University of Virginia Library





I have not written to you in your boy's lifetime—that fine lad,
a shade taller than yourself, whom I sometimes meet at my
tailor's and bootmaker's. I am not very sure, that after the first
month (bitter month) of your marriage, I have thought of you
for the duration of a revery—fit to be so called. I loved you—
lost you—swore your ruin and forgot you—which is love's climax
when jilted. And I never expected to think of you again.

Beside the astonishment at hearing from me at all, you will be
surprised at receiving a letter from me at Saratoga. Here where
the stars are, that you swore by—here, where the springs and
colonnades, the woodwalks and drives, the sofas and springs, are
all coated over with your delicious perjuries, your “protested”
protestations, your incalculable bankruptcy of sighs, tears, caresses,
promises! Oh! Julia—mais, retiens toi, ma plume!

I assure you I had not the slightest idea of ever coming here
again in the world—not the slightest! I had a vow in heaven
against it, indeed. While I hated you—before I forgot you, that
is to say—I would not have come for your husband's million—
(your price, Julia!) I had laid Saratoga away with a great seal,


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to be reopened in the next star I shall inhabit, and used as a
lighthouse of warning. There was one bannister at Congress
Hall, particularly—across which we parted nightly—the next
object my hand touched after losing the warm pressure of yours
—the place I leaned over with a heart under my waistcoat which
would have scaled Olympus to be nearer to you, yet was kept
back by that mahogany and your “no”—and I will believe that
devils may become dolls, and ghosts play around us like the
smoke of a cigar, since over that bannister I have thrown my leg
and sat thinking of the past without phrensy or emotion! And
none have a better right than we to laugh now at love's passionate
eternities! For we were lovers, Julia—I, as I know, and
you, as I believe—and in that entry, when we parted to dream,
write, contrive for the blissful morrow—anything but sleep and
forget—in that entry and over that bannister were said words of
tenderness and devotion, from as deep soundings of two hearts as
ever plummet of this world could by possibility fathom. You
did love me—monster of untruth and forgetfulness as you have
since been bought for—you did love me! And that you can ride
in your husband's carriage and grow fat, and that I can come
here and make a mock of it, are two comments on love worthy
of the common-place-book of Mephistophiles. Fie on us!

I came to Saratoga as I would look at a coat that I had worn
twenty years before—with a sort of vacant curiosity to see the
shell in which I had once figured. A friend said, “Join me at
Saratoga!” and it sounded like, “Come and see where Julia was
adorable.” I came in a rail-car, under a hot sun, and wanted my
dinner, and wished myself where Julia, indeed, sat fat in her
fauteuil—wished it, for the good wine in the cellar and the
French cook in the kitchen. And I did not go down to “Congress


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Hall,” the old palais d'amour—but in the modern and comfortable
parlor of the “United States,” sat down by a pretty
woman of these days, and chatted about the water-lily in her
bosom and the boy she had up stairs—coldly and every-day-ishly.
I had been there six hours, and you had not entered my thoughts.
Please to believe that, Julia!

But in the evening there was a ball at Congress Hall. And
though the old house is unfashionable now, and the lies of love
are elsewhere told and listened to, there was a movement among
the belles in its favor, and I appended myself to a lady's arm
and went boldly. I say boldly, for it required an effort. The
twilight had fallen, and with it had come a memory or two of the
Springs in our time. I had seated myself against a pillar of the
colonnade of the “United States,” and looked down toward Congress
Hall—and you were under the old vine-clad portico, as I
should have seen you from the same spot, and with the same eye
of fancy, sundry years ago. So it was not quite like a passionless
antiquary that I set foot again on that old-time colonnade,
and, to say truth, as the band struck up a waltz, I might have
had in my lip a momentary quiver, and some dimness in my
world-weary eye. But it passed away.

The ball was comme ca, and I found sweet women (as where
are they not—given, candles and music?) and aired my homage
as an old stager may. I danced without thinking of you uncomfortably,
though the ten years' washing of that white floor has not
quite washed out the memory of your Arab instep with its embracing
and envied sandal, gliding and bounding, oh how airily!
For you had feet, absolute in their perfection, dear Julia!—had
you not?

But I went out for fresh air on the colonnade, in an evil and


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forgetful moment. I strolled alone toward the spring. The lamp
burned dim, as it used to burn, tended by Cupid's minions. And
on the end of the portico, by the last window of the music-room,
under that overhanging ivy, with stars in sight that I would have
sworn to for the very same—sat a lady in a dress like yours as I
saw you last, and black eyes, like jet lamps framed in velvet,
turning indolently toward me. I held by the railing, for I am
superstitious, and it seemed to me that I had only to ask why you
were there—for, ghostly or bodily, there I saw you! Back came
your beauty on my memory with yesterday's freshness of recollection.
Back came into my heart the Julia of my long-accursed
adoration! I saw your confiding and bewildering smile, your
fine-cut teeth of pearl, your over-bent brow and arch look from
under, your lily-shoulders, your dimpled hands. You were
there, if my senses were sufficient evidence, if presence be anything
without touch—bodily there!

Of course it was somebody else. I went in and took a julep.
But I write to tell you that for a minute—a minute of enormous
capacity—I have loved you once more. For one minute, while
you probably were buried deep in your frilled pillow—(snoring,
perhaps—who knows?)—for one minute, fleeting and blissful,
you have been loved again—with heart, brain, blood, all on fire
with truth, tenderness, and passionate adoration—by a man who
could have bought you (you know I could!) for half the money
you sold for! And I thought you would like to know this,
Julia! And now, hating you as before, in your fleshy forgetfulness,
Yours not at all.


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Start fair, my sweet Violet! This letter will lie on your
table when you arrive at Saratoga, and it is intended to prepare
you for that critical campaign. You must know the ammunition
with which you go into the field. I have seen service, as you
know, and from my retirement (on half-pay), can both devise
strategy and reconnoitre the enemy's weakness, with discretion.
Set your glass before you on the table, and let us hold a frank
council of war.

You never were called beautiful, as you know; and at home
you have not been a belle—but that is no impediment. You are
to be beautiful, now, or at least to produce the result of beauty,
which is the same thing; and of course you are to be a belle—
the belle, if I mistake not, of the season. Look in your mirror,
for a moment, and refresh your memory with the wherewithal.

You observe that your mouth has blunt corners—which, properly
managed, is a most effective feature. Your complexion
is rather darkly pale, your forehead is a shade lower than
thought desirable, your lips are full, sweet, and indolent, and
your eyes are not remarkable unless when well handled. The
lids have a beauty, however, which a sculptor would understand,
and the duskiness around them may intensify, exceedingly, one
particular expression. Your figure is admirably perfect, but in
this country, and particularly among the men you are to control,
this large portion of female beauty is neither studied nor valued


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Your hair is too profuse to be dressed quite fashionably, but it is
a beauty not to be lost, so it must be coiffed a l'abandon—a very
taking style to a man once brought to the point of studying you.

