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The egoist


TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheEgoist,byGeorgeMeredith
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Title:TheEgoist
Author:GeorgeMeredith
PostingDate:September12,2012[EBook#1684]ReleaseDate:March,1999
LastUpdated:November27,2004
Language:English
***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEEGOIST***

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THEEGOIST
AComedyinNarrative
byGEORGEMEREDITH



PRELUDE
ACHAPTEROFWHICHTHELASTPAGEONLYISOFANYIMPORTANCE

Comedyisagameplayedtothrowreflectionsuponsociallife,anditdealswith
humannatureinthedrawing-roomofcivilizedmenandwomen,wherewehave
nodustofthestrugglingouterworld,nomire,noviolentcrashes,tomakethe
correctnessoftherepresentationconvincing.Credulityisnotwooedthroughthe
impressionablesenses;norhavewerecoursetothesmallcircularglowofthe
watchmaker'seyetoraiseinbrightreliefminutestgrainsofevidenceforthe
routingofincredulity.TheComicSpiritconceivesadefinitesituationfora
numberofcharacters,andrejectsallaccessoriesintheexclusivepursuitofthem
andtheirspeech.Forbeingaspirit,hehuntsthespiritinmen;visionandardour
constitutehismerit;hehasnotathoughtofpersuadingyoutobelieveinhim.
Followandyouwillsee.Butthereisaquestionofthevalueofarunathisheels.
Nowtheworldispossessedofacertainbigbook,thebiggestbookonearth;that
mightindeedbecalledtheBookofEarth;whosetitleistheBookofEgoism,and
itisabookfulloftheworld'swisdom.Sofullofit,andofsuchdimensionsis
thisbook,inwhichthegenerationshavewritteneversincetheytooktowriting,
thattobeprofitabletoustheBookneedsapowerfulcompression.
Who,saysthenotablehumourist,inallusiontothisBook,whocanstudiously
travelthroughsheetsofleavesnowcapableofastretchfromtheLizardtothe
lastfewpoorpulmonarysnipsandshredsofleaguesdancingontheirtoesfor
cold,explorerstellus,andcatchingbreathbygoodluck,likedogsatbones
aboutatable,ontheedgeofthePole?Inordinateunvariedlength,sheer
longinquity,staggerstheheart,agestheveryheartofusataview.Andhowif
wemanagefinallytoprintoneofourpagesonthecrow-scalpofthatsolitary
majesticoutsider?WemaygethimintotheBook;yettheknowledgewewant
willnotbemorepresentwithusthanitwaswhenthechaptershungtheirend
overthecliffyoukenofatDover,wheresitsourgreatlordandmaster


contemplatingtheseaswithoutuponthereflexofthatwithin!
Inotherwords,asIventuretotranslatehim(humouristsaredifficult:itisapiece
oftheirhumourtopuzzleourwits),theinwardmirror,theembracingand
condensingspirit,isrequiredtogiveusthoseinterminablemilepostpilesof
matter(extendingwell-nightotheveryPole)inessence,inchosensamples,
digestibly.Iconceivehimtoindicatethattherealisticmethodofaconscientious
transcriptionofallthevisible,andarepetitionofalltheaudible,ismainly
accountableforourpresentbranfulness,andthatprolongationofthevastyand
thenoisy,outofwhich,asfromanundrainedfen,steamsthemaladyof


sameness,ourmodernmalady.Wehavethemalady,whatevermaybethecureor
thecause.WedroveinabodytoSciencetheotherdayforanantidote;which
wasasiftiredpedestriansshouldmounttheengine-boxofheadlongtrains;and
Scienceintroducedustoouro'er-hoaryancestry—themintheOrientalposture;
whereuponwesetupaprimaevalchatteringtorivaltheAmazonforestnigh
nightfall,cured,wefancied.Andbeforedaybreakourdiseasewashangingonto
usagain,withtheextensionofatail.Wehaditforeandaft.Wewerethesame,
andanimalsintothebargain.ThatisallwegotfromScience.
Artisthespecific.Wehavelittletolearnofapes,andtheymaybeleft.Thechief
considerationforusis,whatparticularpracticeofArtinlettersisthebestforthe
perusaloftheBookofourcommonwisdom;sothatwithclearermindsand
liveliermannerswemayescape,asitwere,intodaylightandsongfromalandof
fog-horns.Shallwereaditbythewatchmaker'seyeinluminousringseruptive
oftheinfinitesimal,orpointedwithexamplesandtypesunderthebroadAlpine
surveyofthespiritbornofourunitedsocialintelligence,whichistheComic
Spirit?Wisemensaythelatter.Theytellusthatthereisaconstanttendencyin
theBooktoaccumulateexcessofsubstance,andsuchrepleteness,obscuringthe
glassitholdstomankind,rendersusinexactintherecognitionofourindividual
countenances:aperilousthingforcivilization.Andthesewisemenarestrongin
theiropinionthatweshouldencouragetheComicSpirit,whoisafterallourown
offspring,torelievetheBook.Comedy,theysay,isthetruediversion,asitis
likewisethekeyofthegreatBook,themusicoftheBook.Theytellushowit
condenseswholesectionsofthebookinasentence,volumesinacharacter;so
thatafairpanofabookoutstrippingthousandsofleagueswhenunrolledmaybe
compassedinonecomicsitting.
Forverily,saythey,wemustreadwhatwecanofit,atleastthepagebeforeus,
ifwewouldbemen.One,withanindexontheBook,criesout,inastyle


pardonabletohisfervency:Theremedyofyourfrightfulafflictionishere,
throughthestillatoryofComedy,andnotinScience,noryetinSpeed,whose
nameisbutanotherforvoracity.Why,tobealive,tobequickinthesoul,there
shouldbediversityinthecompanionthrobsofyourpulses.Interrogatethem.
TheylumpalongliketheoldloblegsofDobbinthehorse;ordotheirbusiness
likecudgelsofcarpet-thwackersexpellingdustorthecottage-clockpendulum
teachingtheinfanthourovermidnightsimplearithmetic.Thistooinspiteof
Bacchus.Andletthemgallop;letthemgallopwiththeGodbestridingthem;
galloptoHymen,galloptoHades,theystrikethesamenote.Monstrous
monotonousnesshasenfoldedusaswiththearmsofAmphitrite!Weheara
shoutofwarforadiversion.—Comedyhepronouncestobeourmeansof
readingswiftlyandcomprehensively.Sheitiswhoproposesthecorrectingof
pretentiousness,ofinflation,ofdulness,andofthevestigesofrawnessand
grossnesstobefoundamongus.Sheistheultimatecivilizer,thepolisher,a
sweetcook.If,hesays,shewatchesoversentimentalismwithabirch-rod,sheis
notopposedtoromance.Youmaylove,andwarmlylove,solongasyouare
honest.Donotoffendreason.Aloverpretendingtoomuchbyonefoot'slength
ofpretence,willhavethatfootcaughtinhertrap.InComedyisthesingular
sceneofcharityissuingofdisdainunderthestrokeofhonourablelaughter:an
ArielreleasedbyProspero'swandfromthefettersofthedamnedwitchSycorax.
Andthislaughterofreasonrefreshedisfloriferous,likethemagicalgreatgaleof
theshiftySpringdecidingforSummer.Youhearitgivingthedelicatespirithis
liberty.Listen,forcomparison,toanunleavenedsociety:alowasoftheudderful
cowpastmilkinghour!Oforatitledecclesiastictocursetoexcommunication
thatunholything!—Sofaranenthusiastperhaps;butheshouldhaveahearing.
Concerningpathos,noshipcannowsetsailwithoutpathos;andwearenot
totallydeficientofpathos;whichis,Idonotaccuratelyknowwhat,ifnotthe
ballast,reducibletomoisturebypatentprocess,onboardourmodernvessel;for
itcanhardlybethecargo,andthegeneralwatersupplyhasotheruses;andships
wellchargedwithitseemtosailthestiffest:—thereisatouchofpathos.The
Egoistsurelyinspirespity.Hewhowoulddesiretoclothehimselfateverybody's
expense,andisofthatdesirecondemnedtostriphimselfstarknaked,he,if
pathoseverhadaform,mightbetakenfortheactualperson.Onlyheisnot
allowedtorushatyou,rollyouoverandsqueezeyourbodyforthebrinydrops.
Thereistheinnovation.
Youmayaswellknowhimoutofhand,asagentlemanofourtimeandcountry,
ofwealthandstation;anotflexilefigure,dowhatwemaywithhim;thehumour


