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in addition to her other injudicious habits, and the effects of their combined influence grew gradually apparent in her declining, or, as she liked to call it, her delicate health.
“Thoughts shut up want air,
And spoil like bales unopened to the sun." And nothing spoils without spoiling something else, especially that with which it lies in contact. Had Selina possessed a healthy instead of an unhealthy sensibility; cultivated real instead of a sickly sentiment; she would, nevertheless, under her circumstances, have suffered pain, but it would have been partial, and it would have quickened her sagacity to discover a shield for herself, and a cure for the faults by which she was" offended; while affection would have induced forbearance, and forbidden selfishness.
Selina's silent contempt effected a sort of moral distillation, converting all her feelings and impressions into poison, the corrosive action of which working on her mind, affected her temper and her frame, and she became a melancholy invalid.
• The concern and anxiety of her parents increased, and they made new efforts to induce her to change her habits, to which they justly attributed some share of her malady. But she, who loved to read and talk of the yielding nature of the female character, was unconquerably obstinate. It was in vain that she was urged to take walking exercise; she could not do it, though she could occasionally dance all night in the heated room of a subscription ball, or at a dancing master's academy. She was too delicate to walk; besides, it was so unladylike; the sight of the least mud shocked her; the people in the street were rude or rapid ; the carts and other carriages noisy; the dust and dirt insufferable. It was impossible to deny the existence of all the annoyances which she enumerated; the wonder seemed to be how other people supported or said so little about them. Selina solved the difficulty—they had no sensibility. Occasionally she would condescend to avail herself of the convenience of a hackney coach, but never without expressions of disgust at the vehicle, and lamentation that she had not a carriage of her own. On the sabbath her father usually hired a conveyance for the day, to carry himself and spouse a little jaunt into the country. Selina would never join them in these excursions, because all the vulgar and working world were abroad on that day. Hence away went Mr. and Mrs. Bullock of a Sunday; Selina sighed, staid at home, and sat looking through or over the venetian blinds.
Everything in and about the house was active and cheerful but herself; two women servants were kept, who were ever unconsciously reading her lessons of wisdom; for Sally would sing as she twirled her mop, and Betty would bandy jests with the baker and the brewer.'
"You love to dip your pencil, Pauline, into the colours of the caricaturist. It is highly delightful now to you to sketch this sentimental daughter of the shambles; but such a character is as ridiculous and as pernicious in a less antithetical scene. How do the daughters of men, conventionally above the butcher, such as the more opulent trader, the manufacturer, the merchant, the professional man, spend their time and employ their talents ? Those among
them who cannot afford to enter society or to entertain it at home, pass their days in that listless idleness which the lady's privilege, to do nothing, admits,-almost enjoins. So they stand, like your neighbour yonder, half the morning, and perhaps all the evening, looking over the parlour blinds, and deeming the sight of a passenger, who' varies the vapid minutes, and excites their slumbering faculties, a boon. In fact, were I asked what expression of countenance is most frequently absent from their faces, I should say the brightness which is incident to a mind full of some energetic and happy purpose.'
• Take care, Maria; when we speak of the expression of a populace, or a part of a populace, we ought to consider the many causes in operation to create discontent and despondency; there is the struggle to live, to ward off, to sustain, or conceal distress.
My dear Pauline, the people who feel public evils or private exigencies acutely are not the people who remain listless or appear apathetic. They do not sit down to repine; they rise up to repair; for they know that repining is but another make-weight in the scale of calamity. No, the women to whom I allude, so far from thinking about public ills or general distress, do not think of the evils or distresses often existing in their own homes, and which their inert habits and unhappy ignorance must tend to aggravate. All these women, and especially the more opulent portion of them, are united by the most endearing ties to men who are daily expending great personal toil, often intense mental exertion or anxiety, for the support of circumstances and style which does not yield them one hour's rational enjoyment out of the day. Did these women think and feel as human beings ought and might think and feel, would this slavish subservience of mental and moral properties to the accumulation of pecuniary property, its protection and display, subsist for another month? No, not for another hour. Were women those unfeminine things, politicians, philosophers, and political economists, in the best senses of those words, instead of being the pretty pets of gilded cages, with collars and chains of diamonds or pearls, they would, like the free bird, voluntarily help to build up the nest, and not admit into it an atom that was wrung from the excruciated energies of their mates; they would be animated by the wisest views for their offspring, their country-people, their species. Then man, instead of being, as he is, the slave of the slave (for men domestically are something like kings politically, flattered with the show of power, and defrauded, if usurpers can be defrauded, of the substance; for beneath the edifice of despotism subterraneous passages have been planned, and secret recesses sunk; and the tyrant, who treads his polished floors in fancied security, often falls, or is drawn through the traps connected with the hidden machinery created by folly, whim, or worse offsprings of suppressed or misdirected intellect and sensibility); men, instead of being as they are, the slave of the slave, would be elevated into friends and fellow-workers with beings full of active intelligence and open honest tenderness-attributes of universal human nature, but which the offices of wife and mother are perhaps most especially calculated to heighten and increase-attributes which, when developed under the influence of freedom and knowledge, will present images which the pen of the poet has never yet pictured, his fancy scarce conceived.
Oh, that I could pour my heart out to humanity, as of old they did libations to the gods, if that might propitiate those now supinely slumbering on their energies, or mischievously perverting them!
The false position of woman has created a world of wild mischief among mankind; her taking her true position only can repair it. Öh, that I could call her, and see her come forth like a redeeming angel-see her shut the dazzling casket of her cruel vanities, and open that which contains the resplendent spirit that God has given her-given her, not to be drossed by diamonds, but to be kindled by the bliss-giving power with which love and intelligence can endow it!'