There are two phases in your character, Violet—earnestness
and repose. The latter shows your features to the most advantage,
besides being a most captivating quality in itself. I would
use it altogether for the first week. Gayety will never do. A
laugh on a face like yours is fatal. It spreads into unmeaning
platitude the little wells in the corners of your mouth (the blunt
corners I spoke of above), and it makes your eyes smaller—
which they can not well bear. Your teeth are minion and white,
it is true, but they show charmingly when you speak, and are excellent
as reserved artillery, to follow an introduction. Save your
mirth till the game is won, my dear Violet!

Of course you will not appear at breakfast the first morning
after your arrival. The mental atmosphere of the unaired hours
is too cold and questioning for a first appearance. So is the
hungry half-hour till the soup is removed. Go down late to dinner.
Till after the first glass of wine, the heart of man is a
shut book—opened then for entries, and accessible till shut again
by sleep. You need no table-lesson. You eat elegantly, and,
with that swan's neck wrist, curving and ivory-fair, your every
movement is ammunition well-bestowed. But there may, or may
not, be a victim on the other side of the table.

After dinner is the champ de bataille! The men are gallant,
the ladies melted out, impulses a-top, the key of conversation soprano,
and everybody gay and trivial. So be not you. It is not
your style. Seat yourself where you will have a little space for
a foreground, lean your light elbow on your left wrist, and support
your cheek languidly in the hollow of your gloved thumb


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and forefinger. Excuse the particularity, but try the attitude as
you sit now. Pretty—is it not?

Look only out of the tops of your eyes! If women's glances
were really the palpable shafts the poets paint them, the effective
ones would cut through the eyebrows. Stupid ones slide over the
under lid. Try this! How earnest the glance with the head
bent downward!—how silly the eyes with the chin salient! And
move your eye indolently, my charming Violet! It traverses the
frippery gayety-woof of the hour with a pretty thread of contrast
that looks like superiority. Men have a natural contempt for
themselves when in high spirits, and repose comes over them like
a star left in heaven after the turn of a rocket.

Nothing is prettier in woman than a leaning head! Bow without
removing the supporting hand from your cheek when a man
is introduced to you; smile tranquilly, and look steadfastly in
his eyes and hear what he has to say. Lucky for you—it is his
devoir to commence conversation! And in whatever tone he
speaks, pitch your reply a note lower! Unutterably sweet is the
contralto tone of woman, and the voices of two persons, conversing,
are like the plummets of their hearts—the deeper from the
deeper—so felt, and so yielded. If you think it worth your
while to harmonize with his tone afterward, either in argument or
tenderness, the compliment is only less subtle than overpowering.

There is a great deal of promenading at Saratoga, and natural
instinct will teach you most of its overcomingness; but I will
venture a suggestion or two. If you are bent on damage to your
man, lay your wrist forward to his, and let your hand drop over
it, when you take his arm. No mortal eye would think it particular,
nor would he—but there is a kind of unconscious affectionateness
about it which is electric. Of course you would not


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resort to manifest pressure, or leaning heavily, except you were
carrying on the war a l'outrance. Walk with your head a little
drooped. If you wish to walk more slowly, tell him so, but don't
hang back.
It is enchanting to have a woman “head you off,” as
the sailors say, as if she were trying to wind around you—and it
has the charm, too, of not looking particular!

As to conversation, the trick is born with woman. If her person
is admired to begin with, this is the least of her troubles.
But though you are sweet subjects, and men like to hear you talk
about yourselves, there is a sweeter subject, which they like better
than you—themselves. And lean away from merriment, Violet!
No man ever began to love, or made any progress in loving,
while a woman was laughing. There is a confidingness in
subdued tones and sad topics which sinks through the upper-crust
of a man like a stone through the thin ice of a well. And if he is
a man of natural sentiment or feeling, though a worldling himself,
the less worldliness in you, the better. Piety, in those who
are to belong to us, is a spell that, in any but mythological days,
would have superseded the sirens.

I believe that is all, Violet. At least it is all I need harp upon,
to you. Dress, you understand to a miracle. I see, by the way,
that they are wearing the hair now, like the chains on the shoulder
of a hussar—three or four heavy curls swung from the temples
to the back-knot. And that will be pretty for you, as your
jaw is not Napoleonesque, and looks better for partial hiding.
Ruin your father, if necessary, in gloves and shoes. Primroses
should not be fresher. And whatever scarfs are made for, wear
nothing to break the curves from ear-tip to shoulder—the sculpture
lines of beauty in woman. Keep calm. Blood out of place
is abominable. And last, not least, for Heaven's sake don't fall


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in love! If you do, my precepts go for nothing and your belle-ship
is forgotten by all but “the remaider biscuit”

Your affectionate uncle,
Cinna Beverley.

The above curious letter was left in the dressing-table drawer
of No. —, United States Hotel. It was not generally known
that the young lady who had occupied the room before a certain
respectable spinster (who handed us the letter, taking the responsibility
of its publication as a warning), eloped after the third
day of her belleship—as was to be expected. The result of such
pestilent advice is its own proper moral.

The respectable and zealous spinster who sent us for publication,
as a salutary warning, the very worldly and trappy epistle,
addressed to Miss Violet Maby, at Saratoga, and published on a
previous page, has laid her fingers on another specimen of the
same gentleman's correspondence, which we give, without comment
or correction, as follows:

My dear Widow: For the wear and tear of your bright eyes
in writing me a letter you are duly credited. That for a real
half-hour, as long as any ordinary half-hour, such well-contrived
illuminations should have concentrated their mortal using on me
only, is equal, I am well aware, to a private audience of any two


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stars in the firmament—eyelashes and petticoats (if not thrown
in) turning the comparison a little in your favor. Thanks—of
course—piled high as the porphyry pyramid of Papantla!

And you want “a pattern for a chemisette.” Let me tell you,
my dear widow, you have had a narrow escape. Had you
unguardedly written to your milliner for an article so obsolete—
but I'll not harrow up your feelings. Suffice it, that that once-privileged
article has passed over, with decayed empires, to history—an
aristocracy of muslin too intoxicated to last. “Fuit!

The truth is shams are tottering. The linen cuff which was a
shallow representation of the edge of a linen sleeve, and the linen
collar or embroidered chemisette, which as faintly imagined forth
the spotless upper portion of the same investiture, are now bona
continuations of a garment, “though lost to sight to memory
dear!” The plait on the throat and wrist is scrupulously of
the same fineness, and simply emerges from the neck and sleeve
of the dress without turning over.

The hem of the skirt is beyond my province of observation,
but as the plaited edge would be pretty (spread over the instep
when sitting), the unity is probably preserved.

Apropos of instep—the new discovery of a steel spring in the
shoe to arch the hollow of the foot, has directed attention to the
curves of those bewitching locomotives, and heels are coming into
fashion. This somewhat improves the shapeliness of the pastern,
lifts the sex a half inch nearer heaven—more out of reach than
ever, of course. Adieu in time—should you lose sight of me!

And now—(for I believe you may trust “The Lady's Book”
for the remainder of the chronicle of fashion)—how comes on,
oh, charming widow, the little property I have in your empire of
alabaster? Shall I recall the title-deed to your recollection;


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Did you not, on a summer's night, having the full possession of
your senses, lay a rose-leaf wetted with dew on your left temple?
Did you not, without mental reservation, scratch it round with a
thorn of the same rose, and then and there convey to me the territory
so bounded, to have and to hold for my natural life, to be
guarded, at your peril, from trespass or damage? Did you not,
at the same place and time, with blood taken from your pricked
finger, write me out, to this effect, a rosy conveyance, of which,
if needful, I can send you, in red ink, a paler copy? Of course
I do not ask for information. You know you did. And you
know you had for it a consideration—of such immortality as was
in my power to bestow:—

“Where press this hour those fairy feet?” &c.