ofwhomscarcelydimplesthesurfaceandisdistinguishablebutbyvery
penetrative,verywickedimps,whosefitsofroaringbelowatsomegenerally
imperceptiblestrokeofhisquality,havefirstmadethemildliteraryangelsaware
ofsomethingcomicinhim,whentheywereoneandallabouttodescribethe
gentlemanontheheadingoftherecordsbaldly(wherebrevityismost
complimentary)asagentlemanoffamilyandproperty,anidolofadecorous
islandthatadmirestheconcrete.Impshavetheirfreakishwickednessinthemto
kindledetectivevision:malignlydotheylovetouncoverridiculousnessin
imposingfigures.WherevertheycatchsightofEgoismtheypitchtheircamps,
theycircleandsquat,andforthwiththeytrimtheirlanterns,confidentofthe
ludicroustocome.SoconfidentthattheirgripofanEnglishgentleman,inwhom
theyhavespiedtheirgame,neverrelaxesuntilhebeginsinsensiblytofrolicand
antic,unknowntohimself,andcomesoutinthenativesteamwhichistheirscent
ofthechase.Instantlyofftheyscour,Egoistandimps.Theywill,itisknownof
them,dogagreatHouseforcenturies,andbeatthebirthofallthenewheirsin
succession,diligentlytakingconfirmatorynotes,tojoinhandsandchimetheir
chorusinoneoftheirmerryringsroundthetotteringpillaroftheHouse,when
histurnarrives;asiftheyhad(possiblytheyhad)smeltofolddateadoomed
colossusofEgoisminthatunborn,unconceivedinheritorofthestuffofthe
family.TheydarenotbechucklingwhileEgoismisvaliant,whilesober,while
sociallyvaluable,nationallyserviceable.Theywait.
AforetimeagrandoldEgoismbuilttheHouse.Itwouldappearthateverfiner
essencesofitaredemandedtosustainthestructure;butespeciallywouldit
appearthatareversiontothegrossoriginal,beneathamaskandinaveinof
fineness,isanearthquakeatthefoundationsoftheHouse.Betterthatitshould
nothaveconsentedtomotion,andhaveheldstubbornlytoallancestralways,
thanhavebredthatanachronicspectre.Thesight,however,isonetomakeour
squattingimpsincirclegrowrestlessontheirhaunches,astheybendeyes
instantly,earsatfullcock,forthecommencementofthecomicdramaofthe
suicide.Ifthislineofversebenotyetinourliterature,
Throughveryloveofselfhimselfheslew,
letitbeadmittedforhisepitaph.

CHAPTERI


AMINORINCIDENTSHOWINGANHEREDITARYAPTITUDEINTHEUSEOFTHEKNIFE

Therewasanominouslyanxiouswatchofeyesvisibleandinvisibleoverthe
infancyofWilloughby,fifthindescentfromSimonPatterne,ofPatterneHall,
premierofthisfamily,alawyer,amanofsolidacquirementsandstoutambition,
whowellunderstoodthefoundation-workofaHouse,andwasendowedwith
thepowerofsayingNotothosefirstagentsofdestruction,besiegingrelatives.
Hesaiditwiththeresonantemphasisofdeathtoyoungersons.Foriftheoakis
tobecomeastatelytree,wemustprovideagainstthecrowdingoftimber.Also
thetreebesetwithparasitesprospersnot.AgreatHouseinitsbeginninglives,
wemaytrulysay,bytheknife.Soiliseasilygot,andsoarebricks,andawife,
andchildrencomeofwishingforthem,butthevigoroususeoftheknifeisa
naturalgiftandpointstogrowth.PauperPatterneswerenumerouswhenthefifth
headoftheracewasthehopeofhiscounty.APatternewasintheMarines.
Thecountryandthechiefofthisfamilyweresimultaneouslyinformedofthe
existenceofoneLieutenantCrossjayPatterne,ofthecorpsofthefamoushard
fighters,throughanactofheroismoftheunpretendingcoolsortwhichkindles
Britishblood,onthepartofthemodestyoungofficer,inthestormingofsome
easternriverainstronghold,somewhereaboutthecoastofChina.Theofficer's
youthwasassumedonthestrengthofhisrank,perhapslikewisefromthetaleof
hismodesty:"hehadonlydonehisduty".OurWilloughbywasthenatCollege,
emulousofthegenerousenthusiasmofhisyears,andstrangelyimpressedbythe
report,andtheprintingofhisnameinthenewspapers.Hethoughtoveritfor
severalmonths,when,comingtohistitleandheritage,hesentLieutenant
CrossjayPatterneachequeforasumofmoneyamountingtothegallantfellow's
payperannum,atthesametimeshowinghisacquaintancewiththefirst,or
chemical,principlesofgenerosity,intheremarktofriendsathome,that"blood
isthickerthanwater".ThemanisaMarine,butheisaPatterne.Howany
PatterneshouldhavedriftedintotheMarines,isoftheorderofquestionswhich
aresenselesslyaskedofthegreatdispensary.Inthecomplimentaryletter
accompanyinghischeque,thelieutenantwasinvitedtopresenthimselfatthe
ancestralHall,whenconvenienttohim,andhewasassuredthathehadgivenhis
relativeandfriendatasteforasoldier'slife.YoungSirWilloughbywasfondof
talkingofhis"militarynamesakeanddistantcousin,youngPatterne—the
Marine".Itwasfunny;andnotlesslaughablewasthedescriptionofhis
namesake'sdeedofvalour:withtherescuedBritishsailorinebriate,andthe
haulingofftocaptivityofthethreebravesoftheblackdragononayellow
ground,andthetyingofthemtogetherbacktobackbytheirpigtails,anddriving


