University of Virginia Library




“Common as light is love,
And its familiar voice wearies not ever.”


Tom Fane's four Canadian ponies were whizzing his light
phæton through the sand at a rate that would have put spirits
into anything but a lover absent from his mistress. The “heaven-kissing”
pines towered on every side like the thousand and
one columns of the Palæologi at Constantinople; their flat and
spreading tops shutting out the light of heaven almost as effectually
as the world of mussulmans, mosques, kiosks, bazars, and
Giaours, sustained on those innumerable capitals, darkens the
subterranean wonder of Stamboul. An American pine forest is
as like a temple, and a sublime one, as any dream that ever entered
into the architectural brain of the slumbering Martin. The
Yankee methodists in their camp-meetings, have but followed an
irresistible instinct to worship God in the religious dimness of
these interminable aisles of the wilderness.

Tom Fane and I had stoned the storks together in the palace
of Crœsus at Sardis. We had read Anastasius on a mufti's tomb
in the Nekropolis of Scutari. We had burned with fig-fevers in
the same caravanserai at Smyrna. We had cooled our hot foreheads


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and cursed the Greeks in emulous Romaic in the dim tomb
of Agamemnon at Argos. We had been grave at Paris, and
merry at Rome; and we had pic-nic'd with the beauties of the
Fanar in the Valley of Sweet Waters in pleasant Roumelia; and
when, after parting in France, he had returned to England and
his regiment, and I to New England and law, whom should I
meet in a summer's trip to the St. Lawrence but Captain Tom
Fane of the — th, quartered at the cliff-perched and doughty
garrison of Quebec, and ready for any “lark” that would vary
the monotony of duty!

Having eaten seven mess-dinners, driven to the falls of Montmorenci,
and paid my respects to Lord Dalhousie, the hospitable
and able governor of the Canadas, Quebec had no longer a temptation:
and obeying a magnet, of which more anon, I announced
to Fane that my traps were packed, and my heart sent on, a
l'avant courier,
to Saratoga.

“Is she pretty?” said Tom.

“As the starry-eyed Circassian we gazed at through the grill
in the slave-market at Constantinople!”—(Heaven and my mistress
forgive me for the comparison!—but it conveyed more to
Tom Fane than a folio of more respectful similitudes.)

“Have you any objection to be drawn to your lady-love by
four cattle that would buy the soul of Osbaldiston?”

“`Objection!' quotha?”

The next morning, four double-jointed and well-groomed ponies
were munching their corn in the bow of a steamer, upon the St.
Lawrence, wondering possibly what, in the name of Bucephalus,
had set the hills and churches flying at such a rate down the river.
The hills and churches came to a stand-still with the steamer
opposite Montreal, and the ponies were landed and put to their


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mettle for some twenty miles, where they were destined to be astonished
by a similar flying phenomenon in the mountains girding
the lengthening waters of Lake Champlain. Landed at Ticonderoga,
a few miles' trot brought them to Lake George and a
third steamer, and, with a winding passage among green islands
and overhanging precipices, loaded like a harvest-wagon with
vegetation, we made our last landing on the edge of the pine forest,
where our story opens.

“Well, I must object,” says Tom, setting his whip in the
socket, and edging round upon his driving-box, “I must object
to this republican gravity of yours. I should take it for melancholy,
did I not know it was the `complexion' of your never-smiling

“Spare me, Tom! `I see a hand you cannot see.' Talk to
your ponies, and let me be miserable, if you love me.”

“For what, in the name of common sense? Are you not
within five hours of your mistress? Is not this cursed sand your
natal soil? Do not

`The pine-boughs sing
Old songs with new gladness?'
and in the years that we have dangled about, `here-and-thereians'
together, were you ever before grave, sad, or sulky? and
will you without a precedent, and you a lawyer, inflict your stupidity
upon me for the first time in this waste and being-less
solitude? Half an hour more of the dread silence of this forest,
and it will not need the horn of Astolpho to set me irremediably

“If employment will save your wits, you may invent a scheme
for marrying the son of a poor gentleman to the ward of a rich
trader in rice and molasses.”