You married—and with so prying a neighbor as your remainder's
husband, I did not very frequently visit my little property.
You had the stewardship over it, and I presume that you respected,
and made others respect, the rights of the proprietor. I
never heard that your husband was seen invading the premises.
I have every reason to believe that he was uniformly directed to
plant his tulips elsewhere than in my small garden. It was to me
a slumbering investment—and the interest, I must be permitted
to advise you, has accumulated upon it!

And now that my prying neighbor is dead, and the property in
the opposite temple and the remainder of the demesne, has
reverted to the original proprietor, I may be permitted to propose
myself as an occupant of my own territory, pro tem., with liberty
to pluck fruit from the opposite garden as long as it remains untenanted.
Take care how you warn me off. That peach upon
would make a thief of a better man.


Page 340

You disdain news, of course. China is taken by the English,
and the Down-Town-Bard has recovered his appetite for champagne,
and writes regularly for the New Mirror. The Queen's
Guards have done coming over; the town dull; and bonnets (I
forgot to mention) are now worn precipitated over the nose at an
angle of forty-five degrees.

Adieu, my dear widow. Command me till you lose your
beauty. Yours at present,

Cinna Beverley.


My dear neph-ling: I congratulate you on the attainment
of your degree as “Master of Arts.” In other words, I wish
the sin of the Faculty well repented of, in having endorsed upon
parchment such a barefaced fabrication. Put the document in
your pocket, and come away! There will be no occasion to air
it before doomsday, probably, and fortunately for you, it will then
revert to the Faculty. Quiescat adhuc—as I used to say of my
tailor's bills till they came through a lawyer.

And now, what is to become of you? I do not mean as to
what your grandmother calls your “temporal welfare.” You
were born to gold-dust like a butterfly's wing. Ten thousand a
year will ooze into your palm like insensible perspiration—(principally


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from investments in the “Life and Trust”). But your
style, my dear boy—your idiosyncrasy of broadcloth and beaver,
satin and patent-leather—your outer type—your atmosphere—
your cut! Oh, Alexis!

But let us look this momentous matter coolly in the face.

America has now arrived at that era of civilized aggrandizement
when it is worth a gentleman's while to tie his cravat for
the national meridian. We can afford to wish St. James street
bon voyage” in its decline from empire. We dress better than
Great Britain. Ilium fuit. The last appeal of the universe, as
to male toggery, lies in the approval of forty eyes lucent beneath
twenty bonnets in Broadway. In the decision of twenty belles or
thereabout, native in New York, resides, at this present crisis,
the eidolon of the beau supreme. Homage à la mode Manhattanesque!

But, to the sanctum of fashion there is no thoroughfare.
Three persons, arriving at it by the same road, send it flying like
“Loretto's chapel through the air.” Every man his own guide
thither, and his path trackless as a bird's alley to his nest! I
can but give you some loose data for guidance, and pray that
“by an instinct you have” you may take a “bee-line” of your

Of course you know that during the imitative era just past,
there have been two styles of men's dress—the Londonish and
the Parisian—pretty equally popular, I should say. The London
man dresses loose above, the Paris man loose below—tight hips
and baggy coat in St. James street—baggy trousers and pinched
coat on the Boulevard. The Englishman puts on his cravat with
summary energy and a short tie—the Frenchman rejoices in a
voluptuous waterfall of satin; and each, more particularly in this


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matter of neckcloth, abhors the other. John Bull shows his
shirt-collar till death—Monsieur sinks it with the same pertinacity.
English extravagance, fine linen—French extravagance,
primrose kids.

Something is due, of course, to the settled principles of art.
By the laws of sculpture, the Frenchman is wrong—the beauty
of the male figure consisting in the breadth of the shoulders and
the narrowness of the hips; and this formation shows blood and
breeding, moreover, as to have small hips, a man's progenitors
must not have carried burdens. So—for me—trousers snug to
the barrel, and coat scant of skirt, but prodigal above. Decide
for yourself, notwithstanding. There is a certain je ne sçais quoi
in bagginess of continuation—specially on a tall man. It only
don't suit my style!

And, as to cravat, I have the same weak leaning toward Bond
street. The throat looks poulticed in those heavy voluminousnesses.
Black diminishes the apparent size, too, and the more
shirt-bosom visible, the broader the apparent chest. It depends
on the stuff, somewhat. Very rich billows of flowered satin look
ruinous—and that the ladies love. But in every other particular,
if you will wear these eclipsers of linen, you must be as lavendered
as a lily at dawn—compensatory, as it were! And if
you show your collar, for Heaven's sake let it follow the curve of
your jawbone, and not run athwart it like a rocket aimed at the
corner of your eyebrow! I am sensitive as to this last hint.
The reform was my own.

One caution—never be persuaded that there is such a thing as
a fashion of hat! Believe me, the thing is impossible! Employ
an artist. George Flagg has a good eye for a gentleman's
belongings and he'll make a drawing of you with reference to a


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hat. No hat is endurable that will not look well in a picture.
Ponder the brim. Study how the front curve cuts the line of the
eyebrow. Regulate it by the expression of face common to you
when dawdling. See if you require lengthening or crowding
down—physiognomically, I mean. Low crowns are monstrous
vindictive Bell crowns are dressy—white hats rowdy. And,
once fixed in your taste by artistical principles, be pretty constant
through life to that hat. Have it reproduced (rigidly, without
consultation with your hatter), and give it a shower-bath before
wearing. Unmitigated new hat is truly frightful. Orlando Fish
takes your idea cleverly, touching a tile of your own.

As to the Castaly of coats, I am driven to believe that the
true fount is at Philadelphia. One marvellous coat after another
arrived at Saratoga while I was there, and to my astonished research
as to their origin, and there was but one reply—“Carpenter.”
What may be the address of this Carpenter of coats, I
know not yet. But I shall know, and soon—for he builds to a
miracle. Trousers, as you know, are sent home in the rough,
and adapted by perseverance. They are a complex mystery, on
the whole. Few makers know more than a part in the science
of cutting them, and you must supply the rest by clear expounding
and pertinacious experiment. The trade is trying, and should
be expiative of crime in the “sufferer.”

There is but one simple idea in boots—patent-leather and
straight on the inside. But, by-the-way, to jump abruptly to the
other extremity, how do you wear your hair. For Cupid's and
the Grace's sake, don't be English in that! Short hair on a
young man looks to me madhousey. Ugh! Straight or curly,
leave it long enough to make a bootlace for a lady! And see
that it looks threadable by slight fingers—for if you should


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chance to be beloved, there will be fingers unemployed but for
that little endearment. So at least I conjecture—bald myself,
and of course, not experienced authority.