• Never, Maria, do you and I get on with a story,' said Pauline. You are too fond of the moral, I of the graphic; thus the mere incident is smothered or lost sight of, between us. Pray dry your eyes, and come down into the every-day world again; to assist your descent look across the way at Miss Bullock, now Mrs. Button. From the period of her becoming marriageable, till her marriage, she passed her time to as little purpose as a dormouse, and thousands of women do the like.'
• Then who shall wonder,' interrupted Maria, ' at the unions they form. Why liking, let alone love, must be so welcome an excitement in the stupid scene they occupy, as to be hailed with eagerness, and little embarrassed by inquiry. Love, they say, is born of idleness; then it is that son of Nox and Erebus who so ill deserves the name he bears, and it is no matter of surprise that he takes wing after wedlock, when some of the business of life necessarily begins. The real god is born of sympathy, the offspring of intelligence and knowledge, and he grows in vigour in proportion to the beauty, excellence, and variety of pursuit in which he succeeds in uniting two congenial spirits.
* But to your heroine :-her bridal could have been no ordinary business; the white robe, the orange-flower chaplet, the
post-chaise, and departure through dusty roads for a distant and strange scene, must to her have been indispensable; or did she prefer a poor lieutenant's love, and a cottage, and an elopement ? Now do not hurry me on, Maria, in this uncomfortable man
I listen to your moralizing, and I expect you do the same by my descriptions.
Miss Bullock became a sort of willow, bending beneath every blast, moral or physical, which passed over her. Mrs. Bullock remained a kind of sturdy oak, refusing to bow before even a storm; but death, the “tremendous shadow,” which extinguishes the giant as easily as the glowworm, swept her away with a force as sudden as unseen !-once again he passed through Selina's home, but less hurriedly, and her father fell !
* Here let me pause to note a point of conduct peculiar to sickly sentimentality and morbid sensibility. Selina, who loved to weep over a pathetic fiction, was deficient of feeling and fortitude in the actual scene of sorrow; while the circumstances, which tell the proudest piece of humanity that it is but humanity, moved her with disgust and impatience. Not because she understood and appreciated the higher portion of human nature did she cherish this irritability, but because she did not understand, did not appreciate that portion. Her feeling was like the love that lives on mere personal beauty, and which falls away, like the caterpillar, when the leaf loses its freshness. If we properly love the nobler part of human nature, like the goddess who chose a mortal, we cast a veil of so much beauty over the common clay, as to create for it a charm even amid infirmity; and thus it is that enlightened love lingers at the chair of age, bends over the couch of disease, and casts itself upon the sod, where sleeps, at last, all that of the being so beloved could die.
• In fact, Selina was not " affected by the reality of distress touching her heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking her imagination-she pitied the plumage, but forgot the dying bird.” She wept, alas! too little at the couch of vulgar pain, though the sufferer was an affectionate father; but when he was dead she wore deep weepers, and melted over his memory.
• The time of sighs and sables passed away, and Selina stepped forth in virgin white, the possessor of a much more considerable fortune than she had expected. The vanity inseparable from such a character, which courts the gaze that it affects to shun, soon blazoned abroad the important fact, and Selina grew proportionably interesting in the eyes of many who had hỉtherto overlooked her.
· Not butchers, but bankers and barristers, were upon the muster roll of the circle which she called her friends. The weaknesses of her character, the habits which she had acquired in solitude, or from vulgar association, were subjects of ridicule which gave a relish to the breakfast of many a lounger who afterwards treacherously lavished upon her compliments and courtesies. Men, who should have put from them such thoughts as they would the fetid vapour of pestilence, suffered her guineas to gild her character, and sought her hand :-looked upon her imbecility not as a drawback upon the value of a wife, but as an addition to it.
• This has been the policy of all who desire to govern according to their own corrupt inclinations, instead of the broad principles of justice. Wisdom, elected by love, acts like the Creator, who gives light and air unto all, that all may grow glad and vigorous, happy and capable, to the utmost extent of the powers given : but craft, which has crept into power like a slug into a hive, through some reptile-gnawed chink, loves darkness, that his unsightliness in person and practice may not be seen.'
Who is moralizing now?' said Maria. • It is all your fault,' replied Pauline. “I catch the tiresome habit of you.
Now to return to Selina-
With richest proffers strove,
But never talked of love." Yes, Edwin, fortunately for him, he had been christened, and Mounteagle he was commonly called. What a combination for her fancy to feed upon! The pastoral and the powerful—the lover and the lord. “She adored him by instinct-sighed deeply to think that her own name was not Emma—the union of two such pretty names was so important an item in the article of happiness.
There was something foreign in Edwin's accent, which was “so nice," "so interesting ;" then his dark eyes and long black lashes, and a sentimental sallowness in his complexion, all suggested to her delighted fancy that he was not a common Saxon compound. At length, modest as he was, following her like her shadow, worshipping her with looks, not language, she learned from him that he had had an Andalusian mother.-Ecstatic discovery!!! And his father—she trembled lest that father's origin might break or abate the spell which the fair Spaniard breathed upon her son. But
his father had enriched his veins with the blood of the ancient kings of Ireland!!
• I have heard talk of the seventh heaven, I much question whether any ever inhaled its ether but Selina, when her HiberniaAndalusian lover declared himself, and endowed her with his heart, his honour, and an inheritance, which, though then hovering, like a vision, in the vista of probability, might, he told her, at no distant day, drop a coronet upon her peerless brow!
• To conclude a conversation which has run on too long.--In