ofthemintoourlinesuponanewlydeviseddying-topstyleofmarchthat
inclinedtotheoblique,liketheastonishedsixeyesofthecelestialprisoners,for
straighttheycouldnotgo.Thehumourofgentlemenathomeisalwayshighly
excitedbysuchcoolfeats.Weareasmallisland,butyouseewhatwedo.The
ladiesattheHall,SirWilloughby'smother,andhisauntsEleanorandIsabel,
weremoreaffectedthanhebythecircumstanceoftheirhavingaPatterneinthe
Marines.Buthowthen!WeEnglishhaveducalbloodinbusiness:wehave,
genealogiststellus,royalbloodincommontrades.Forallourpridewearea
queerpeople;andyoumaybeorderingbutcher'smeatofaTudor,sittingonthe
cane-bottomchairsofaPlantagenet.Byandbyyoumay...butcherishyour
reverence.YoungWilloughbymadeakindofshock-headorfootballheroofhis
gallantdistantcousin,andwonderedoccasionallythatthefellowhadbeen
contenttodispatchaletterofeffusivethankswithoutavailinghimselfofthe
invitationtopartakeofthehospitalitiesofPatterne.
Hewasoneafternoonparadingbetweenshowersonthestatelygardenterraceof
theHall,incompanywithhisaffianced,thebeautifulanddashingConstantia
Durham,followedbyknotsofladiesandgentlemenvowedtofreshairbefore
dinner,whileitwastobehad.Chancingwithhisusualhappyfortune(wecall
thesethingsdealttousoutofthegreathiddendispensary,chance)toglanceup
theavenueoflimes,ashewasintheactofturningonhisheelattheendofthe
terrace,anditshouldbeadded,discoursingwithpassion'sprivilegeofthe
passionoflovetoMissDurham,SirWilloughby,whowasanythingbutobtuse,
experiencedapresentimentuponespyingathick-setstumpymancrossingthe
gravelspacefromtheavenuetothefrontstepsoftheHall,decidedlynotbearing
thestampofthegentleman"onhishat,hiscoat,hisfeet,oranythingthatwas
his,"Willoughbysubsequentlyobservedtotheladiesofhisfamilyinthe
Scripturalstyleofgentlemenwhodobearthestamp.Hisbriefsketchofthe
creaturewasrepulsive.Thevisitorcarriedabag,andhiscoat-collarwasup,his
hatwasmelancholy;hehadtheappearanceofabankrupttradesmanabsconding;
nogloves,noumbrella.
Astotheincidentwehavetonote,itwasveryslight.ThecardofLieutenant
PatternewashandedtoSirWilloughby,wholaiditonthesalver,sayingtothe
footman,"Notathome."
Hehadbeendisappointedintheage,grosslydeceivedintheappearanceofthe
manclaimingtobehisrelativeinthisunseasonablefashion;andhisacute
instinctadvisedhimswiftlyoftheabsurdityofintroducingtohisfriendsaheavy


unpresentableseniorasthecelebratedgallantLieutenantofMarines,andthe
sameasamemberofhisfamily!Hehadtalkedofthemantoomuch,too
enthusiastically,tobeabletodoso.Ayoungsubaltern,evenifpassablyvulgar
infigure,canbeshuffledthroughbytheaidoftheheroicalstoryhumourously
exaggeratedinapologyforhisaspect.Nothingcanbedonewithamatureand
stumpyMarineofthatrank.Consideratenessdismisseshimonthespot,without
parley.Itwasperformedbyagentlemansupremelyadvancedataveryearlyage
intheartofcutting.
YoungSirWilloughbyspokeawordoftherejectedvisitortoMissDurham,in
responsetoherstartledlook:"Ishalldrophimacheque,"hesaid,forshe
seemedpersonallywounded,andhadafaceofcrimson.
Theyoungladydidnotreply.
DatingfromthehumbledepartureofLieutenantCrossjayPatterneupthelimesavenueunderagatheringrain-cloud,theringofimpsinattendanceonSir
Willoughbymaintainedtheirstationwithstrictobservationofhismovementsat
allhours;andwerecomparisonsinquest,thesympatheticeagernessoftheeyes
ofcagedmonkeysforthehandabouttofeedthem,wouldsupplyone.They
perceivedinhimafreshdevelopmentandverysubtlemanifestationofthevery
oldthingfromwhichhehadsprung.

CHAPTERII
THEYOUNGSIRWILLOUGHBY

Theselittlescoundrelimps,whohaveattainedtosomerespectabilityasthedogs
andpetsoftheComicSpirit,hadbeencuriouslyattentivethreeyearsearlier,
longbeforethepublicannouncementofhisengagementtothebeautifulMiss
Durham,onthedayofSirWilloughby'smajority,whenMrs.Mountstuart
Jenkinsonsaidherwordofhim.Mrs.Mountstuartwasaladycertaintosaythe
remembered,ifnottheright,thing.Againandagainwasitconfirmedondaysof
highcelebration,daysofbirthorbridal,howsureshewastohitthemarkthat
rangthebell;andawayherwordwentoverthecounty:andhadshebeenan
uncharitablewomanshecouldhaveruledthecountywithanironrodof
caricature,sosharpwashertouch.Agrainofmalicewouldhavesentcounty


facesandcharactersawryintothecurrency.Shewaswealthyandkindly,and
resembledourmotherNatureinherreasonableantipathiestooneortwothings
whichnonecandefend,andherdecidedpreferenceofpersonsthatshoneinthe
sun.Herwordsprangoutofher.Shelookedatyou,andforthitcame:andit
stucktoyou,asnothinglabouredorliterarycouldhaveadhered.Hersayingof
LaetitiaDale:"Hereshecomeswitharomantictaleonhereyelashes,"wasa
portraitofLaetitia.AndthatofVernonWhitford:"HeisaPhoebusApollo
turnedfastingfriar,"paintedthesunkenbrilliancyoftheleanlong-walkerand
scholaratastroke.
OftheyoungSirWilloughby,herwordwasbrief;andtherewasthemeritofit
onadaywhenhewashearingfromsunrisetothesettingofthemoonsalutesin
hishonour,songsofpraiseandCiceronianeulogy.Rich,handsome,courteous,
generous,lordoftheHall,thefeastandthedance,heexcitedhisguestsofboth
sexestoaholidayofflattery.And,saysMrs.Mountstuart,whilegrandphrases
weremouthingroundabouthim,"Youseehehasaleg."
Thatyousaw,ofcourse.Butaftershehadspokenyousawmuchmore.Mrs.
Mountstuartsaiditjustasothersutteremptynothings,withneverahintofa
stress.Herwordwastakenup,andverysoon,fromtheextremeendofthelong
drawing-room,thecirculationofsomethingofMrs.Mountstuart'swasdistinctly
perceptible.LadyPatternesentalittleHebedown,skirtingthedancers,foran
accuratereportofit;andeventheinappreciativelipsofaveryyounglady
transmittingthewordcouldnotdamptheimpressionofitsweightytruthfulness.
Itwasperfect!AdulationoftheyoungSirWilloughby'sbeautyandwit,and
aristocraticbearingandmien,andofhismoralvirtues,wascommon;welcomeif
youlike,asaformofhomage;butcommon,almostvulgar,besideMrs.
Mountstuart'squietlittletouchofnature.Inseemingtosayinfinitelylessthan
others,asMissIsabelPatternepointedouttoLadyBusshe,Mrs.Mountstuart
comprisedallthattheothershadsaid,byshowingtheneedlessnessofallusions
tothesalientlyevident.Shewasthearistocratreprovingtheprovincial."Heis
everythingyouhavehadthegoodnesstoremark,ladiesanddearsirs,hetalks
charmingly,dancesdivinely,rideswiththeairofacommander-in-chief,hasthe
mostnaturalgrandposepossiblewithoutceasingforamomenttobetheyoung
Englishgentlemanheis.Alcibiades,freshfromaLouisIVperruquier,couldnot
surpasshim:whateveryouplease;Icouldoutdoyouinsublimecomparisons,
wereImindedtopelthim.Haveyounoticedthathehasaleg?"
Somightitbeamplified.Asimple-seemingwordofthisimportisthetriumphof