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“The programme of our approaching campaign, I presume?”


“Is the lady willing?”

“I would fain believe so.”

“Is Mr. Popkins unwilling?”

“As the most romantic lover could desire.”

“And the state of the campaign?”

“Why, thus: Mr. George Washington Jefferson Frump, whom
you have irreverently called Mr. Popkins, is sole guardian to the
daughter of a dead West Indian planter, of whom he was once the
agent. I fell in love with Kate Lorimer from description, when
she was at school with my sister, saw her by favor of a garden-wall,
and after the usual vows—”

“Too romantic for a Yankee, by half!”

“—Proposed by letter to Mr. Frump.”

“Oh, bathos!”

“He refused me.”


Imprimis, I was not myself in the `sugar line,' and in secundis,
my father wore gloves and `did nothing for a living'—two
blots in the eyes of Mr. Frump, which all the waters of Niagara
would never wash from my escutcheon.”

“And what the devil hindered you from running off with her?”

“Fifty shares in the Manhattan Insurance Company, a gold
mine in Florida, Heaven knows how many hogsheads of treacle,
and a million of acres on the banks of the Missouri.”

“`Pluto's flame-colored daughter' defend us! what a living
El Dorado!”

“All of which she forfeits if she marries without old Frump's


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“I see—I see! And this Io and her Argus are now drinking
the waters at Saratoga?”

“Even so.”

“I'll bet you my four-in-hand to a sonnet, that I get her for
you before the season is over.”

“Money and all?”

“Mines, molasses, and Missouri acres!”

“And if you do, Tom, I'll give you a team of Virginian bloods
that would astonish Ascot, and throw you into the bargain a forgiveness
for riding over me with your camel on the banks of the

“Santa Maria! do you remember that spongy foot stepping
over your frontispiece? I had already cast my eyes up to Mont
Sypilus to choose a clean niche for you out of the rock-hewn
tombs of the kings of Lydia. I thought you would sleep with
Alyattis, Phil!”

We dashed on through dark forest and open clearing, through
glens of tangled cedar and wild vine, over log bridges, corduroy
marshes, and sand-hills, till, toward evening, a scattering shanty
or two, and an occasional sound of a woodman's axe, betokened
our vicinity to Saratoga. A turn around a clump of tall pines
brought us immediately into the broad street of the village, and
the flaunting shops, the overgrown, unsightly hotels, riddled with
windows like honey combs, the fashionable idlers out for their
evening lounge to the waters, the indolent smokers on the colonnades,
and the dusty and loaded coaches driving from door to
door in search of lodgings, formed the usual evening picture of
the Bath of America.

As it was necessary to Tom's plan that my arrival at Saratoga
should not be known, he pulled up at a small tavern at the entrance


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of the street, and dropping me and my baggage, drove on
to Congress Hall, with my best prayers, and a letter of introduction
to my sister, whom I had left on her way to the Springs with
a party at my departure for Montreal. Unwilling to remain in
such a tantalizing vicinity, I hired a chaise the next morning, and
despatching a note to Tom, drove to seek a retreat at Barhydt's
—a spot that cannot well be described in the tail of a paragraph.

Herr Barhydt is an old Dutch settler, who, till the mineral
springs of Saratoga were discovered some five miles from his
door, was buried in the depth of a forest solitude, unknown to all
but the prowling Indian. The sky is supported above him (or
looks to be) by a wilderness of straight, columnar pine shafts,
gigantic in girth, and with no foliage except at the top, where
they branch out like round tables spread for a banquet in the
clouds. A small ear-shaped lake, sunk as deep into the earth as
the firs shoot above it, black as Erebus in the dim shadow of its
hilly shore and the obstructed light of the trees that nearly meet
over it, and clear and unbroken as a mirror, save the pearl-spots
of the thousand lotuses holding up their cups to the blue eye of
heaven that peers through the leafy vault, sleeps beneath his
window; and around him, in the forest, lies, still unbroken, the
elastic and brown carpet of the faded pine tassels, deposited in
yearly layers since the continent rose from the flood, and rooted a
foot beneath the surface to a rich mould that would fatten the
Sympleglades to a flower-garden. With his black tarn well
stocked with trout, his bit of a farm in the clearing near by, and
an old Dutch bible, Herr Barhydt lived a life of Dutch musing,
talked Dutch to his geese and chickens, sung Dutch psalms to the
echoes of the mighty forest, and, except on his far-between visits
to Albany, which grew rarer and rarer as the old Dutch inhabitants


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dropped faster away, saw never a white human face from one
maple-blossoming to another.

