
confidence, and told him that her mother, whose memory she adores, died
a few months ago in the south of France, having survived Lord Alton, to
whom no mortal could be attached, but three years. Her brother succeeded
to the title and estates, and enjoyed them but a very short time, when
he too was swept off the mortal stage, and they descended to an infant
who is the present Lord Alton. Disgusted with the world in which she
no longer possessed an object of affection, Lady Laura determined on
remaining abroad, assuming a name and style which should protect her from
curiosity, and ending her days where her mother’s remains were deposited.

Of our good friend, George Bentley, I have news which will probably
surprise you not a little. He often talked, during our rambles in
Switzerland, of taking up his abode in the midst of the romantic scenery
which had excited our admiration. His declarations were received as
the mere effusions of the moment, and we never believed him in earnest
until he seriously declared his determination to carry his project into
effect, and took decisive measures for the purpose. He went to Ireland,
made arrangements of his property, by which he provided for three or
four relations, who are all of his family that remain; settled an annual
bounty on the parish poor, annuities on the old retainers, left Mount
Prospect to be let by Mr. Oliphant, returned to Piémont, and was, ere
long, established in a cottage near Angrogna.

General Douglas, his sister, and Mr. Otway, exerted all their skill in
rhetoric to dissuade George from deserting his native country. They
represented most forcibly that inversion of mind by which people,
neglecting the good that lies within their grasp, bend all their
energies to distant objects. They endeavoured to convince him that so
much remained to be done at home, that it was criminal to quit the post
in which heaven had placed him, and yielding to a spirit of adventure,
instead of being governed by the sober desire of usefulness, prefer the
notoriety of this romantic scheme, to the less shewy, but more valuable
purpose of being a kind landlord, and a resident gentleman in his native
land.

Bentley’s principal fault is obstinacy, which he sometimes mistakes
for firmness. He had _determined_, and was ready with more fluency of
words, than depth of argument, to answer the reasoning of his friends.
“He thought that a _call_ should not be resisted. He considered the
remarkable chain of events which had brought him into the Vallies of
Piémont, as a providential appointment, a cord that drew him invisibly
forward to his true destiny.” In vain was it urged in reply, that _such_
arguments would legitimatize every absurd dereliction of duty, every wild
vagary of adventure; and were fantasies like these permitted to carry
conviction to the understanding, a country might be drained of all its
inhabitants who were capable of exerting beneficial influence within its
circuit, and the population be committed to anarchy and want.

Bentley remained fixed as a rock, and perhaps, secretly gloried in the
double character of martyr and missionary, since he now encountered what
he technically denominated “_persecution_.” To the Vallies he _would_
go, and perhaps the _real_ motive may never be fully revealed to his
own mind, though we lookers on could not help perceiving very clearly,
that the devoted and mutual attachment of Falkland and Emily Douglas,
had been the _true_ pivot on which his purposes turned. Love, in its
common acceptation, never found a place in Bentley’s breast. He never
knew what it was to be impelled either by ungovernable passion, which
hurries some to ruin and abasement; nor was his heart formed to those
all-powerful, but delicate sympathies, which though fine as threads of
gossamer, yet irresistibly entangle the affections, and produce entire
dependence for happiness on the reciprocal devotion of a beloved object.
No, Bentley had seen that men and women usually marry. He had therefore
contemplated marriage for himself. He saw children in most families, and
without loving them, he supposed that he should one day be a father, as
well as husband; but the utmost which his mind had ever accomplished
in reducing these wide abstractions and “loose generalities,” to any
practical bearing on his individual lot, was summed up in the following
hypothesis. “If I should ever think of engaging myself to any woman, and
resigning my present freedom, become a married man, I must endeavour to
select a suitable companion; money is a sordid motive, though it is a
necessary adjunct; beauty is a fading flower, yet the eye is fascinated
by its charms; intellect is inspiring, but it often leads to vanity;
religion is essential, but how do we know it to be sincere. If I _were_
to think of marrying, I wish that it might be to Emily Douglas; but would
she marry me?” These _ifs_ and _ands_, had been so often laid before the
imagination of George Bentley, that they became as habitual as breakfast,
dinner, and sleep, probably occupying at stated intervals that period
of _coma_, which intervenes between a full meal and a sound slumber,
till by daily recurrence of Emily’s image, he had marked her insensibly
for his own, and that too, without the slightest degree of personal
presumption either respecting his powers of pleasing, or her feelings
towards him. When, therefore, his eyes were first opened to the truth
that Emily loved, and was beloved by another, he woke, as from a dream.
He was astounded, puzzled. He felt unsettled, set adrift, or, perhaps
like an owl when it is suddenly brought into the sun’s light from the
tranquil shade of its ivied tower. At last, however, his mental optics
accommodated themselves to a new focus. He was no longer confused, and
his eyes were no longer dim. He then began to examine himself, and was
obliged to make the inward confession, that no one had injured him. He
was not in love. He had never given any one reason to suppose that he
felt more than friendship, and all the Douglas family treated him with
unvarying kindness and affection which had never passed that sober limit;
but things are not so easily settled with pride.