thespiritual,andwhereitpassesforcoinofvalue,thesocietyhasreachedahigh
refinement:Arcadianbytheaestheticroute.ObservationofWilloughbywasnot,
asMissEleanorPatternepointedouttoLadyCulmer,drawndowntotheleg,but
directedtoestimatehimfromthelegupward.That,however,isprosaic.Dwella
shortspaceonMrs.Mountstuart'sword;andwhither,intowhatfairregion,and
withhowdecorouslyvoluptuousasensation,donotwefly,whohave,through
mournfulvenerationoftheMartyrCharles,acoyattachmenttotheCourtofhis
MerrieSon,wherethelegwasribandedwithlove-knotsandreigned.Oh!itwas
anaughtyCourt.YethavewedreamedofitastheperiodwhenanEnglish
cavalierwasgraceincarnate;farfromtheboornowhustlingusinanother
sphere;beautifullymannered,everygesturedulcet.Andiftheladieswere...we
willhopetheyhavebeentraduced.Butiftheywere,iftheyweretootender,ah!
gentlemenweregentlementhen—worthperishingfor!Thereisthisdreaminthe
Englishcountry;anditmustbeanaspirationaftersomeformofmelodious
gentlemanlinesswhichisimaginedtohaveinhabitedtheislandatonetime;as
amongourpoetsthedreamoftheperiodofacircleofchivalryhereis
encouragedforthepleasureoftheimagination.
Mrs.Mountstuarttouchedathrillingchord."Inspiteofmen'shatefulmodern
costume,youseehehasaleg."
Thatis,thelegoftheborncavalierisbeforeyou:andobscureitasyouwill,
dressdegenerately,thereitisforladieswhohaveeyes.Youseeit:or,youseehe
hasit.MissIsabelandMissEleanordisputedtheincidenceoftheemphasis,but
surely,thoughaslightdifferenceofmeaningmaybeheard,eitherwilldo:many,
withagoodshowofreason,throwtheaccentuponleg.Andtheladiesknewfor
afactthatWilloughby'slegwasexquisite;hehadacavaliercourt-suitinhis
wardrobe.Mrs.Mountstuartsignifiedthatthelegwastobeseenbecauseitwasa
burningleg.Thereitis,anditwillshinethrough!HehasthelegofRochester,
Buckingham,Dorset,Suckling;thelegthatsmiles,thatwinks,isobsequiousto
you,yetperforceofbeautyself-satisfied;thattwinklestoatendermidway
betweenimperiousnessandseductiveness,audacityanddiscretion;between
"Youshallworshipme",and"Iamdevotedtoyou;"isyourlord,yourslave,
alternatelyandinone.Itisalegofebbandflowandhigh-tideripples.Sucha
leg,whenithasdonewithpretendingtoretire,willwalkstraightintothehearts
ofwomen.Nothingsofataltothem.
Self-satisfieditmustbe.Humblenessdoesnotwinmultitudesorthesex.Itmust
bevaintohaveasheen.Captivatingmelodies(toprovetoyouthe


unavoidablenessofself-satisfactionwhenyouknowthatyouhavehit
perfection),listentothemclosely,haveaninnerpipeofthatconceitalmost
ludicrouswhenyoudetectthechirp.
Andyouneednotberemindedthathehasthelegwithoutthenaughtiness.You
seeeminentinhimwhatwewouldfainhavebroughtaboutinanationthathas
lostitslegingainingapossiblycleanermorality.Andthatisoftencontested;but
thereisnodoubtofthelossoftheleg.
Well,footmenandcourtiersandScottishHighlanders,andthecorpsdeballet,
draymentoo,havelegs,andstaringlegs,shapelyenough.Butwhatarethey?not
themodulatedinstrumentwemean—simplylegsforleg-work,dumbasthe
brutes.Ourcavalier'sisthepoeticleg,aportent,avaliance.HehasitasCicero
hadatongue.Itisalutetoscattersongstohismistress;arapier,issheobdurate.
Insoothalegwithbrainsinit,soul.
Anditsshadowsareanambush,itslightsasurprise.Itblushes,itpales,can
whisper,exclaim.Itisapeep,apartrevelation,justsufferable,oftheOlympian
god—Joveplayingcarpet-knight.
FortheyoungSirWilloughby'sfamilyandhisthoughtfuladmirers,itisnottoo
muchtosaythatMrs.Mountstuart'slittlewordfetchedanepochofourhistory
tocolourtheeveningofhisarrivalatman'sestate.HewasallthatMerrie
Charles'scourtshouldhavebeen,subtractingnotasparklefromwhatitwas.
Underthislighthedanced,andyoumayconsidertheeffectofitonhiscompany.
Hehadreceivedthedomesticeducationofaprince.Littleprincesaboundina
landofheapedriches.Wheretheyhavenottoyieldmilitaryservicetoan
Imperialmaster,theyarenecessarilyhereandtheredaintyduringyouth,
sometimesunmanageable,andastheyareboundinnopersonaldutytotheState,
eachisforhimself,withfullpresent,andwhatismore,luxurious,prospective
leisureforthepracticeofthatallegiance.Theyaresometimesenervatedbyit:
thatmustbeincontinentalcountries.Happilyourclimateandourbraveblood
precipitatethegreaternumberuponthehunting-field,todothepublicserviceof
headingthechaseofthefox,withbenefittotheirconstitutions.Henceamanly
aswellasusefulraceoflittleprinces,andWilloughbywasasmanlyasany.He
cultivatedhimself,hewouldnotbeoutdoneinpopularaccomplishments.Had
thestandardofthepublictastebeensetinphilosophy,andthenational
enthusiasmcentredinphilosophers,hewouldatleasthaveworkedatbooks.He


didworkatscience,andhadalaboratory.Hisadmirablepassiontoexcel,
however,waschieflydirectedinhisyouthuponsport;andsogreatwasthe
passioninhim,thatitwascommonlythepresenceofrivalswhichledhimtothe
declarationoflove.
Heknewhimself,nevertheless,tobethemostconstantofmeninhisattachment
tothesex.HehadneverdiscouragedLaetitiaDale'sdevotiontohim,andeven
whenhefollowedinthesweepingtideofthebeautifulConstantiaDurham
(whomMrs.Mountstuartcalled"TheRacingCutter"),hethoughtofLaetitia,
andlookedather.Shewasashyviolet.
Willoughby'scomportmentwhiletheshowersofadulationdrenchedhimmight
belikenedtothecomposureofIndianGodsundergoingworship,butunlike
themhereposeduponnoseatofamplitudetopreservehimfromabetrayalof
intoxication;hehadtocontinuetripping,dancing,exactlybalancinghimself,
headtoright,headtoleft,addressinghisidolatersinphrasesofperfect
choiceness.Thisisonlytosaythatitiseasiertobeawoodenidolthanonein
theflesh;yetWilloughbywasequaltohistask.Thelittleprince'seducation
teacheshimthatheisotherthanyou,andbyvirtueoftheinstructionhereceives,
andalsosomething,weknownotwhat,within,heisenabledtomaintainhis
posturewhereyouwouldbetottering.
Urchinsuponwhosecurlypatesgraveseniorslaytheirhandswithconventional
encomiumandspeculation,lookolderthantheyareimmediately,and
Willoughbylookedolderthanhisyears,notforwantoffreshness,butbecause
hefeltthathehadtostandeminentlyandcorrectlypoised.
HearingofMrs.Mountstuart'swordonhim,hesmiledandsaid,"Itisather
service."
Thespeechwascommunicatedtoher,andsheproposedtoattachadedicatory
stripofsilk.Andthentheycametogether,andtherewaswitandrepartee
suitabletotheelectricalatmosphereofthedancing-room,onthemarchtoa
magicalhallofsupper.WilloughbyconductedMrs.Mountstuarttothesuppertable.
"WereI,"saidshe,"twentyyearsyounger,IthinkIwouldmarryyou,tocuremy
infatuation."
"Thenletmetellyouinadvance,madam,"saidhe,"thatIwilldoeverythingto


obtainanewleaseofit,exceptdivorceyou."
Theywereinfinitelywittier,butsomuchwasheardandmaybereported.
"Itmakesthebusinessofchoosingawifeforhimsuperhumanlydifficult!"Mrs.
Mountstuartobserved,afterlisteningtothepraisesshehadsetgoingagainwhen
theladieswereweededofus,inLadyPatterne'sIndianroom,andcould
converseunhamperedupontheirownetherealthemes.
"Willoughbywillchooseawifeforhimself,"saidhismother.