But, whatever you decide, don't step into the street rashly!
Keep yourself “on private view” for a few days after you are
made up, and call in discreet judges for the benefit of criticism
—an artist or two among them for the general effects. First impressions
are irrevocable.

Adieu, my boy! Caution!—and ponder on Balzac's dictum:
Les femmes aiment les fats, parceque les fats sont les seuls hommes
qui eussent soin d'eux-mémes.

Your affectionate uncle,

Cinna Beverley.
P. S. A short cane—say as long as your arm—is rather knowing,
now. Nobody carries a long stick, except to poke at snakes
in the country.

Next to eating, drinking, loving, and money-making, the
greatest desire of human beings seems to be to discover the lining
of each other's brains; and the great difference between
authors and other people seems mainly to consist in the faculty
of turning out this lining to the view. But in this same lining
there are many plaits, wrinkles, and corners, which even authors
scarce think it worth their while to expand, but which, if accidentally
developed, create an interest, either by their correspondence
with other people's wrinkles, or by their intrinsic peculiarity.


Page 345

Let us see if we can give a sketchy idea of the rise and progress
of literary celebrity in London; or, in other words, the
climbing into society, and obtaining of notice by men who have a
calling to literature. Sterne's method of generalizing, by taking
a single instance, is a very good one, and we will touch here and
there upon the history of an individual whom we know, and who,
after achieving several rounds of the ladder of society, is still, we
believe, slowly making his way upward—or downward. Let us
call him Snooks, if you please, for we cannot give his real name,
and still speak as freely as we wish to do of his difficulties in
mounting. Snooks was a Manchester boy of good birth, brought
up to business—his position at home about equal to that of a
merchant's son in New York. He began writing verses for the
country papers, and at last succeeded in getting an article into
the London New Monthly, and with this encouragement came up
to town to follow literature for a livelihood. With a moderate
stipend from his father, he lived a very quiet life for a couple of
years, finding it rather difficult to give away his productions, and
quite impossible to sell them. There was no opening at the same
time through which he could even make an attempt to get a footing
in desirable society. In the third year he became proof-reader
to one of the publishers, and being called upon to write anticipatory
puffs of works he had examined in manuscript, he came
under the notice of the proprietor of one of the weeklies, and by
a lucky chance was soon after employed as sub-editor. This was
his first available foothold. It was his business, of course, to
review new books, and, as a “teller” in the bank of fame, he was
a personage of some delegated importance. His first agreeable
surprise was the receipt of a parcel in scented paper, containing
the virgin effusions of a right honorable lady, who, in a little


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note, with her compliments to Mr. Snooks (for she had inquired
the name of her probable critic through a literary friend), begged
a notice of her little book, and a call from Mr. Snooks when he
should have committed his criticisms to paper. Snooks was a
man of very indifferent personables, his hair of an unmitigated
red, and his voice of a very hair-splitting treble; but he had a
violent taste for dress, and a born passion for countesses; and he
wrote most unexceptionable poetry, that would pass for anybody's
in the world, it was so utterly free from any peculiarity. This
last quality made him an excellent verse-tinker, and he was the
man of all others best suited to solder over the cracks and chasms
of right honorable poetry. He wrote a most commendatory criticism
of her ladyship's book, quoting some passages, with here
and there an emendation of his own, and called at the noble
mansion with the critique in his pocket. By this bridge of well-born
vanity, paying the humiliating toll of insincere praise, he
crossed the repelling barrier of aristocratic life, and entered it as
the necessary incumbrance in her ladyship's literary fame. Her
ladyship was “at home” on Thursday evenings, and Snooks became
the invariable first comer and last goer-away; but his happiness
on these Thursday evenings could only be called happiness
when it was reconnoitred from the distance of Manchester. He
went always in an irreproachable waistcoat, fresh gloves and varnished
shoes, but his social performances for the evening consisted
in his first bow to her ladyship, and her ladyship's “How d'ye
do, Mr. Snooks?” After this exciting conversation, he became
immediately interested in some of the bijoux upon the table,
striding off from that to look at a picture in the corner, or to
procure the shelter of a bust upon a pedestal, behind which he
could securely observe the people, so remarkably unconscious of


Page 347
his presence. Possibly toward the latter part of the evening, a
dandy would level his glass at him and wonder how the devil he
amused himself, or some purblind dowager would mistake him for
the footman, and ask him for a glass of water; but these were
his nearest approaches to an intimacy with the set in which he
visited. After a couple of years of intercourse with the nobility
on this footing, he becomes acquainted with one or two other
noble authors at the same price, frequents their parties in the
same way, and having unequivocal evidence (in notes of invitation)
that he visits at the West End, he now finds a downward
door open to society in Russell square. By dint of talking
authentically of my lady this, and my lord the other, he obtains
a vogue at the East End which he could only get by having come
down from a higher sphere, and through this vestibule of aristocratic
contempt he descends to the highest society in which he
can ever be familiar. Mr. Snooks has written a novel in three
volumes, and considers himself fully established as one of the
notabilities of London; but a fish out of water is happy in comparison
with Snooks when in the society of the friends he talks
most about, and if he were to die to-morrow, those very
“friends” would with difficulty remember anything but his red
head, and the exemplary patience with which he submitted to his
own society.

The fact is, that the position of a mere literary man in England,
in any circle above that to which he is born, is that of a
jackall. He is invited for what he contributes to the entertainment
of the aristocratic lions and lionesses who feed him. He
has neither power nor privilege in their sphere. He dare not
introduce a friend, except as another jackall, and it would be for
very extraordinary reasons that he would ever name at the tables


Page 348
where he is most intimate, his father or mother, wife, sister, or
brother. The footman, who sometimes comes to him with a note
or book, knows the difference between him and the other guests
of his master, and by an unpunishable difference of manner,
makes the distinction in his service. The abandon which they
feel in his presence, he never feels in theirs; and we doubt
whether Thomas Moore himself, the pet of the English aristocracy
for forty years, ever forgot, in their company, that he was
in the presence of his superiors, and an object of condescension.

Now we have many people in this country, Americans born,
who are monarchists, and who make no scruple in private conversation
of wishing for a defined aristocracy, and other infrangible
distinctions between the different classes of society. In the picture
they draw, however, they themselves figure as the aristocrats;
and we must take the liberty, for the moment, of putting
them “below the salt,” and setting forth a few of their annoyances.
Take the best-received Americans in London—yourself,
for example, Mr. Reader! You have no fixed rank, and therefore
you have nothing to keep you down, and can rise to any
position in the gift of your noble entertainer. As a foreigner,
you circulate freely (as many well-introduced Americans do)
through all the porcelain penetralia of the West End. You are
invited to dine, we will say, with his grace, the Duke of Devonshire.
There are ten or twelve guests, all noble except yourself;
and when you look round upon the five other gentlemen, it is possible
that, without vanity, you may come to the conclusion, that
in dress, address, spirit, and natural gifts, you are at least the
equal of those around you. Dinner is late in being announced,
and meantime, as you know all the ladies, and are particularly
acquainted with the youngest and prettiest, you sit down by the


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latter, and promise yourself the pleasure of giving her an arm
when the doors are thrown open, and sitting by her at dinner.
The butler makes his appearance at last, and the lady willingly
takes your arm—when in steps my Lord Flummery, who is a terrible
“spoon,” but undoubtedly “my lord,” takes the lady from
you, and makes his way to the dinner-table. Your first thought
is to follow and secure a place on the other side of her, but still
another couple or two are to take precedence, and you are left at
last to walk in alone, and take the seat that is left—perhaps
between two men who have a lady on the other side. Pleasant
—isn't it?