A roving mineralogist tasted the waters of Saratoga, and, like
the work of a lath-and-plaster Aladdin, up sprung a thriving village
around the fountain's lip, and hotels, tin tumblers, and
apothecaries, multiplied in the usual proportion to each other,
but out of all precedent, with everything else for rapidity.
Libraries, newspapers, churches, livery stables, and lawyers, followed
in their train; and it was soon established, from the plains
of Abraham to the savannahs of Alabama, that no person of
fashionable taste or broken constitution could exist through the
months of July and August without a visit to the chalybeate
springs and populous village of Saratoga. It contained seven
thousand inhabitants before Herr Barhydt, living in his wooded
seclusion only five miles off, became aware of its existence. A
pair of lovers, philandering about the forest on horseback, popped
in upon him one June morning, and thenceforth there was no rest
for the soul of the Dutchman. Everybody rode down to eat his
trout and make love in the dark shades of his mirrored lagoon;
and at last, in self-defence, he added a room or two to his shanty,
enclosed his cabbage-garden, and put a price upon his trout-dinners.
The traveller now-a-days who has not dined at Barhydt's
with his own champagne cold from the tarn, and the white-headed
old settler “gargling” Dutch about the house, in his manifold
vocation of cook, ostler, and waiter, may as well not have seen

Installed in the back-chamber of the old man's last addition to
his house, with Barry Cornwall and Elia (old fellow-travellers of
mine), a rude chair, a ruder, but clean bed, and a troop of
thoughts so perpetually from home, that it mattered very little


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what was the complexion of anything about me, I waited Tom's
operations with a lover's usual patience. Barhydt's visitors seldom
arrived before two or three o'clock, and the long, soft mornings,
quiet as a shadowy Elysium on the rim of that ebon lake,
were as solitary as a melancholy man could desire. Didst thou but
know, oh! gentle Barry Cornwall! how gratefully thou hast been
read and mused upon in those dim and whispering aisles of the
forest, three thousand and more miles from thy smoky whereabout,
methinks it would warm up the flush of pleasure around thine
eyelids, though the “golden-tressed Adelaide!” were waiting her
good-night kisses at thy knee!

I could stand it no longer. On the second evening of my
seclusion, I made bold to borrow old Barhydt's superannuated
roadster, and getting up the steam with infinite difficulty in his
ricketty engine, higgled away, with a pace to which I could not
venture to affix a name, to the gay scenes of Saratoga.

It was ten o'clock when I dismounted at the stable in Congress
Hall, and giving der Teufel, as the old man ambitiously styled his
steed, to the hands of the ostler, stole round through the garden
to the eastern colonnade.

I feel called upon to describe “Congress Hall.” Some fourteen
or fifteen millions of white gentlemen and ladies consider
that wooden and windowed Babylon as the proper palace of
Delight—a sojourn to be sighed for, and sacrificed for, and economized
for—the birthplace of Love, the haunt of Hymen, the
arena of Fashion—a place without which a new lease of life were
valueless—for which, if the conjuring cap of King Erricus itself
could not furnish a season ticket, it might lie on a lady's toilet as
unnoticed as a bride's night-cap a twelvemonth after marriage.
I say to myself, sometimes, as I pass the window at White's, and


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see a world-sick worlding with the curl of satiety and disgust on
his lip, wondering how the next hour will come to its death, “If
you but knew, my friend, what a campaign of pleasure you are
losing in America—what belles than the bluebell slighter and
fairer—what hearts than the dewdrops fresher and clearer are living
their pretty hour, like gems undived for in the ocean—what
loads of foliage, what Titans of trees, what glorious wildernesses
of rocks and waters, are lavishing their splendors on the clouds
that sail over them, and all within the magic circle of which Congress
Hall is the centre, and which a circling dove would measure
to get an appetite for his breakfast—if you but knew this, my
lord, as I know it, you would not be gazing so vacantly on the
steps of Crockford's, nor consider `the graybeard' such a laggard
in his hours!”