CHAPTERIII
CONSTANTIADURHAM

Thegreatquestionforthecountywasdebatedinmanyhouseholds,daughterthrongedanddaughterless,longsubsequenttothememorabledayof
Willoughby'scomingofage.LadyBusshewasforConstantiaDurham.She
laughedatMrsMountstuartJenkinson'snotionofLaetitiaDale.Shewasalittle
olderthanMrs.Mountstuart,andhadknownWilloughby'sfather,whose
marriageintothewealthiestbranchoftheWhitfordfamilyhadbeenstrictly
sagacious."Patternesmarrymoney;theyarenotromanticpeople,"shesaid.
MissDurhamhadmoney,andshehadhealthandbeauty:threemighty
qualificationsforaPatternebride.Herfather,SirJohnDurham,wasalarge
landownerinthewesterndivisionofthecounty;apompousgentleman,the
pictureofafather-in-lawforWilloughby.ThefatherofMissDalewasabattered
armysurgeonfromIndia,tenantofoneofSirWilloughby'scottagesbordering
PatternePark.Hisgirlwasportionlessandapoetess.Herwritingofthesongin
celebrationoftheyoungbaronet'sbirthdaywasthoughtacleverventure,boldas
onlyyourtimidcreaturescanbebold.Sheletthecatoutofherbagofverse
beforethemultitude;shealmostproposedtoherheroinherrhymes.Shewas
pretty;hereyelasheswerelonganddark,hereyesdark-blue,andhersoulwas
readytoshootlikearocketoutofthematalookfromWilloughby.Andhe
looked,hecertainlylooked,thoughhedidnotdancewithheroncethatnight,
anddancedrepeatedlywithMissDurham.HegaveLaetitiatoVernonWhitford
forthefinaldanceofthenight,andhemayhavelookedathersomuchinpityof
anelegantgirlalliedtosuchapartner.The"PhoebusApolloturnedfastingfriar"


hadentirelyforgottenhismusicalgiftsinmotion.Hecrossedhimselfand
crossedhisbewilderedlady,andcrossedeverybodyinthefigure,extorting
shoutsofcordiallaughterfromhiscousinWilloughby.Beitsaidthatthehour
wasfourinthemorning,whendancersmustlaughatsomebody,ifonlyto
refreshtheirfeet,andthewitofthehouradministerstothewildestlaughter.
VernonwaslikenedtoTheseusinthemaze,entirelydependentuponhis
Ariadne;toaflyreleasedfromajam-pot;toa"salvage",orgreen,mancaughtin
awebofnymphsandmadetogothepaces.Willoughbywasinexhaustibleinthe
happysimileshepouredouttoMissDurhamacrossthelinesofSirRogerde
Coverley,andtheywerenotforgotten,theyprocuredhimareputationasa
convivialsparkler.RumourwenttheroundthatheintendedtogiveLaetitiato
Vernonforgood,whenhecoulddecidetotakeMissDurhamtohimself;his
generositywasfamous;butthatdecision,thoughtheropewasintheformofa
knot,seemedreluctantfortheconclusiveclosehaul;itpreferredthestateof
slackness;andifhecourtedLaetitiaonbehalfofhiscousin,hiscousinlylove
musthavebeengreaterthanhispassion,onehadtosuppose.Hewasgenerous
enoughforit,orformarryingtheportionlessgirlhimself.
Therewasastoryofabrilliantyoungwidowofouraristocracywhohadvery
nearlysnaredhim.Whyshouldheobjecttomarryintoouraristocracy?Mrs.
Mountstuartaskedhim,andherepliedthatthegirlsofthatclasshavenomoney,
andhedoubtedthequalityoftheirblood.Hehadhiseyesawake.Hisdutytohis
Housewasaforemostthoughtwithhim,andforsuchareasonhemayhavebeen
moreanxioustogivetheslimandnotrobustLaetitiatoVernonthanaccedeto
hispersonalinclination.Thementionofthewidowsingularlyoffendedhim,
notwithstandingthehighrankoftheladynamed."Awidow?"hesaid."I!"He
spoketoawidow;anoldishonetruly;buthiswrathatthesuggestionofhis
unionwithawidowledhimtobeforthemomentobliviousoftheminorshades
ofgoodtaste.HedesiredMrs.Mountstuarttocontradictthestoryinpositive
terms.Herepeatedhisdesire;hewasurgenttohaveitcontradicted,andsaid
again,"Awidow!"straighteninghiswholefiguretotheerectnessoftheletterI.
Shewasawidowunmarriedasecondtime,andithasbeenknownofthestedfast
womenwhoretainthenameoftheirfirsthusband,ordonothamperhistitle
withalittlenewsquireattheirskirts,thattheycanpartiallyapprovethe
objectionsindicatedbySirWilloughby.Theyarethinkingofthemselveswhen
theydoso,andtheywillrarelysay,"Imighthavemarried;"rarelywithinthem
willtheyavowthat,withtheirpermission,itmighthavebeen.Theycancatchan
ideaofagentleman'sviewofthewidow'scap.Butanicenessthatcouldfeel
sharplywoundedbythesimplerumourofhisalliancewiththeyoungrelictofan


earlwasmystifying.SirWilloughbyunbent.HismilitaryletterItookacareless
glanceatitselfloungingidlyandproudlyateaseintheglassofhismind,decked
withawantonwreath,ashedroppedahint,generouslyvague,justtoshowthe
originoftherumour,andtheexcellentbasisithadfornotbeingcredited.Hewas
chidden.Mrs.Mountstuartreadhimalecture.Shewashoweverableto
contradictthetaleoftheyoungcountess."Thereisnofearofhismarryingher,
mydears."
Meanwhiletherewasafearthathewouldlosehischanceofmarryingthe
beautifulMissDurham.
Thedilemmasoflittleprincesareoftengrave.Theyshouldbedweltonnowand
thenforanexampletopoorstrugglingcommoners,oftheslingsandarrows
assailingfortune'smostfavouredmen,thatwemaypreachcontentmenttothe
wretchwhocannotmusterwherewithaltomarryawife,orhasdoneitandtrots
thestreets,pack-laden,tomaintainthedameandtroopsofchildrenpainfully
rearedtofillsubordinatestations.Accordingtoourreading,amoralisalways
welcomeinamoralcountry,andespeciallysowhensillyenvyistobechastised
byit,therestlesscravingforchangerebuked.YoungSirWilloughby,then,stood
inthisdilemma:—aladywasateitherhandofhim;theonlytwothathadever,
apartfrommetropolitanconquests,nottoberecited,touchedhisemotions.
Susceptibletobeauty,hehadneverseensobeautifulagirlasConstantia
Durham.Equallysusceptibletoadmirationofhimself,heconsideredLaetitia
Daleaparagonofcleverness.Hestoodbetweenthequeenlyroseandthemodest
violet.Onehebowedto;theotherbowedtohim.Hecouldnothaveboth;itis
thelawgoverningprincesandpedestriansalike.Butwhichcouldheforfeit?His
growingacquaintancewiththeworldtaughthimtoputanincreasingpriceon
thesentimentsofMissDale.StillConstantia'sbeautywasofakindtosendaway
beholdersaching.Shehadthegloryoftheracingcutterfullsailonawhining
breeze;andshedidnotcourttowinhim,sheflew.Inhismorereflectivehour
theattractivenessofthatladywhichheldthemirrortohisfeatureswas
paramount.Buthehadpassionatesnatcheswhenthemagnetismoftheflyer
drewhiminherwake.Furthertoaddtothecomplexity,helovedhisliberty;he
wasprincelierfree;hehadmoresubjects,moreslaves;heruledarrogantlyinthe
worldofwomen;hewasmorehimself.Hismetropolitanexperiencesdidnot
answertohislikingtheparticularquestion,Dowebindthewomandowntous
idolatrouslybymakingawifeofher?
Inthemidstofhisdeliberations,areportofthehotpursuitofMissDurham,


