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“He little knew
The power of magic was no fable.”

The closest friendship of Lisle's youth was with Arthur
Clifford, his classmate. This young man died in the midst
of his college career, leaving to his contemporary students a
memory to be loved and honored to the end of their lives;
and leaving his mother's friendship to Archibald, a richer
legacy than much fine gold. The subjoined extracts are
from a letter to this lady, written, as it appears, soon after
Eleanor's marriage.

“Miss Alice requests me, you say, to describe my friend
Esterly's wedding. Alas! I have no story to tell; business
intervened, and took me out of town, and thus saved all
parties from my blundering performance of the office of

“Love and Reason, antagonisms in the common courts of
love, have shaken hands over this union of my friends.
God hath joined them together, and whatever be the friction
of life, their bonds will grow stronger.”

“Once for all, my dear friend, I entreat you to dismiss
certain `pleasant fancies,' as you truly call them. Love and
Reason can have no conjunction there. That `bright particular
star' does not shine for me, a country-bred lad, out of
sorts with the uses of the fine world. Your feminine allusion


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to Endymion and the moon will not do. That myth is no
type for this prosaic day of ours. The radiant flood of
feminine majesty falls only on high places. I seldom see
Miss H., and have no reason to believe that she remembers
my existence, in the intervals of our meeting.”

“You ask me about my business concerns: they are prospering.
My senior partner's malady proving of an incurable
nature, he has manfully retired at once, and so commended
me to his clients, that I retain a considerable proportion of
the business of the office. This, as my good father would
say, is providential. My young brothers need my aid;
were I alone concerned I could await patiently the sure
results of industry in my profession. As it is, I take the accidents
of fortune greedily and gratefully. Should you find
them tempting me out of my modesty, or my simple habits,
save me, dear friend, by your timely warning. With my
love and a kiss to dear little Alice—yours faithfully,

“A. L.”
“P.S. Don't, Miss Alice, turn on me the disdainful
shoulder of a Miss in her teens. The Alice of my memory
is a Hebe girl of ten, with lips bright and sweet as an opening
carnation, frankly upturned to meet mine.”

A keen-scented reader will perceive that Archibald Lisle
did not tell the whole truth to his friend. He coolly said
what he believed the “intervals of their meeting were to
Miss Herbert.” He did not even hint at what they were to

His life had been too full of earnest work for those fancies
that flit over the youth of most men, as ephemeral as the
insect life of a summer's day. Lisle, like other men, had
his ideal—ideals vary! But he was not like other men, who,
being as foolish, if not as mad as Don Quixote, shape the
actual to the ideal, and, while Puck's unction lasts, are happy


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in the illusion. Lisle's ideal was verified in the beauty (an
element in all young men's ideals) the bright intelligence,
the loftiness, the unworldliness, and the fearless sincerity of
Grace. Still it had but faintly shadowed the indefinable
charm that spell-bound him. Her image haunted him, filled
his world, banishing even himself from it. It followed him
to the thoroughfares of business, so that often briefs, depositions,
and all documents under the “lawyer's barbarous
pen,” were dim to his incorporate sense. If he read an exciting
poem, if he saw a picture that charmed him, his first
thought was, “what would she think of it?” In short, her
vitality was infused into whatever “touched his soul to
finest issues.” Beware, Archibald Lisle! Rebuke hope as
you will! heap on the ashes of your reserve as you may,
the fire covered and hidden, is becoming more intense, the
danger more imminent!

Most women are the first to detect the love they inspire.
Grace did not in this case. Perhaps her perceptions were
dulled by the confident and self-complacent demonstration
of most of her admirers, or were restrained by the rebuke
to her vanity in her sister's affair. She might have been
misled by her Uncle Walter's frequent reiterations that he
could not get Lisle to the house. “The scamp knows I
love him,” he said, “and Mrs. Herbert, at my request, has
been civil to him, but he will not come to us. Why the
deuce, Grace, don't you beam on him, for my sake?”