Congress Hall is a wooden building, of which the size and
capacity could never be definitely ascertained. It is built on a
slight elevation, just above the strongly-impregnated spring
whose name it bears, with little attempt at architecture, save a
spacious and vine-covered colonnade, serving as a promenade on
either side, and two wings, the extremities of which are lost in
the distance. A relic or two of the still-astonished forest towers
above the chimneys, in the shape of a melancholy group of firs;
and, five minutes' walk from the door, the dim old wilderness
stands looking down on the village in its primeval grandeur, like
the spirits of the wronged Indians, whose tracks are scarce vanished
from the sand. In the strength of the summer solstice,
from five hundred to a thousand people dine together at Congress
Hall, and after absorbing as many bottles of the best wines of
the world, a sunset promenade plays the valve to the sentiment
thus generated, and, with a cup of tea, the crowd separates to


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dress for the nightly ball. There are several other hotels in the
village, equally crowded and equally spacious, and the ball is
given alternately at each. Congress Hall is the “crack” place,
however, and I expect that Mr. Westcott, the obliging proprietor,
will give me the preference of rooms, on my next annual visit, for
this just and honorable mention.

The dinner-tables were piled into an orchestra, and draped
with green baize and green wreaths, the floor of the immense hall
was chalked with American flags and the initials of all the heroes
of the Revolution, and the band were playing a waltz in a style
that made the candles quiver, and the pines tremble audibly in
their tassels. The ball-room was on the ground floor, and the colonnade
upon the garden side was crowded with spectators, a row
of grinning black fellows edging the cluster of heads at every
window, and keeping time with their hands and feet in the irresistible
sympathy of their music-loving natures. Drawing my
hat over my eyes, I stood at the least-thronged window, and concealing
my face in the curtain, waited impatiently for the appearance
of the dancers.

The bevy in the drawing-room was sufficiently strong at last,
and the lady patronesses, handed in by a state governor or two,
and here and there a member of congress, achieved the entre with
their usual intrepidity. Followed beaux and followed belles.
Such belles! Slight, delicate, fragile-looking creatures, elegant
as Retzsch's angels, warm-eyed as Mohammedan houries, yet
timid as the antelope whose hazel orbs they eclipse, limbed like
nothing earthly except an American woman—I would rather not
go on! When I speak of the beauty of my countrywomen, my
heart swells. I do believe the New World has a newer mould for
its mothers and daughters. I think I am not prejudiced. I have


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been years away. I have sighed in France; I have loved in
Italy; I have bargained for Circassians in an eastern bezestein,
and I have lounged at Howell and James's on a sunny day in the
season; and my eye is trained, and my perceptions quickened:
but I do think (honor bright! and Heath's “Book of Beauty”
forgiving me) that there is no such beautiful work of God under
the arch of the sky as an American girl in her bellehood.

Enter Tom Fane in a Stultz coat and Sparding tights, looking
as a man who had been the mirror of Bond street might be supposed
to look, a thousand leagues from his club-house. She
leaned on his arm. I had never seen her half so lovely. Fresh
and calm from the seclusion of her chamber, her transparent
cheek was just tinged with the first mounting blood, from the
excitement of lights and music. Her lips were slightly parted,
her fine-lined eyebrows were arched with a girlish surprise, and
her ungloved arm lay carelessly and confidingly within his, as
white, round, and slender, as if Canova had wrought it in Parian
for his Psyche. If you have never seen a beauty of northern
blood nurtured in a southern clime, the cold fairness of her race
warmed up as if it had been steeped in some golden sunset, and
her deep blue eye darkened and filled with a fire as unnaturally
resplendent as the fusion of crysoprase into a diamond, and if you
have never known the corresponding contrast in the character,
the intelligence and constancy of the north kindling with the
enthusiasm and impulse, the passionateness and the abandon of
a more burning latitude—you have seen nothing, let me insinuate,
though you “have been i' the Indies twice,” that could give
you an idea of Kate Lorimer.