casuallymentionedtohimbyLadyBusshe,drewanimmediateproposalfrom
SirWilloughby.Sheacceptedhim,andtheywereengaged.Shehadbeennibbled
at,allbuteatenup,whilehehungdubitative;andthoughthatwasthecauseof
hiswinningher,itoffendedhisniceness.Shehadnotcometohimoutof
cloistralpurity,outofperfectradiancy.Spiritually,likewise,washealittle
prince,adespoticprince.Hewishedforhertohavecometohimoutofaneggshell,somewhatmoreastonishedatthingsthanachicken,butascompletely
enclosedbeforehetappedtheshell,andseeinghimwithhersex'seyesfirstofall
men.Shetalkedfranklyofhercousinsandfriends,youngmales.Shecouldhave
repliedtohisbitterwish:"Hadyouaskedmeonthenightofyourtwenty-first
birthday,Willoughby!"Sincethenshehadbeeninthedustoftheworld,andhe
conceivedhispeculiarantipathy,destinedtobesofataltohim,fromtheearlier
hoursofhisengagement.Hewasquaintlyincapableofajealousyofindividuals.
AyoungCaptainOxfordhadbeenforemostintheswarmpursuingConstantia.
WilloughbythoughtaslittleofCaptainOxfordashedidofVernonWhitford.
Hisenemywastheworld,themass,whichconfoundsusinalump,whichhas
breathedonherwhomwehaveselected,whomwecannot,cannever,rubquite
clearofhercontactwiththeabominatedcrowd.Thepleasureoftheworldisto
bowldownoursoldierlyletterI;toencroachonouridentity,soilourniceness.
Tobegintothinkisthebeginningofdisgustoftheworld.
Assoontheengagementwaspublishedallthecountysaidthattherehadnot
beenachanceforLaetitia,andMrs.MountstuartJenkinsonhumblyremarked,in
anattitudeofpenitence,"I'mnotawitch."LadyBusshecouldclaimtobeone;
shehadforetoldtheevent.Laetitiawasofthesameopinionasthecounty.She
hadlookedup,butnothopefully.Shehadonlylookeduptothebrightest,and,as
hewasthehighest,howcouldshehavehoped?Shewasthesolitarycompanion
ofasickfather,whoseinveterateprognosticofher,thatshewouldlivetoruleat
PatterneHall,torturedthepoorgirlinproportionasheseemedtoderivecomfort
fromit.Thenoiseoftheengagementmerelysilencedhim;recluseinvalidscling
obstinatelytotheirideas.HehadobservedSirWilloughbyinthesocietyofhis
daughter,whentheyoungbaronetrevivedtoasprightlyboyishnessimmediately.
Indeed,asbigboyandlittlegirl,theyhadplayedtogetherofold.Willoughby
hadbeenahandsome,fairboy.TheportraitofhimattheHall,inahat,leaning
onhispony,withcrossedlegs,andlongflaxencurlsoverhisshoulders,wasthe
imageofhersoul'smostpresentangel;and,asaman,hehad—shedidnot
supposeintentionally—subjectedhernaturetobowtohim;sosubmissivewas
she,thatitwasfullerhappinessforhertothinkhimrightinallhisactionsthan
toimaginethecircumstancesdifferent.Thismayappeartoresembletheecstasy


ofthedevoteeofJuggernaut,Itisaformofthepassioninspiredbylittleprinces,
andweneednotmarvelthataconservativesexshouldassisttokeepthemin
theirloftyplaces.Whatwerethereotherwisetolookupto?Weshouldhaveno
dazzlingbeacon-lightsiftheywerelevelledandtreatedasclodearth;anditis
worthwhileforhereandthereawomantobeburned,solongaswomen's
generaladorationofanidealyoungmanshallbepreserved.Purityisourdemand
ofthem.Theymayjustlycryforattraction.Theycannothaveitbrighterthanin
theuniversalbearingoftheeyesoftheirsistersuponalittleprince,onewhohas
theostensiblevirtuesinhispay,andcanpractisethemwithoutinjuringhimself
tomakehimselfunsightly.Lettheracesofmenbeby-and-byastonishedattheir
Gods,iftheyplease.Meantimetheyhadbettercontinuetoworship.
Laetitiadidcontinue.ShesawMissDurhamatPatterneonseveraloccasions.
Sheadmiredthepair.Shehadawishtowitnessthebridalceremony.Shewas
lookingforwardtothedaywiththatmixtureofeagernessandwithholdingwhich
wehaveaswedrawnighthedisenchantingterminationofanenchanting
romance,whenSirWilloughbymetheronaSundaymorning,asshecrossedhis
parksolitarilytochurch.Theywerewithintendaysoftheappointedceremony.
HeshouldhavebeenawayatMissDurham'sendofthecounty.Hehad,Laetitia
knew,riddenovertoherthedaybefore;buttherehewas;andveryunwontedly,
quitesurprisingly,hepresentedhisarmtoconductLaetitiatothechurch-door,
andtalkedandlaughedinawaythatremindedherofahuntinggentlemanshe
hadseenoncerisingtohisfeet,staggeringfromanuglyfallacrosshedgeand
fenceintooneofthelanesofhershortwinterwalks."All'swell,allsound,never
better,onlyascratch!"thegentlemanhadsaid,ashereeledandpresseda
bleedinghead.SirWilloughbychatteredofhisfelicityinmeetingher."Iam
reallywonderfullylucky,"hesaid,andhesaidthatandotherthingsoverand
over,incessantlytalking,andtellingananecdoteofcountyoccurrences,and
laughingatitwithamouththatwouldnotwiden.Hewentontalkinginthe
churchporch,andmurmuringsoftlysomestepsuptheaisle,passingthepewsof
Mrs.MountstuartJenkinsonandLadyBusshe.Ofcoursehewasentertaining,
butwhatastrangenessitwastoLaetitia!Hisfacewouldhavebeenhalfunderan
antiquebonnet.Itcameveryclosetohers,andthescrutinyhebentonherwas
mostsolicitous.
Aftertheservice,heavoidedthegreatladiesbysaunteringuptowithinayardor
twoofwhereshesat;hecravedherhandonhisarmtoleadherforthbythepark
entrancetothechurch,allthewhilebendingtoher,discoursingrapidly,
appearingradiantlyinterestedinherquietreplies,withfitsofintentnessthat