Again. You are strolling in Regent street or the park with an
Englishman, whose acquaintance you made on your travels. He
is a man of fortune, and as independent in his character as any
man in England. On the continent he struck you as particularly
high-minded and free from prejudice. You are chatting with
him very intimately, when a young nobleman, not remarkable for
anything but his nobility, slips his arm into your friend's and
joins the promenade. From that moment your friend gives you
about as much of his attention as he does to his walking-stick,
lets your questions go unanswered, let them be never so clever
and enjoys with the highest zest the most remote spoonyosities of
my lord. You, perhaps, as a stranger, visit in my lord's circle
of society, and your friend does not; but he would as soon think
of picking my lord's pocket as of introducing you to him, and,
if you begin to think you are Monsieur de Trop, and say “good
morning,” your friend, who never parted from you before without
making an engagement to see you again, gives you a nod without
turning his head from his lordship, and very dryly echoes your
“good morning.” And this, we repeat, the most independent


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man in England will do, for he is brought up to fear God and
honor a lord, and it is bred in his bone and brain.

We could give a thousand similar instances, but the reader can
easily imagine them. The life of a commoner in England is one
of inevitable and daily eclipse and mortification—nothing but the
force of early habits and education making it tolerable to the
Englishman himself, and nothing at all making it in any way endurable
to a republican of any pride or spirit. You naturally
say, “Why not associate with the middle classes, and let the
aristocracy go to the devil?” but individually sending people to
the devil is of no use, and the middle classes value yourself and
each other only as your introduction to them is aristocratic, or as
their friends are approvable by an aristocratic eye. There is
no class free from this humiliating weakness. The notice of a
lord will at any time take the wind out of your sails when a lady
is in the case; your tailor will leave you half-measured to run to
my lord's cab in the street; your doctor will neglect your fever
for my lord's cold; your friend will breakfast with my lord,
though engaged particularly to you; and the out-goings, and incomings,
the sayings and doings, the stupidities, impudencies,
manners, greetings, and condescensions of lords and ladies, usurp
the conversation in all places, and to the interruption or exclusion
of the most grave or personal topics.

Understand us, we grudge no respect to dignities or authorities.
Even to wealth as power, we are willing to yield the wall.
But we say again, that a republican spirit must rebel against
homage to anything human with which it never can compete,
and in
this lies the only distinction (we fervently hope) which will ever
hedge in an American aristocracy. Let who will get to windward


Page 351
of us by superior sailing—the richer, the handsomer, the cleverer,
the stronger, the more beloved and gifted—there was fair
play at the start, and we will pay deference and duty with the
promptest. But no lords and ladies, Mr. President, if you love




I have a passion for fat women. If there is anything I hate
in life, it is what dainty people call a spirituelle. Motion—rapid
motion—a smart, quick, squirrel-like step, a pert, voluble tone—
in short, a lively girl—is my exquisite horror! I would as lief
have a diable petit dancing his infernal hornpipe on my cerebellum
as to be in the room with one. I have tried before now to
school myself into liking these parched peas of humanity. I
have followed them with my eyes, and attended to their rattle
till I was as crazy as a fly in a drum. I have danced with them,
and romped with them in the country, and perilled the salvation
of my “white tights” by sitting near them at supper. I swear
off from this moment. I do. I won't—no—hang me if ever I
show another small, lively, spry woman a civility.

Albina McLush is divine. She is like the description of the
Persian beauty by Hafiz: “her heart is full of passion and her
eyes are full of sleep.” She is the sister of Lurly McLush, my
old college chum, who, as early as his sophomore year, was chosen
president of the Dolce-far-niente Society—no member of which
was ever known to be surprised at anything—(the college law of


Page 353
rising before breakfast excepted.) Lurly introduced me to his
sister one day, as he was lying upon a heap of turnips, leaning on
his elbow with his head in his hand, in a green lane in the suburbs.
He had driven over a stump, and been tossed out of his
gig, and I came up just as he was wondering how in the d—l's
name he got there! Albina sat quietly in the gig, and when I
was presented, requested me, with a delicious drawl, to say nothing
about the adventure—“it would be so troublesome to relate
it to everybody!” I loved her from that moment. Miss
McLush was tall, and her shape, of its kind, was perfect. It
was not a fleshy one, exactly, but she was large and full. Her
skin was clear, fine-grained, and transparent: her temples and
forehead perfectly rounded and polished, and her lips and chin
swelling into a ripe and tempting pout, like the cleft of a bursted
apricot. And then her eyes—large, liquid, and sleepy—they languished
beneath their long black fringes as if they had no business
with daylight—like two magnificent dreams, surprised in
their jet embryos by some bird-nesting cherub. Oh! it was
lovely to look into them!

She sat, usually, upon a fauteuil, with her large, full arm embedded
in the cushion, sometimes for hours without stirring. I
have seen the wind lift the masses of dark hair from her shoulders
when it seemed like the coming to life of a marble Hebe—
she had been motionless so long. She was a model for a goddess
of sleep, as she sat with her eyes half closed, lifting up their
superb lids slowly as you spoke to her, and dropping them again
with the deliberate motion of a cloud, when she had murmured
out her syllable of assent. Her figure, in a sitting posture, presented
a gentle declivity from the curve of her neck to the instep
of the small round foot lying on its side upon the ottoman. I


Page 354
remember a fellow's bringing her a plate of fruit one evening
He was one of your lively men—a horrid monster, all right an
gles and activity. Having never been accustomed to hold her
own plate, she had not well extricated her whole fingers from her
handkerchief, before he set it down in her lap. As it began
slowly to slide towards her feet, her hand relapsed into the muslin
folds, and she fixed her eye upon it with a kind of indolent
surprise, drooping her lids gradually, till as the fruit scattered
over the ottoman, they closed entirely, and a liquid jet line was
alone visible through the heavy lashes. There was an imperial
indifference in it worthy of Juno.

Miss McLush rarely walks. When she does, it is with the deliberate
majesty of a Dido. Her small, plump feet melt to the
ground like snow-flakes; and her figure sways to the indolent
motion of her limbs with a glorious grace and yieldingness quite
indescribable. She was idling slowly up the Mall one evening
just at twilight, with a servant at a short distance behind her,
who, to while away the time between his steps, was employing
himself in throwing stones at the cows feeding upon the Common.
A gentleman, with a natural admiration for her splendid person,
addressed her. He might have done a more eccentric thing.
Without troubling herself to look at him, she turned to her servant
and requested him, with a yawn of desperate ennui, to knock
that fellow down! John obeyed his orders; and, as his mistress
resumed her lounge, picked up a new handful of pebbles, and tossing
one at the nearest cow, loitered lazily after.