She waltzed, and then Tom danced with my sister, and then,
resigning her to another partner, he offered his arm again to Miss


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Lorimer, and left the ball room with several other couples for a
turn in the fresh air of the colonnade. I was not jealous, but I
felt unpleasantly at his returning to her so immediately. He
was the handsomest man, out of all comparison, in the room, and
he had dimmed my star too often in our rambles in Europe and
Asia, not to suggest a thought, at least, that the same pleasant
eclipse might occur in our American astronomy. I stepped off
the colonnade, and took a turn in the garden.

Those “children of eternity,” as Walter Savage Landor poetically
calls “the breezes,” performed their soothing ministry upon
my temples, and I replaced Tom in my confidence with an heroic
effort, and turned back. A swing hung between two gigantic
pines, just under the balustrade, and flinging myself into the
cushioned seat, I abandoned myself to the musings natural to a
person “in my situation.” The sentimentalizing promenaders
lounged backward and forward above me, and not hearing Tom's
drawl among them, I presumed he had returned to the ball-room.
A lady and gentleman, walking in silence, stopped presently, and
leaned upon the railing opposite the swing. They stood a moment,
looking into the dim shadow of the pine-grove, and then a
voice, that I knew better than my own, remarked in a low and
silvery tone upon the beauty of the night.

She was not answered, and after a moment's pause, as if
resuming a conversation that had been interrupted, she turned
very earnestly to her companion, and asked, “Are you sure,
quite sure, that you could venture to marry without a fortune?”

“Quite, dear Miss Lorimer!”

I started from the swing, but before the words of execration
that rushed choking from my heart could struggle to my lips,
they had mingled with the crowd and vanished.


Page 147

I strode down the garden-walk in a phrensy of passion.
Should I call him immediately to account? Should I rush into
the ball-room and accuse him of his treachery to her face?
Should I drown myself in old Barhydt's tarn, or join an Indian
tribe, and make war upon the whites? Or should I—could I—
be magnanimous—and write him a note immediately, offering to
be his groomsman at the wedding?

I stepped into the punch-room, asked for pen, ink, and paper,
and indited the following note:—

Dear Tom: If your approaching nuptials are to be sufficiently
public to admit of a groomsman, you will make me the happiest
of friends by selecting me for that office.

“Yours ever truly,


Having despatched it to his room, I flew to the stable, roused
der Teufel, who had gathered up his legs in the straw for the
night, flogged him furiously out of the village, and giving him the
rein as he entered the forest, enjoyed the scenery in the humor
of mad old Hieronymo in the Spanish tragedy—“the moon
dark, the stars extinct, the winds blowing, the owls shrieking, the
toads croaking, the minutes jarring, and the clock striking

Early the next day Tom's “tiger” dismounted at Barhydt's
door, with an answer to my note, as follows:—

Dear Phil: The devil must have informed you of a secret
I supposed safe from all the world. Be assured I should have
chosen no one but yourself to support me on the occasion; and
however you have discovered my design upon your treasure, a


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thousand thanks for your generous consent. I expected no less
from your noble nature.

“Yours devotedly,

“P. S.—I shall endeavor to be at Barhydt's, with materials for
the fifth act of our comedy, to-morrow morning.”

“`Comedy!' call you this, Mr. Fane?” I felt my heart turn
black as I threw down the letter. After a thousand plans of
revenge formed and abandoned—borrowing old Barhydt's rifles,
loading them deliberately, and discharging them again into the
air—I flung myself exhausted on the bed, and reasoned myself
back to my magnanimity. I would be his groomsman!

It was a morning like the burst of a millenium on the world.
I felt as if I should never forgive the birds for their mocking
enjoyment of it. The wild heron swung up from the reeds, the
lotuses shook out their dew into the lake as the breeze stirred
them, and the senseless old Dutchman sat fishing in his canoe,
singing one of his unintelligible psalms to a quick measure that
half maddened me. I threw myself upon the yielding floor of
pine-tassels on the edge of the lake, and with the wretched school
philosophy, “Si gravis est, brevis est,” end avored to put down
the tempest of my feelings.