Bentley’s had in reality nothing to do in the matter, for _his_ had not
received offence, yet by some extraordinary fancy, he _did_ appear to
take umbrage at the attachment, which was evident; and he did so perhaps,
because he did not at first perceive it, and at the critical time of its
becoming manifest to his senses, the expedition to the Vallies, opened a
new vista to his mind, and gave an unexpected bias to his resolutions.

Frederick and I were hammering at something not far removed from this
statement, when Mr. Otway came into the room, and in five minutes drew up
the case as I have recorded it.

As time rolled on, the delightful mother of Emily Douglas, was called
upon to approve a union which cannot fail of happiness. Emily and Charles
Falkland are formed for each other. Virtue and talents lend all their
influence to lay a solid foundation, while the lighter graces which
belong to manners and accomplishments, give a finish to the charm that
binds them to each other. Simplicity is a decided characteristic of
both; and when the day arrived which General Douglas begged to hasten, in
order that he might bestow a blessing with ten thousand pounds, which he
presented to his niece there was no idle parade of dress and equipage.
Not a single preparation which had display for its object, or vanity
for its motive, marked this nuptial scene. It was the only marriage,
except her sister’s, at which Louisa Howard had ever assisted, and what
a contrast did it not present to the gorgeous folly of poor Adelaide’s
hymeneals? A short tour to Geneva, Lausanne and Vevay, separated the
Falklands but a little time from Turin, to which place they returned, and
the dying couch of a beloved uncle was attended with all the tenderness
which true affection can alone inspire. He lingered till winter had
clothed the Alps in a fresh mantle of snow, and breathed his last in the
arms of Frederick. Some months of repose were necessary to the shattered
health of Mrs. Douglas, and she preferred remaining in Switzerland till
the following spring, when the whole party arrived in safety at Marsden.

Though Emily’s marriage afforded a pretext for selling off the English
property according to the _letter_ of General Douglas’ will, his sister
considered that to delay its sale was more in agreement with the _spirit_
of his intentions, and she had consequently no hesitation in determining
that Frederick should try the experiment of remaining in Hampshire for
some time, while her son, implicitly relying on the counsels of his
mother, acquiesced with alacrity in whatever she thought right. Marsden
became the abode of whatever most exalts human nature, and the Douglas
family possess the art of rendering virtue and knowledge attractive in
such a degree, that their anxiety is to avoid, not to court acquaintance
with the great. Their society is universally sought after, and none can
exceed it.

Emily and her husband, as the _avant couriers_ of Mrs. Douglas,
accompanied Mr. Otway to Ireland, and have purchased Mount Prospect, to
which they have given its ancient Irish appellation of Cairndruid, and
which they are altering and beautifying, for their future home, when the
family of Glenalta shall return to their dearly-loved abode.

Mr. Oliphant, who is a perfect pattern of what every clergyman ought to
be, and aided in his pious labours by an excellent sister, lives but to
do good and make his parishioners happy. When he saw the circle of those
friends, so justly valued, once more in their accustomed places, his
glistening eye and uplifted hands seemed to say with old Simeon, “Let thy
servant now depart in peace.”

The Sandfords, Stanleys, Mrs. Fitzroy, and various other agreeable people
have had happy meetings at Marsden; and I will venture a prophecy, that
Frederick, who longs to regain his native shores, will one day prevail
upon the elegant Julia Sandford to bear him company thither. If strongly
tempted, too, to lay a wager, though I do not consider _bets_ to be the
most convincing arguments, I might be persuaded to risk a few pounds
upon the probability of two other matches, viz. one between Charlotte
Douglas and Algernon Stanhope, and the other between an elder brother of
Stanley’s and Louisa Howard. As to my own loves, if I have any, my dear
Reader, you cannot expect me to divulge them: “Sink or swim, I carry my
secrets with me,” which was the sagacious resolve of Mrs. Faulkner, wife
to the celebrated George, of editorial memory, who asked her, on her
death-bed, whether or not she had been a faithful _sposa_.

You will be glad to hear that Lawrence cleans the gravel walks still at
Glenalta, and is never weary of recounting stories to his young mistress
when she walks in the shrubbery, of all that had happened in her absence,
Lisfarne looks glad once more, and the Beacon Hill is burned to brown
from all the fires that have spread their glow over the beautiful bay
which it overlooks.

Aunt Douglas shall close my narrative: she is the centre round which
all these numerous rays converge, and the nearer they advance to her,
the more nearly do they approach each other. How can human beings unite
sincerely in loving the same object, and be at enmity amongst themselves?
It is impossible. A year’s probation has so assured this self-denying
mother that Marsden can never rival Glenalta in the hearts of her
children, that a treaty is now on foot for disposing of a place which
possesses no associations with past time to endear it to their memory.
Frederick remains to complete the contract, and has hopes of bringing
old Mr. Bolton with him to pay a visit in the Emerald Isle, which he has
never seen, while it has fallen to my happy lot to attend the homeward
bound group, Louisa making one of the party, and behold such joy as
language fails me to describe. The roads were lined with happy faces,
and welcome resounded from every mouth. Each step of the way produced
increasing interest, till, in that verandah where I first met her sweet
smile, I saw Glenalta’s guardian angel folded in the arms of her daughter.