“I have done my best, Uncle Walter, both for your sake
and my own; for a clever man is a rare bird in our precincts.
Did I not heartily concur in Frank's wish that Mr.
Lisle should be his groomsman, and he consented; and we
rehearsed the performance of our joint office; and on the
very morning of the wedding came a note, saying that business
compelled him to leave town—cool, I thought!”

Much involuntary injustice is done in this world, in small


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as well as great matters. The “business” to which there
was a mere allusion in Lisle's letter to Mrs. Clifford was a
most inopportune journey to a distant part of New England,
where Mrs. Clifford's only son was placed at an academy.
He had written to Lisle—“For heaven's sake, dear Archy,
come here without delay; I am in trouble—nothing but a
boy's scrape, as you will see, but if dear mother knows it,
she will think it as bad as murder. You can set all right
with the master in half an hour, and she need never break
her heart over it.”

Lisle's interposition availed, and it was characteristic of
him to say nothing of it to Mrs. Clifford, and not to hint at
what cost of sweet expectations he had sacrificed his proximity
to Grace, at her sister's wedding.

Archibald Lisle was reserved, perhaps to a fault. Certainly
he was in strong contrast to our self-complacent young
ladies and gentlemen who pour out their personalities to
every willing and unwilling ear; emulating in their narrow
orbit the spontaneous confidence of certain popular writers,
who make a “clean breast” of it to the reading public, and
write down and print every emotion and every throb of passion
as unreservedly as if talking to their bosom-friend, and
as coolly as they would register the rise and fall of the

The accidents of life had confirmed the reserve which was
in the very fibre of Lisle's character. The mother is the
natural confident of the child. His died in his early youth,
and though her love for him was immeasurable, she was, like
our New England women who are not softened and developed
by society, undemonstrative; and his father, a plain, sensible
working man, had little beyond his probity and kind-heartedness,
that answered to his son's gifted nature. He married
again, promptly, after the death of Archibald's mother; a
second brood followed, but were not permitted to interfere


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with his “first companion's” dying injunction, that her son
should be educated (sent to college) cost what it might.
Mistress Lisle had never propounded the rights or wrongs
of women—perhaps she had never heard of them—but living
or dead her behests were obeyed by her meek husband,
who devoted his spare gains to advantages—that all-comprehending
Yankee term—for her son. His pursuits and associations
raised him above the home sphere, and threw him
into conscious isolation. He was too generous to seek the
society that would widen the distance between him and his
father's intimates, the mechanics and farmers of a rural
district. We are all free and equal—all republicans—all
democrats. There are no recognized gradations of rank;
but they are felt and measured with microscopic accuracy.
Where are they unknown, except, as Sir Walter said,
among the Hottentots?

The cravings for intimacy and affection are not dulled,
but made more intense by a reserved nature. Archibald's
were appeased by Arthur Clifford's friendship. He was
deprived of this by his friend's early death, and he came
to our great city to struggle alone, without fellowship or
sympathy. “Every Englishman is an island,” says Emerson.
Lisle was a fortified island; but the hour and the
woman came, and before the magic of a correspondent
nature, the tide swept in and swept out; still the barriers
that nature had set, and habit maintained, stood, and not a
human being knew he loved Grace Herbert—not Mrs. Clifford,
his most confidential correspondent—not Uncle Walter,
who, in his own genial nature had an open “sessame” to every
other chamber of Archibald's heart. No one suspected it—
except one poor little obscure girl! A loving woman has a
subtlety of perception almost preternatural.