A carriage rattled over the little bridge, mounted the ascent
rapidly, and brought up at Barhydt's door.

“Phil!” shouted Tom, “Phil!”

I gulped down a choking sensation in my throat, and rushed up
the bank to him. A stranger was dismounting from his horse.

“Quick!” said Tom, shaking my hand hurriedly—“there is
no time to lose. Out with your inkhorn, Mr. Poppletree, and
have your papers signed while I tie up my ponies.”


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“What is this sir?” said I, starting back as the stranger
deliberately presented me with a paper, in which my own name
was written in conspicuous letters.

The magistrate gazed at me with a look of astonishment.
“A contract of marriage, I think, between Mr. Philip Slingsby
and Miss Katherine Lorimer, spinster. Are you the gentleman
named in that instrument, sir?”

At this moment my sister, leading the blushing girl by the
hand, came and threw her arms about my neck, and drawing her
within my reach, ran off and left us together.

There are some pure moments in this life that description
would only profane.

We were married by the village magistrate in that magnificent
sanctuary of the forest, old Barhydt and his lotuses the only
indifferent witnesses of vows as passionate as ever trembled upon
human lips.

I had scarce pressed her to my heart and dashed the tears from
my eyes, when Fane, who had looked more at my sister than at
the bride during the ceremony, left her suddenly, and thrusting a
roll of parchment into my pocket, ran off to bring up his ponies.
I was on the way to Saratoga, a married man, and my bride on
the seat beside me, before I had recovered from my astonishment.

“Pray,” said Tom, “if it be not an impertinent question, and
you can find breath in your ecstacies, how did you find out that
your sister had done me the honor to accept the offer of my

The resounding woods rung with his unmerciful laughter at the

“And pray,” said I, in my turn, “if it is not an impertinent
question, and you can find a spare breath in your ecstacies, by


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what magic did you persuade old Frump to trust his ward and
her title deeds in your treacherous keeping?”

“It is a long story, my dear Phil, and I will give you the particulars
when you pay me the `Virginia bloods' you wot of.
Suffice it for the present, that Mr. Frump believes Mr. Tom
Fane (alias Jacob Phipps, Esq., sleeping partner of a banking-house
at Liverpool) to be the accepted suitor of his fair ward.
In his extreme delight at seeing her in so fair a way to marry
into a bank, he generously made her a present of her own fortune,
signed over his right to control it by a document in your possession,
and will undergo as agreeable a surprise in about five minutes
as the greatest lover of excitement could desire.”

The ponies dashed on. The sandy ascent by the Pavilion
Spring was surmounted, and in another minute we were at the
door of Congress Hall. The last stragglers from the breakfast
table were lounging down the colonnade, and old Frump sat reading
the newspaper under the portico.

“Aha! Mr. Phipps,” said he, as Tom drove up—“back so
soon, eh? Why, I thought you and Kitty would be billing it till

“Sir!” said Tom, very gravely, “you have the honor of addressing
Captain Thomas Fane, of his majesty's —th Fusileers;
and whenever you have a moment's leisure, I shall be happy to
submit to your perusal a certificate of the marriage of Miss
Katherine Lorimer to the gentleman I have the pleasure to present
to you. Mr. Frump, Mr. Slingsby!”

At the mention of my name, the blood in Mr. Frump's ruddy
complexion turned suddenly to the color of the Tiber. Poetry
alone can express the feeling pictured in his countenance:—


Page 151
“If every atom of a dead man's flesh
Should creep, each one with a particular life,
Yet all as cold as ever—'twas just so:
Or had it drizzled needle-points of frost,
Upon a feverish head made suddenly bald.”

George Washington Jefferson Frump, Esq., left Congress Hall
the same evening, and has since ungraciously refused an invitation
to Captain Fane's wedding—possibly from his having neglected to
invite him on a similar occasion at Saratoga. This last, however,
I am free to say, is a gratuitous supposition of my own.