stareditselfoutintodimabstraction.Shehazardedthebriefestrepliesforfearof
nothavingunderstoodhim.
Onequestionsheasked:"MissDurhamiswell,Itrust?"
Andheanswered"Durham?"andsaid,"ThereisnoMissDurhamtomy
knowledge."
Theimpressionheleftwithherwas,thathemightyesterdayduringhisridehave
hadanaccidentandfallenonhishead.
Shewouldhaveaskedthat,ifshehadnotknownhimforsothoroughan
Englishman,inhisdisliketohaveitthoughtthataccidentscouldhurtevenwhen
theyhappenedtohim.
Hecalledthenextdaytoclaimherforawalk.Heassuredhershehadpromised
it,andheappealedtoherfather,whocouldnottestifytoapromisehehadnot
heard,butbeggedhertoleavehimtohaveherwalk.Sooncemoreshewasin
theparkwithSirWilloughby,listeningtohisrapturesoverolddays.Awordof
assentfromhersufficedhim."Iamnowmyself,"wasoneoftheremarkshe
repeatedthisday.ShedilatedonthebeautyoftheparkandtheHalltogratify
him.
HedidnotspeakofMissDurham,andLaetitiabecameafraidtomentionher
name.
Attheirparting,WilloughbypromisedLaetitiathathewouldcallonthemorrow.
Hedidnotcome;andshecouldwellexcusehim,afterherhearingofthetale.
Itwasalamentabletale.HehadriddentoSirJohnDurham'smansion,adistance
ofthirtymiles,tohear,onhisarrival,thatConstantiahadquittedherfather's
housetwodayspreviouslyonavisittoanauntinLondon,andhadjustsent
wordthatshewasthewifeofCaptainOxford,hussar,andmessmateofoneof
herbrothers.AletterfromthebrideawaitedWilloughbyattheHall.Hehad
riddenbackatnight,notcaringhowheusedhishorseinordertogetswiftly
home,soforgetfulofhimselfwasheundertheterribleblow.Thatwasthenight
ofSaturday.Onthedayfollowing,beingSunday,hemetLaetitiainhispark,led
hertochurch,ledheroutofit,andthedayafterthat,previoustohis
disappearanceforsomeweeks,waswalkingwithherinfullviewofthe
carriagesalongtheroad.


Hehad,indeed,yousee,beenveryfortunately,ifnotconsiderately,liberatedby
MissDurham.He,asamanofhonour,couldnothavetakentheinitiative,but
thefrenzyofajealousgirlmighturgehertosuchacourse;andhowlittlehe
sufferedfromithadbeenshowntotheworld.MissDurham,thestorywent,was
hismother'schoiceforhimagainsthisheart'sinclinations;whichhadfinally
subduedLadyPatterne.Consequently,therewasnolongeranobstaclebetween
SirWilloughbyandMissDale.Itwasapleasantandromanticstory,anditput
mostpeopleingoodhumourwiththecounty'sfavourite,ashischoiceofa
portionlessgirlofnopositionwouldnothavedonewithouttheshockof
astonishmentattheconductofMissDurham,andthedesiretofeelthatso
prevailingagentlemanwasnotinanydegreepitiable.Constantiawascalled
"thatmadthing".Laetitiabrokeforthinnovelandabundantmerits;andoneof
thechiefpointsofrequisitioninrelationtoPatterne—aLadyWilloughbywho
wouldentertainwellandanimatethedeadnessoftheHall,becameacertainty
whenhergentlenessandlivelinessandexceedingclevernesswereconsidered.
ShewasoftenavisitorattheHallbyLadyPatterne'sexpressinvitation,and
sometimesontheseoccasionsWilloughbywastheretoo,superintendingthe
fillingupofhislaboratory,thoughhewasnotathometothecounty;itwasnot
expectedthatheshouldbeyet.Hehadtakenheartilytothepursuitofscience,
andspokeoflittleelse.Science,hesaid,wasinourdaysthesoleobjectwortha
devotedpursuit.ButthesweepingremarkcouldhardlyapplytoLaetitia,of
whomhewasthecourteous,quietwooeryoubeholdwhenamanhasbroken
loosefromanunhappytangletoreturntotheladyofhisfirstandstrongest
affections.
Somemonthsofhomelycourtshipensued,andthen,thedecentinterval
prescribedbythesituationhavingelapsed,SirWilloughbyPatternelefthis
nativelandonatouroftheglobe.

CHAPTERIV
LAETITIADALE

Thatwasanothersurprisetothecounty.
Letusnotinquireintothefeelingsofpatientlystarvingwomen;theymustobtain
somesustenanceoftheirown,since,asyouperceive,theylive;evidentlythey


arenotinneedofagreatamountofnourishment;andwemaysetthemdownfor
creatureswitharush-lightofanimalfiretowarmthem.Theycannothavemuch
vitalitywhoaresolittleexclamatory.Acorrespondingsentimentofpatient
compassion,akintoscorn,isprovokedbypersonshavingtheopportunityfor
pathos,anddecliningtouseit.ThepublicbosomwasopentoLaetitiaforseveral
weeks,andhadsheruntoittobewailherselfshewouldhavebeencherishedin
thankfulnessforacountrydrama.Therewouldhavebeenapartyagainsther,
coldpeople,criticalofherpretensionstorisefromanunrecognizedspheretobe
mistressofPatterneHall,buttherewouldalsohavebeenapartyagainstSir
Willoughby,composedofthetwoorthreerevolutionists,tiredoftheyoke,
whicharetobefoundinEnglandwhenthereisastir;alargernumberofborn
sympathetics,everreadytoyieldthetearforthetear;andhereandtherea
Samaritansoulprompttosuccourpoorhumanityindistress.Theopportunity
passedundramatized.Laetitiapresentedherselfatchurchwithafacemildly
devout,accordingtohercustom,andsheacceptedinvitationstotheHall,she
assistedatthereadingofWilloughby'sletterstohisfamily,andfedondryhusks
ofhimwhereinhernamewasnotmentioned;neveronenoteofthesummoning
callforpathosdidthisyoungladyblow.
So,verysoonthepublicbosomclosed.Shehad,underthefreshinterpretationof
affairs,toosmallaspirittobeLadyWilloughbyofPatterne;shecouldnothave
entertainedbecomingly;hemusthaveseenthatthegirlwasnotthematchfor
himinstation,andoffhewenttoconquertheremainderofatroublesomefirst
attachment,nolongerextremelydisturbing,tojudgefromthetenourofhis
letters;reallyincomparableletters!LadyBussheandMrs.Mountstuart
Jenkinsonenjoyedaperusalofthem.SirWilloughbyappearedasasplendid
youngrepresentativeislandlordintheseletterstohisfamily,despatchedfrom
theprincipalcitiesoftheUnitedStatesofAmerica.Hewouldgivethemasketch
of"ourdemocraticcousins",hesaid.Suchcousins!Theymightallhavebeenin
theMarines.HecarriedhisEnglishstandardoverthatcontinent,andbysimply
jottingdownfacts,heleftanideaoftheresultsofthemeasurementtohisfamily
andfriendsathome.Hewasanadeptintheironyofincongruouslygrouping.
ThenatureoftheEqualityunderthestarsandstripeswaspresentedinthis
manner.Equality!Reflectionscameoccasionally:"Thesecousinsofoursare
highlyamusing.IamamongthedescendantsoftheRoundheads.Nowandthen
anallusiontoolddomesticdifferences,inperfectgoodtemper.Wegooninour
way;theytheirs,intheapparentbeliefthatRepublicanismoperatesremarkable
changesinhumannature.Vernontrieshardtothinkitdoes.Theuppertenofour
cousinsaretheInfernalofParis.TherestofthemisRadicalEngland,asfarasI