Life went on. Lisle's summer, with the exception of a
short visit to his father, was spent in heated court-rooms and


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in his office in Wall-street. His sphere scarcely touched
Grace Herbert's, but from that illuminated world he had
some flashes of intelligence through Walter Herbert, whose
frequent pleasure it was to drop in upon his younger friend.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,”
and he seldom came and went without some mention of

“Grace,” he said, “has taken to studying the old English
poets. I studied them, too, when I was a college-lad, and
loved them, and love them yet better than our befogged,
transcendental cotemporaries; it needs a nautical eye to see
your way through them. We always love best what we read
in our youth. You never heard Grace read, Lisle? The
poets might turn out of heaven to hear her read their
verses. Her voice is the most delicious sound I ever heard.
Ah, Lisle, I come to you for comfort. Our house is desolate.
My child has gone off to Saratoga, with Mrs. Herbert
and her daughter—my good and my evil spirits gone together!
The girls are making what the gentry there call
`a sensation.' Anne is in her right niche, `made to order'
for a watering place; but poor Grace frets in the harness.
Her rich Philadelphia suitor has followed her there. He'll
not take `No,' thrice said, for an answer.”

The summer passed, and autumn came.

“There's a rare young Englishman in town,” said Uncle
Walter; “modest, not shy.”

“The Honorable Melbourne Grey?”

“The same. Do you know him?”

“Yes, I met him at our club, and had the pleasure of
showing him our courts.”

“Ah! I see him in another sort of court. A secret,
Archy—you are my safety-valve. I think he is on his knees
to Grace. I trust in heaven she'll let him stay there. I
can't lose my child; and, though he's a fine fellow, with family


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and fortune, and all that, and all that, yet I don't fancy
Grace going where she would be received upon sufferance—
looked down upon as an American, and have to follow into
dinner at the tail of trumpery Lady This and Lady That.
No, my Grace is a queen in her own right.” This time Mr.
Herbert left poor Lisle with a bitter cud to chew.

But in a few days more he came into the inner office with
his sunniest aspect. “The Honorable Grey has gone,” he
said, “`with a flea in his ear.' I don't quite see into Grace—
women are tickle tackle. I am afraid there are breakers
ahead. I hate the sight of Horace Copley!”

Months followed, marked by a few incidents, soon forgotten
by Grace, but making epochs in Lisle's life. He had
been taking a sporting stroll on Long Island, and brought
home with him the sweetest things of our spring woodlands,
the creeping arbutus, early violets, and anemones. He sent
them to Miss Herbert, and calling to see her the next evening,
she naturally adverted to his “lovely spring flowers.”
He asked her if she had observed among the blue violets a
few white ones, of a species new to him, and fragrant. She
had not, and ringing the bell, directed John to bring down
a bouquet from her library-table. John returned with a
bouquet of exotics, marketable flowers! “O! not that,
John,” exclaimed Grace; “I told you my library-table.”

“Why, so you did, Miss Grace; but I kind of did not
realize, and thought it was the bouquet Mr. Copley sent on
Thursday, and was carried up to your own room.”

He left Grace blushing at certain natural inferences from
his excuse, and returned with poor Archy's flowers, drooping
and hanging their pretty heads, it would seem in silent
sympathy with his sinking heart.

“Oh! Mr. Lisle,” exclaimed Grace, “I am ashamed! I forgot
to put water in the vase. You may carry them away,
John—we can't tell the white violets from the blue.”


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“Copley's flowers were sent on Thursday,” thought Lisle,
“and are as fresh now as then; mine, plucked yesterday,
are dead!”

Sterile months passed away, and one happy evening came.
Lisle passed it alone with Grace and her uncle. It lighted
up weeks of life for him. “Uncle Walter” was supremely
happy—Grace electrifying. There was not a disagreement,
a discordant note. The last new books were spoken of—
Tennyson's last poem. Lisle made a remark upon it that
particularly struck and pleased Grace. She repeatedly adverted
to it in the course of the evening. Not two months
after, in a society where they met, Grace said, quoting his
remark, “Somebody, I can't recall who, said so-and-so to

Lisle had not forgotten a word she uttered that evening,
nor a shade of her expression.