Such supreme indolence was irresistible. I gave in—I—who
never before could summon energy to sigh—I—to whom a declaration
was but a synonym for perspiration—I—who had only


Page 355
thought of love as a nervous complaint, and of women but to
pray for a good deliverance—I—yes—I—knocked under. Albina
McLush! Thou wert too exquisitely lazy. Human sensi
bilities cannot hold out forever!

I found her one morning sipping her coffee at twelve, with her
eyes wide open. She was just from the bath, and her complexion
had a soft, dewy transparency, like the cheek of Venus rising
from the sea. It was the hour, Lurly had told me, when she
would be at the trouble of thinking. She put away with her dimpled
forefinger, as I entered, a cluster of rich curls that had fallen
over her face, and nodded to me like a water-lily swaying to the
wind when its cup is full of rain.

“Lady Albina,” said I, in my softest tone, “how are you?”

“Bettina,” said she, addressing her maid in a voice as clouded
and rich as a south wind on an Æolian, “how am I to-day?”

The conversation fell into short sentences. The dialogue became
a monologue. I entered upon my declaration. With the
assistance of Bettina, who supplied her mistress with cologne, I
kept her attention alive through the incipient circumstances.
Symptoms were soon told. I came to the avowal. Her hand
lay reposing on the arm of the sofa, half buried in a muslin
foulard. I took it up and pressed the cool soft fingers to my lips
—unforbidden. I rose and looked into her eyes for confirmation.
Delicious creature! she was asleep!

I never have had courage to renew the subject. Miss McLush
seems to have forgotten it altogether. Upon reflection, too, I'm
convinced she would not survive the excitement of the ceremony
—unless, indeed, she should sleep between the responses and the
prayer. I am still devoted, however, and if there should come


Page 356
a war or an earthquake, or if the millennium should commence,
as is expected, in 1833, or if anything happens that can keep her
waking so long, I shall deliver a declaration, abbreviated for me
by a scholar-friend of mine, which, he warrants, may be articulated
in fifteen minutes—without fatigue.

No Page Number


In the village of Rockybrook there was one beauty who did not
look as if she were born there. Eyes as dark as hers might have
been found among the other belles of the neighborhood—features
as regular, and skin as fair, for a brunette; but there was a certain
character in the complete presence of Lilian Tevis—face,
form, movements and general air—which seemed to breathe of
another climate, and to be imprinted with the habits and associations
of another country and race. She was unconscious, apparently,
of possessing any advantage over her companions, either in
looks or mental qualities, and the peculiarities of her manner
would have been attributed, probably, by any one of the neighbors,
to great natural reserve, and to a near-sightedness which
might easily make her unaware of what was passing around her.
Her father was a Quaker farmer, in good circumstances, and her
mother was an enthusiast in that poetical and spirit-nurturing
religion, so that Lilian's education, though simple as it could well
be, had conspired with her timidity to turn her thoughts in upon
herself, fostering most the imaginative and dreamy side of her

In the assorting and coupling by the village gossips, Lily Tevis


Page 358
was invariably named with the son of “Contractor Brown,” almost
the only young man in the vicinity who “had been to college.”
The contractor was a stern father, and had taken his son
into business after giving him an education, exacting such service
as kept him well out of the way of love and leisure. To go to
the city, or to the backwoods, at a minute's warning—to pass a
month on horseback overlooking workmen—to toil one week,
night and day, over estimates, and, the next week, climb hills
with surveyors and engineers—was a kind of life that promised,
at least, as his father expressed it, “to take the nonsense out of
him.” A dread of this “nonsense” indeed—a vague dislike of
everything that “didn't pay”—was the key to most of the paternal
advice, which had been distributed along through the boyhood
and youth of young Brown, and it had gradually formed his mind
to a habit of trusting nothing to utterance, or to the knowledge
of others, which would not bear the scrutiny of this practical
standard Shut off from sentiment, however, the high health and
spirits of Frank Brown found expression in exuberant gayety of
manner; and, whenever in the society of the village belles, he
was invariably so good-humored and merry, that it passed for the
only possible shape of his natural disposition. Such he was
thought to be—and such only—even by Lily Tevis, who, notwithstanding,
had a preference for him, over all the young men
she had ever seen; and, without any definite avowal of love, she
had tacitly accepted his preference as shown in slight attentions,
and felt affianced to him by some unseen chain of reciprocated
feelings and sympathies. She frankly and gladly received the
news of him, when he was absent, (brought to her by those who
thought her and young Brown “the same as engaged,”) and received


Page 359
the especial smile of the contractor, when he spoke to her
on the road, with no special sense of its misapplication.

But, though she thus let the outer world, and the feelings
which belonged to it, take their course, there was an inner world
in which Lily felt more at home, and to which her thoughts
turned oftenest during her many hours of solitude. Of this
world of poetry and imagination, her chamber door was the entering
porch; and the key of that white-curtained sanctuary shut
out behind her the visible world, with its associations and affections,
as if the threshold had been guarded by an angel. Here
were her books. Here stood the table at which she sat to read
and dream. The window opened upon the long roof of her
mother's pantry and store rooms, which had been boxed in and
floored, and converted into a terrace for flowers. It was consistent
with Mrs. Tevis's religion, and the unconfessed poetry of her
nature, to encourage her daughter in habits of seclusion and privacy,
and this terrace of flowers, visited by no other eye than Lily's
and her own, seemed to her like the field of spirit communings,
in which she wished her beloved child to meet the unseen company
that is ever about us. It had gradually become the understood
custom of the household to observe a deference toward Lilian,
with regard to the hours when she was accustomed to be
alone; and the privacy of that chamber, and of the garden-walks
around under the terrace, were looked upon as sacred. With the
reserve of character which this was calculated to deepen and render
more sensitive, and with the increasing quickness of perception
as to the want of harmony between the rude world without
and the gentle world within, it was not wonderful that Lilian
Tevis became the imaginative being that she was, or that her new


Page 360
thoughts and emotions, in this more ideal of her two worlds,
should have been as secret as this story will show.

It had sometimes crossed Lilian's mind, that the thoughts and
occupations on which she set the most value, were those in which
Frank Brown had no share—for his conversations, when in her
presence, were usually divided between news and fun—but she
had felt no need, up to the time when our story commences, of
looking beyond his preference and attention, for companionship
or sympathy. A new light had lately broken in upon her, however.
In one of the periodicals which graced her well-stored table,
a new writer had made his appearance. Poems, over the signature
of “Ernest,” came, in successive numbers, and, from the
very first which she had read, they had singularly riveted her attention.
Without being finished as elaborately as those of other
writers, they had a certain close truthfulness to her own emotions,
and to the instincts of her own nature, which made them seem
like words she might have uttered in her sleep, or revelations,
that she might have made from her inmost being, in the clairvoyance
of magnetism. Though she had, herself, never written in
verse, and though the subjects were such as she had never talked
upon, and the language new, and with no imitation of any other
poet whom she had read, there was recognition in her heart for
the truth of every line. She had a spirit kindred to the writer's,
whoever he might be; and whether or not he had seen and known
her in other worlds, (as she could scarce help believing,) he was
now the interpreter of her soul.