amacquaintedwiththatsectionofmycountry."—Wherewecompared,they
wereabsurd;wherewecontrasted,theyweremonstrous.Thecontrastof
Vernon'sletterswithWilloughby'swasjustasextreme.Youcouldhardlyhave
takenthemforrelativestravellingtogether,orVernonWhitfordforabornand
bredEnglishman.Thesamescenesfurnishedbythesetwopensmighthavebeen
sketchedindifferenthemispheres.Vernonhadnoirony.Hehadnothingof
Willoughby'sepistolarycreativepower,which,causinghisfamilyandfriendsto
exclaim:"Howlikehimthatis!"conjuredthemacrossthebroadAtlanticto
beholdandclaphandsathislordliness.
Theysawhimdistinctly,aswiththenakedeye;aword,aturnofthepen,ora
wordunsaid,offeredthepictureofhiminAmerica,Japan,China,Australia,nay,
thecontinentofEurope,holdinganEnglishreviewofhisMaker'sgrotesques.
Vernonseemedasheepishfellow,withoutstatureabroad,gladofacompliment,
gratefulforadinner,endeavouringsadlytodigestallhesawandheard.Butone
wasaPatterne;theotheraWhitford.Onehadgenius;theotherpotteredafter
himwiththetitleofstudent.OnewastheEnglishgentlemanwhereverhewent;
theotherwasanewkindofthing,nondescript,producedinEnglandoflate,and
notlikelytocometomuchgoodhimself,ordomuchgoodtothecountry.
Vernon'sdancinginAmericawascapitallydescribedbyWilloughby."Adieuto
ourcousins!"thelatterwroteonhisvoyagetoJapan."Imaypossiblyhavehad
somevogueintheirball-rooms,andinshowingthemanEnglishseaton
horseback:ImustresignmyselfifIhavenotbeenpopularamongthem.Icould
notsingtheirnationalsong—ifacongeryofstatesbeanation—andImust
confessIlistenedwithfrigidpolitenesstotheirsingingofit.Agreatpeople,no
doubt.Adieutothem.IhavehadtotearoldVernonaway.Hehadserious
thoughtsofsettling,meanstocorrespondwithsomeofthem."Onthewhole,
forgettingtwoormore"traitsofinsolence"onthepartofhishosts,whichhe
cited,Willoughbyescapedprettycomfortably.ThePresidenthadbeen,
consciouslyornot,uncivil,butoneknewhisorigin!Upontheseinterjections,
placableflicksofthelionlytailaddressedtoBritanniatheRuler,whoexpected
himinsomemildishwaytolashtergacaudainretiring,SirWilloughbyPatterne
passedfromalandofalienmanners;andeverafterhespokeofAmerica
respectfullyandpensively,withatailtuckedin,asitwere.Histravelswere
profitabletohimself.Thefactis,thattherearecousinswhocometogreatness
andmustbepacified,ortheywillproveannoying.Heavenforefendacollision
betweencousins!


WilloughbyreturnedtohisEnglandafteranabsenceofthreeyears.Onafair
Aprilmorning,thelastofthemonth,hedrovealonghisparkpalings,and,bythe
luckofthings,Laetitiawasthefirstofhisfriendswhomhemet.Shewas
crossingfromfieldtofieldwithabandofschool-children,gatheringwild
flowersforthemorrowMay-day.Hesprangtothegroundandseizedherhand.
"LaetitiaDale!"hesaid.Hepanted."YournameissweetEnglishmusic!And
youarewell?"Theanxiousquestionpermittedhimtoreaddeeplyinhereyes.
Hefoundthemanhesoughtthere,squeezedhimpassionately,andlethergo,
saying:"Icouldnothaveprayedforalovelierhome-scenetowelcomemethan
youandthesechildrenflower-gathering.Idon'tbelieveinchance.Itwasdecreed
thatweshouldmeet.Donotyouthinkso?"
Laetitiabreathedfaintlyofhergladness.
Hebeggedhertodistributeagoldcoinamongthelittleones;askedforthe
namesofsomeofthem,andrepeated:"Mary,Susan,Charlotte—onlythe
Christiannames,pray!Well,mydears,youwillbringyourgarlandstotheHall
to-morrowmorning;andmind,early!noslugabedstomorrow;IsupposeIam
browned,Laetitia?"Hesmiledinapologyfortheforeignsun,andmurmured
withrapture:"ThegreenofthisEnglishcountryisunsurpassed.Itiswonderful.
LeaveEnglandandbebaked,ifyouwouldappreciateit.Youcan't,unlessyou
tasteexileasIhavedone—forhowmanyyears?Howmany?"
"Three,"saidLaetitia.
"Thirty!"saidhe."Itseemstomethatlength.Atleast,Iamimmenselyolder.
Butlookingatyou,Icouldthinkitlessthanthree.Youhavenotchanged.You
areabsolutelyunchanged.Iamboundtohopeso.Ishallseeyousoon.Ihave
muchtotalkof,muchtotellyou.Ishallhastentocallonyourfather.Ihave
speciallytospeakwithhim.I—whathappinessthisis,Laetitia!ButImustnot
forgetIhaveamother.Adieu;forsomehours—notformany!"
Hepressedherhandagain.Hewasgone.
Shedismissedthechildrentotheirhomes.Pluckingprimroseswashardlabour
now—adustybusiness.Shecouldhavewishedthatherplanethadnot
descendedtoearth,hispresenceagitatedherso;buthisenthusiasticpatriotism
waslikeashowerthat,intheSpringseasonoftheyear,sweepsagainstthehardbindingEastandmeltstheairandbringsoutnewcolours,makeslifeflow;and


herthoughtsrecurredinwondermenttothebehaviourofConstantiaDurham.
ThatwasLaetitia'smanneroftakingupherweaknessoncemore.Shecould
almosthavereviledthewomanwhohadgiventhisbeneficentmagician,this
patheticexile,ofthearistocraticsunburnedvisageanddeeplyscrutinizingeyes,
causeforgrief.Howdeeplyhiseyescouldread!Thestarvelingofpatience
awoketotheideaofafeast.Thesenseofhungercamewithit,andhopecame,
andpatiencefled.Shewouldhaverejectedhopetokeeppatiencenighher;but
surelyitcannotalwaysbeWinter!saidherreasoningblood,andwemust
excuseherasbestwecanifshewasassured,byherrestoredwarmththat
Willoughbycameintheorderoftherevolvingseasons,markingalongWinter
past.Hehadspeciallytospeakwithherfather,hehadsaid.Whatcouldthat
mean?What,but—Shedarednotphraseitorviewit.
Attheirnextmeetingshewas"MissDale".
Aweeklaterhewasclosetedwithherfather.
Mr.Dale,intheeveningofthatpregnantday,eulogizedSirWilloughbyasa
landlord.Anewleaseofthecottagewastobegrantedhimontheoldterms,he
said.ExceptthatSirWilloughbyhadcongratulatedhiminthepossessionofan
excellentdaughter,theirinterviewwasoneoflandlordandtenant,itappeared;
andLaetitiasaid,"Soweshallnothavetoleavethecottage?"inatoneof
satisfaction,whileshequietlygaveawrenchtotheneckoftheyounghopein
herbreast.Atnightherdiaryreceivedtheline:"ThisdayIwasafool.Tomorrow?"
To-morrowandmanydaysafterwardsthereweredashesinsteadofwords.
Patiencetravelledbacktohersullenly.Aswemusthavesomekindoffood,and
shehadnothingelse,shetooktothatandfounditdryerthanofyore.Itisa
composingbutaleandietary.Thedeadarepatient,andwegetacertainlikeness
totheminfeedingonitunintermittinglyoverlong.Herhollowedcheekswiththe
fallenleafinthempleadedagainstherselftojustifyheridolfornotlooking
downononelikeher.ShesawhimwhenhewasattheHall.Hedidnotnotice
anychange.Hewasexceedinglygentleandcourteous.Morethanonceshe
discoveredhiseyesdwellingonher,andthenhelookedhurriedlyathismother,
andLaetitiahadtoshuthermindfromthinking,lestthinkingshouldbeasinand
hopeaguiltyspectre.Buthadhismotherobjectedtoher?Shecouldnotavoid
askingherself.Histouroftheglobehadbeenundertakenathismother'sdesire;


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