Now, gentle reader, remember that it is not many years since I was
one of that heartless multitude who laugh at all that they either
do not comprehend, or that violates the rules which tyrant fashion
imposes on her worshippers. I am, therefore, prepared for a shower
of those epithets which I should once have liberally bestowed upon
a book compounded of such materials as I have employed in mine.
“Puerile”--“moral”--“prosy”--“dull,” are sounds familiar to my ear;
and if they should be applied to me by those who still belong to the
fraternity which I have quitted, I trust for ever, I must submit, yet
not without reminding them, that I held out no _false colours_. I warned
them of what was coming, and desired to be thrown aside at once by all
who opened my pages, in expectation of finding a Novel full of striking
events, or numerous incidents. I have been occupied in representing
domestic life, and giving peeps into real character, not in furnishing
scenes for the poet or the painter. But, though I am fully prepared
both for yawners and revilers, I dare to cherish a hope, that some of
those whose suffrage would repay me for a world of contumely, may find
amusement as well as truth in my sketches. Amongst the fair sex I ought
to be kindly received, for my anxious desire has been to assert their
claims; and by endeavouring to exorcise the demon of _Blueism_, restore
them to their just inheritance.

In order to this recovery of female birthright, I have attempted to
illustrate in the memoirs of the Douglas family, _that_ compatibility
so frequently denied between the highest intellectual attainment, and
the sweetest humility of heart I have tried to convince all who are
not wilfully blind, that we have still under other names, our Lady
Jane Greys, and Margaret Ropers, and that they can be as lovely and as
feminine at the present moment, as in the age when those bright examples
of excellence adorned society with their graces, virtues, and talents,
though living under the tyranny of arbitrary government, while ours is
the boasted æra of freedom, and “the _march_ of _mind_.” Whatever be my
fate, I must now bid you farewell. Even the kindest friends must part.
Adieu, then, my dear reader. May you and I shake hands in affectionate
brotherhood wherever we meet. If _you_ were always of opinion that
religion and virtue are indispensable to happiness; and that the most
agreeable people in the world may also be the best; you have an
advantage over me in never having strayed from the truth; but inasmuch
as I have erred, I am desirous to proclaim my recantation, and returning
to the nick-named Glenalta, lay down the follies of my youth, and sign
myself a sincere and penitent convert.

    ARTHUR HOWARD.


THE END.

PRINTED BY J. B. NICHOLS, 25, PARLIAMENT STREET.



ERRATA.

Transcriber’s Note: the errata in the present (third) volume have been
corrected (along with numerous errors not in this list). Those wishing to
apply corrections to the first and second volumes should note that the
page and line references given here are not always entirely accurate.


FIRST VOLUME.

Line 6, page 15, read fitting for filling.--l. 9, p. 21, _Serborian_
for Terborian.--l. 16, p. 30, selectæ for selecta.--l. 20, p. 33,
confoundedly for confounded.--l. 23, p. 37, had for has.--p. 101, we
for _We_. dele full stop.--l. 13, p. 106, insert _and_.--l. 17, p. 181,
a for to.--l. 22, p. 182, alteratives for alterations.--l. 16, p. 189,
it for I.--l. 11, p. 204, guileless for guiltless.--l. 17, p. 214,
distinguish for distinguishes.--l. 4, p. 215, induce a for I--l. 7. p.
216, _cacciata_ for _caciata_, and _fugge_ for _fuge_.--l. 4, p. 218, for
be exact, in exact.--l. 5, p. 238, retired for refined.--l. 1. p. 244,
fully for full.--l. 12, p. 245, inanity for vanity.--l. 7, p. 256, full
stop after _time_.--l. 13, p. 256, agreeably for agreeable.--l. 17, p.
276, give for gives.--l. 22, p. 292, facilities for facility.--l. 1, p.
315, lose for loose.


SECOND VOLUME.

Line 18, p. 130, for they not, read they are not.--l. 1, p. 131, for
where once, where she once;--l. 15, p. 156, insert _and_, and dele _and_
in the next line.--l. 12, p. 165, erase _the_.--l. 6, p. 181, Ronayne’s
for Ronayve’s.--l. 7, p. 181, Ture for Lure.--l. 4, p. 186, we for
he.--l. 10, p. 219, insert _in_ after imagery.--l. 9, p. 241, erase
the.--l. 6, p. 243, Causer for Cosé.--l. 24, p. 246, and for I.--l. 23,
p. 253, insert Frederick.--l. 18, p. 303, bringing for bring.


THIRD VOLUME.

Line 19, page 44, read sometimes for something.--l. 13, p. 71, you for
your.--l. 12, p. 77, Benefico (_the good giant_) for benefice.--l. 10,
p. 84, fact for facts.--l. 19, p. 93, Bayle for Boyle.--l. 24, p. 95,
before all, insert _it_.--l. 7, p. 120, bewildering for bewildered,
we for be.--l. 20, p. 143, forces for foces.--l. 13, p. 195, Sully
for Tully.--l. 1, p. 201, truly for happy.--l. 11, p. 228, erase “the
particulars.”



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