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from the East and West Indies. My father bestowed upon me the best education which this country could afford; and it was his plan, after I had finished my studies at the University, and had arrived at that age when I could see and judge for myself, that I should make the tour of Europe. The period destined for this purpose approached, and I was taking measures to prepare for it. Almost the only disagreeable feeling I had in leaving my native country for a few years, was the taking leave of a young lady for whom I had formed the most sincere and warm attachment. Aspasia was beautiful in her person, and not less lovely in her mind. Endowed with the most tender sensibility, she possessed at the same time a purity and an ingenuousness of character, which to me was most enchanting. There was a simplicity and innocence in all her thoughts and actions, which seemed to realise those pictures the poets have given us of the golden age. Warmly interested as I felt myself in her, and attentive as I was to her every word and action, I at times thought I could discover that I had also created an interest in her mind, though perhaps even she herself was not conscious of it.
"I hesitated long, before I set out on my travels, whether I should disclose to her the sentiments of my heart. The reasons for this step were so obvious, that they need not be mentioned; but, on the other hand, strong motives dissuaded me against it. It was impossible for me to settle in life till my return from abroad; and though I was resolved to consider myself as most strictly engaged to her, yet it struck me as a want of generosity and confidence, to bring her under any obligation, or to restrain the subsequent freedom of her choice by any tie that looked only to futurity. This motive prevailed with me. Our last parting was inexpressibly tender; and
though not a word escaped me which could indicate the situation of my heart, yet she must have been blind indeed if she did not discover how dear she was to me.
"During the time I was abroad I heard repeatedly concerning Aspasia. The last accounts I received of her gave me much uneasiness. I was informed, that she had of late been much in public places; that she discovered a fondness for dress, a vanity and love of admiration unworthy of her, and unlike her former deportment. I trembled at those reports; unsuitable as they were to her former character, I began to think that the very purity and simplicity of soul which I had so much admired in her, might, when she came to mingle in the world, put her off her guard, and render her more a prey, than one of a less pure mind, to the seductions of vanity and folly. I recollected a remark which I had some. where met with, that the finest natures are the most apt to be hurt, as the finest plants are the soonest nipped by the frost; and that, like those plants, they require to be sheltered and guarded to prevent their being blasted.
"In a state of anxiety which cannot easily be described, I shortened the remaining period of my being abroad, and returned home as soon as I possibly could. On my arrival I learned that Aspasia had fallen a prey to the seductions of vanity, and to that warmth of mind which made her the dupe of appearances-alas! I fear, the martyr of deception! The story is too long for my recital at present; nor can I yet easily bear its recollection-let me only tell you, that she had forgotten Hortensius, and six weeks before my arrival had married a young coxcomb, who in reality had nothing but what she thought fashion and a pair of colours to recommend him.
"Upon my return home, I found parliament was on the eve of a dissolution, and that different candidates had already declared themselves for the next election. My father, who had died while I was abroad, had, in a former parliament, represented the county in which our principal family-estate was situated; my friends now proposed to me to start candidate. To this proposal I felt a good deal of reluctance: and the late severe shock I had met with increased my unwillingness. Nevertheless the very weakness of mind which that affliction had created, made me the more easily put myself under the direction of my friends; and I yielded to their solicitations. On looking over the list of voters, I found that a considerable part of them were particularly connected with myself; and others were young men who had been my school-companions, and had since remained my intimate acquaintance. From many of them I had messages welcoming my return to the country, and giving at the same time oblique hints of the propriety of my setting up as candidate, and of the certainty of my meeting with success.
Encouraged by such hopes, I began my canvas; and wherever I went I was favourably received. I was repeatedly advised to persist; and though I did not obtain promises from many, was constantly flattered with assurances that I should not be disappointed. My opponent was a man new and unknown in the country, but who had lately purchased an estate in it, and had brought home an immense fortune from India, which, it was said, gave him considerable influence in the direction of affairs in that quarter of the world. I was repeatedly told, that one so well known, and so much esteemed in the country as I was, whose family had been so long and so much respected there, had nothing to fear from a stranger. The day of election, however, was drawing nigh;
and I now made another round of the county, expecting to have something more than general good wishes and flattering assurances of success. Though I still heard those good wishes and recommendations to continue my canvas as strongly expressed as ever, yet I found in those friends and well-wishers a still greater backwardness than before to bind themselves by engagements. On expressing my astonishment at this to Atticus, one of the few friends who had from the first engaged himself to me in the warmest manner, he expressed himself as follows:- Be not surprised, my dear Hortensius; the longer a man lives in the world, he will find less reason to be surprised at any thing. I have for some time seen how matters were going. Those friends in whom you trusted the most, who were the warmest in pushing you to stand candidate, neither mean now, nor ever meant to serve you; their only object was to serve themselves. They wished you to stand, not that you might gain your election, but that there might be a contest in the county. Before you appeared they knew that Sir Thomas Booty was to be candidate ; they knew his great influence, and they were resolved he should be their representative. But they wished not to dispose of their votes too cheaply; they wished to have their value enhanced by the dread of a competitor. Your family, your connexions, the respectableness of your character, made you be considered as a person from whom Sir Thomas might expect a powerful opposition, and to prevail over whom promises and favours would be thought necessary: such promises and favours have not been wanting. In a word, his fortune and interest at court are greater than yours, and that private friendship you so much relied on has been found light in the balance.'
"These words of Atticus made a deep impression
on me. I now recollected a thousand circumstances which proved their truth. I at once took my resolution, and immediately declared that I gave up the competition, and left the field to Sir Thomas. No sooner was this known, than my good and trusty friends came all flocking to me, and expressed their astonishment at the step I had taken. They assured me that I had given up the canvas with a most improper precipitation. I now too well understood their conduct; I gave them a civil answer, and despised them.
"Thus disappointed in the two great objects of the human heart, love and ambition, I formed the resolution of quitting the promiscuous society of the world, of abandoning a town-life, and betaking myself to solitude and retirement in the country. I now remembered to have read at college, that the goods of life were of two kinds, those which were external, and those which were internal; that the first were transient, uncertain, and derived from the will of others; that the last were durable, certain, and self-derived; that the person who made the last his choice, placed his happiness on a sure foundation, on a rock above the rage of the fighting elements, and inaccessible to all the attacks of Fortune. On this foundation I now resolved to build my happiness.
"Besides the family-estate in the county where my unfortunate project of ambition had taken place, I was possessed of a small property, situated in a remote part of the kingdom, but amidst the most beautiful and romantic scenery. Here I resolved to take up my residence for the future days of my life, to enter no more into the busy and ambitious pur. suits of the world, but to enjoy the innocent, the undisturbed, the elegant pleasures of solitude and retirement, In the seat of my intended residence