For the successive numbers of the periodical in which appeared


Page 361
the poems of “Ernest,” Lilian waited with feverish impatience.
Each new one seemed truer and deeper, in its voicing forth of
what her soul had, hitherto, only left unsaid. She committed
them to memory with the first reading of them, and they haunted
her, waking and sleeping, in her walks and in her dreams.
Toward the writer, whoever he might be, she began to feel the
confidingness of intimacy and friendship. That, in some spiritguise
or other, he visited her mind, and could be made conscious
of what therein responded to his own beautiful thoughts, was a
conscious feeling in her bosom which amounted to a conviction.
It was with a resistless desire to record and retain the mementoes
of this intercourse, that she first took pen and paper. She had
no intention to send the letter to “Ernest” which she then
wrote. That one of these transcripts of reverie was afterward
sent to him, enclosed to the editor of the periodical to which he
was a contributor, and that it resulted in an actual correspondence,
in which neither knew the real name of the other, was a
reality which came about, Lilian scarce knew how. She had followed
the dictation of timidity in using a fictitious signature;
and, in arranging to receive the replies through a channel which
would not betray her residence, she was prompted by the dread
of seeming forward and strange to those who would not understand
the nature of the correspondence. With the beginnings
thus explained, the two following letters, from a more advanced
stage of the epistolary acquaintance, will, perhaps, be read comprehendingly:—


Page 362


All asleep around me, dear Ernest, save the birds and insects
to whom night is the time for waking. The stars and they are
the company of such lovers of the thought-world as you and I,
and, considering how beautiful night is, nature seems to have arranged
it for a gentler and loftier order of beings, who alternate
the conscious possession of the earth with those who wake by day.
Shall we think better of ourselves for joining this nightingale
troop, or is it (as I sometimes dread) a culpable shunning of the
positive duties which belong to us as creatures of sunshine?
Alas! this is but one of many shapes in which the same thought
comes up to trouble me! In yielding to this passion for solitude
—in communing, perhaps selfishly, with my own thoughts, in preference
to associating with friends and companions—in writing,
spiritually though it be, to you, in preference to thinking tenderly
of him—I seem to myself to be doing wrong. Is it so? Can I
divide my two natures, and rightfully pour my spirit's reserve
freely out to you, while I give to him who thinks me all his own,
only the every-day affection which he seems alone to value? Yet
the best portion of my nature would be unappreciated else—the
noblest questionings of my soul would be without response—the
world I most live in would be utterly lonely. I fear to decide
the question yet. I am too happy in writing to you. I will defer
it, at least, till I have sounded the depths of the well of angels
from which I am now quenching my thirst—till I know all the joy
and luxury which, it seems to me, the exchange of these innermost
breathings of the soul can alone give.


Page 363

You are waking, Ernest, I well know. With this fragrant air
and this thought-stirring moon, you would not sleep. I have requested
you to keep me in ignorance of where you are—whether
far away or near—and of all that could modify or conflict with
my fancy's conception of you. But, wherever you are, the lustrous
orb that throws a beam in at my window, throws another
to your upward eye, and by these electric threads, joined in the
luminous circle of the moon, thought passes between us. Oh,
how beautiful were the words in which you clothed one of these
thoughts—your thought and mine—in the poem which came yesterday!
How adorable is the gift, thus to be able to transfer
them, in unchanged eloquence, from the inarticulate world of reverie
to the language in which others can share them! Angelic
poet! Glorious master of two existences, and beautiful in both!
Accept my appreciation and my homage! Listen to me, over
this arch of moonbeams, built radiantly between us!

Ah me! these are strange words that I have written. My
flushed cheek betrays to me that my spirit draws my heart along
with its dreamtide! I should not write to you with this trembling
hand, and these impassioned syllables. I must drop my curtain
and shut out this moon, and still my disturbed spirit. I will try
to sleep. Good night, Ernest, and may the calm angels that
watch over us, bring to you the inspired visions for which you
wait, and tranquil dreams to

Your spirit worshipper,


The letter which follows was not in reply to the foregoing. It
was written after several had been exchanged on the subject to


Page 364
which it mainly refers, as best explaining the feelings entertained
by the writer toward her whom he addressed:—


You refuse to let me once rest my eyes upon you. I can
understand that there might be a timidity in the first thought of
meeting one with whom you had corresponded without acquaintance,
but it seems to me that a second thought must remind you
how much deeper and more sacred than “acquaintance,” our
interchange of sympathies has been. Why, dear Ermengarde,
you know me better than those who see me every day. My
most intimate companion knows me less. Even she to whom I,
perhaps, owe all confidence, and who might weep over the reservation
of what I have shared with you, had she the enlargement
of soul to comprehend it—even she knows me but as a child
knows the binding of a book, while you have read me well.
Why should you fear to let me once take your features into my
memory, that this vague pain of starry distance and separation
may be removed or lessened?

I must see you. I have thought, as you know, that we could
realise a presence by exchange of thought—that the eyes need
have no part in the interchange of minds. I even took pleasure
in believing—that I had, in this common-place and material
world, one viewless link—one friendship with a spirit, of whom
my mortal eyes knew nothing. But I was wrong. I feel, now,
that I have more need than others to see you, since I know, more
than others, what your features should confirm and interpret.
There is a point, in mere intellectual appreciation, where the
heart irresistibly comes in, and demands to see, with real eyes,


Page 365
the form in which is enshrined such an idol. That the reverse is
also true—that mere thoughtless affection comes to a point where
the mind demands that it, too, shall have something to worship—
is a more frequent discovery in intimacies. But I will not misrepresent
my present impulse by coldly reasoning upon it. It is
struggling in my heart, and pleading earnestly to see you. Will
you longer deny me, dear Ermengarde?

By your sweet confirmation of the truthfulness of my poem, in
your last letter, I was deeply touched. There was that in it
which I felt to be simply sincere, and which proved to me that I
have in you the treasure without which a poet cannot live—entire
appreciation by one mind and heart. I had wanted this—oh,
how painfully and deeply—till you first wrote to me! Criticism,
and success over competitors had satisfied me that what I wrote
was truly measured, but I needed to know that it was also felt,
and that I was loved for writing it. The world's admission of the
poet's merit is vague and cold. There are hours when he can neither
realize nor believe it. But in the sweet praise of one to
whose heart his meanings have gone home—one who recognizes,
by the inner woof of her own spirit, the fibre from which his
charmed words were spun—one who sees his better nature when
she looks upon him, and thinks of his best gifts first, at the moments
when he comes up to her memory—in such an appreciator,
kind and ever ready to encourage and commend, the poet feels
his best happiness bound up. He turns to her from the world.
He thinks of her in sadness. He writes with her sweet eyes
looking on. Other affections may employ his instinctive tenderness,
and his gay and thoughtless hours; but, in his soul's retirement
he asks for an interpreter who can enter with him—for the
sweet reader of what common affections never reach.


Page 366

I feel that you will not persist in refusing me. With thoughts
so genial and sympathetic as yours, there must be a heart of
kindness beating in unison, and I cannot long plead earnestly in
vain. Tell me but where you are, and by what name you are
known to those who are so blessed as to look upon you, and I will
fly to your side, or arrange to meet you, with as guarded delicacy
as you will. Only let me once see you—once take and treasure
your living image in my soul's memory—and I ask no more.
Hear me, dear Ermengarde, and let me write myself, not alone
your unseen poet, but

Your friend,

There was an arrival of two Quaker ladies and a young gentleman
at the Astor—(Mrs. and Miss Tevis, and Mr. F. Brown,
as it read on the register)—one lovely evening in June. The
ladies had come down from Rockybrook “to shop,” and as Mrs.
Tevis had chanced to hear that “friend Frank” was also meditating
a journey to town, she had bespoke his protection and company,
though (a little to her surprise) Lilian had not seemed
positively pleased when this accidental good fortune was first

Spite of Lilian's perverseness, however, Frank had succeeded
in making the journey agreeable—his high spirits and privileged
ease of manner, acting with their usual charm on the quiet
reserve of the lovely Quakeress, and, to the mother's eye, all
things flowing with a full tide in the current of an understood
affection. Lilian had had many a restless misgiving, notwithstanding,
as she sat on the steamer's deck, listening to the amusing


Page 367
chat of her presumed lover. She was going to town on a
concealed errand. It was after writing a reluctant assent to the
fervent plea of her secret correspondent for a meeting, that she
had expressed the wish for a journey, which had led her mother
to discover some necessities that were before unthought of, for a
shopping visit to New York. Mrs. Tevis needed seldom more
than a hint to anticipate or guess at her daughter's wishes, and
she had foreshadowed this one, with that unconscious maternal
clairvoyance, which all who have had such mothers will understand.

Lilian felt, by no means, certain that she should not confide
her secret to Frank before its purpose was carried out. She
longed to do so. Her deeply cherished habit of affection for him
seemed to claim a confidence on the subject as his right, while, on
the other hand, she both feared his disapproval, and dreaded that
he might fancy it to be a coquetry intended to bring him to an
avowal. That she had secretly corresponded with another, had
admired that other for exactly the qualities which Frank seemed
entirely deficient in, and that she was about to see his rival, and
weigh, one against the other, the attractions of the two—were
truths which could be made to wear a very culpable aspect,
though an almost irresistible instinct prompted her to divulge all.
She had not owned to herself that she loved this unseen poet. It
was the theory by which she kept up her self-justification, that a
friendship growing out of mere interchange of thoughts, need not
interfere with the constancy of an affection founded on such intimacy
as hers with Frank. She sighed only, in trying to separate
the two, that their qualities were not combined in one. That a
lover who had the winning and attaching every-day qualities of
Frank Brown, could not also be a high-souled poet, alive to the


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loftier and more elevating converse of the soul, seemed to her in
accordance with that universal imperfectness of human allotment,
over which philosophers and bards have, from time immemorial,
made moan. She only hoped that in this secret intellectual intimacy,
she was not cultivating an ideal preference which would
make her real love seem poor and insufficient. How the two—
Ernest and Frank—would compare, as real men, was the problem
which entirely occupied her, at present, and which the interview
of the next morning was most excitingly to solve.

The breakfast of the three visitors from Rockybrook, at the
Astor House table, was inexplicably embarrassed by reserve, on
the day which was to bring Lilian and Ernest for the first time
together. Mrs. Tevis concluded that the lovers had had a quarrel.
After making several efforts to enliven the conversation, she
discreetly gave it up, biding her time for an explanation. Lilian
looked flushed and restless. She feared momently that Frank
would propose some engagement which would make it necessary
to plead other occupation for that day. He was, fortunately,
silent as to the disposal of her morning, however. His own
business in town seemed to be the only matter in his thoughts.
They rose from table and separated, to Lilian's infinite relief,
with only a mention of meeting again for dinner.

To be disembarrassed of her mother's presence, by sending
her out to make some purchases, upon which she pleaded want
of spirits to accompany her, was Lilian's first move after breakfast.
She did this with a self-reproach and unwillingness which


Page 369
almost brought her to an outpouring of her heart's whole secret
to her mother, but the undercurrent of her destiny prevailed.
With a kiss and a careful injunction to her that she should take
a book and read away her melancholy mood, Mrs. Tevis closed
the door upon her daughter, and she was left to the fulfillment
of her engagement, without dread or interruption.

It lacked but a few minutes of eleven, when Lilian descended
to the ladies' drawing-room of the Astor. She found it, as she
had presumed she should do, and as it usually is at that hour of
the morning, deserted. The deep window looking out upon St.
Paul's leafy church-yard, was unoccupied, and it was here that
she was to sit, as the clock struck eleven, and, with a book
pressed to her lips as an indication that she was “Ermengarde,”
and that “Ernest” was at liberty to approach and address her as
an acquaintance. Everything looked fortunately conspiring to
give pleasure to the interview. Not a guest had chanced to remain,
to overhear the conversation which would needs be embarrassing
enough, even were they alone; the shutters had been
closed to a twilight dimness by the servants; and the air of the
morning was of the genial and sweet temperature which favors
the interchange of the sympathies. The lovely and trembling
Quakeress of Rockybrook thought she never had breathed air
more delicious—in a city though she recognized its balm.

It lacked one minute to eleven. Was she watched? A head
was certainly thrust past the opening of the door, and as certainly
it seemed to her that it was the quick movement of her lover's.
How unspeakably embarrassing would be his entrance at that
moment! How should she explain her interview with a stranger?
By what name—knowing only the name of “Ernest” for him
whom she expected—should she introduce to Frank Brown the


Page 370
person with whom he would find her in conversation? Alas
these were difficulties against which she had neglected to provide
The punishment of her culpable concealments seemed now to be
inevitably upon her. Her heart, for that minute of suspense,
came to a stand still.

Eleven! She closed her eyes and pressed the book to her
lips, and, with her face turned away from the opening door,
awaited the approach of an entering and hesitating step, which
she overheard as the slow clock pealed out its heavy reverberations.
How should she speak! Her breath choked with the
quick pantings in her throat. She crowded the volume convulsively
to her lips, and dropped her head in utter confusion upon
her bosom.

But the step was near her. One whom she did not dare to
look on, had approached, and now stood silent and motionless
behind her. Another moment of stillness that seemed an eternity
to Lilian, and she felt a warm breath upon her temple.

“Ermengarde!” said a low voice, and, to her sudden and utter
consternation, a kiss was impressed upon her cheek, and an enclosing
arm drew her into its embrace!



And the revelation of the mystery dawned on the mind of the
astonished girl, for, in a voice of half-mischief, and half-tenderness,
he said:

“Not Frank, but `Ernest!'”

In the tight clasp of the lovers to each other's arms, which
occupied the next minute, there was not much explanation—but
there was no end to their wondering, afterward, how they possibly
could have been so in the dark as to their respective inner characters,


Page 371
how they should have lacked the confidingness to mingle
intellects as well as amusements and idle nothings, and how they
could have thought themselves lovers with the reserves which
they had cherished for other sympathies and admirations. It
served them as a lesson in the capability of one love for all the
interchanges of mind and heart, and taught them what might
have been deferred till it was far more difficult to learn—that it
is best to be sure, before going abroad for new varieties of happiness,
that the material for what we desire is not in the bosom that
already belongs to us.
As a wife to the poet and to the man,
Lilian easily and well played her part, and it was hard for either
to tell in which of the two characters of the other, life found its
more urgent want replied to.

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