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“By the way,” added she, “I saw you rather occupied last night with that very
brilliant person, Falconer, who, though this is only her first season, has already turned the heads of half the town. She has as much fortune, they say, as beauty ; and her tournure, you see, is perfect. Now, suppose you try a little experiment upon yourself, and see whether this superb sultana (a very contrast to Miss Hastings) may not cause some diversion in your feelings.”
Though she said this sportingly, and, as she afterwards allowed, to see whether I could be diverted or not, I did not like Lady Hungerford for this, and said perhaps somewhat resentfully,
“ Your ladyship does well to laugh at my very impertinent feelings, and has indeed said well, that these two ladies are a contrast to one another. Oh, how great a one !"
“Be it so,” returned Lady Hungerford; and (again to try me) she observed that Miss Falconer, in the opinion of all judges, from her singularly fine manners, taste, and elegance, would, she thought, be preferred by everybody, to a girl brought up in the country, however highly allied.
“ That may be, madam," said I ; “ but an illustration from your favourite science of music shall be my answer. A simple but touching and pathetic melody, which thrills the heart, and perhaps fills the eyes with tears, may for a time be eclipsed by
an elaborate, magnificent sinfonia, full of imposing and learned accompaniments; and so a beautiful girl, decked only in the simple charms of a sweet nature, may seem veiled for a time, when a court comes sweeping by, in all the pomp of majesty and gold. But as the charm of the melody returns upon the sense, and is cherished long after the scientific and imposing sinfonia is forgotten; so the beautiful daughter of nature, I have supposed, renews and maintains her place in the heart long after all the finery of the court has ceased to be remembered.”
• Upon my word, fair Sir,” said Lady Hungerford, “ there might be a worse exposition, and I could pardon much imprudence to so much elegance of fancy as well as constancy. Nor am I sorry to have sounded you by what I said of a diversion, since it lets me into the truth of what your friend Mr. Granville believed was once a ruling passion, but he thought it had subsided. I grieve to think his opinion was not well founded. But there must be an end to imprudence, when it swells into madness; and though I dare say you will hate me for telling you so, it is absolute madness to foster this affection. The bar I have told you is insuperable--were you as rich as you are well born, you could not succeed—the passion must be conquered."
“ Be assured, madam,” replied I, somewhat
moved, “it would not be easy for me to hate you for any thing, much less for what, I trust I am not too presumptuous in thinking proceeds from good will towards me, however unworthy of it."
“ Nay,” returned my protectress (for I cannot help calling her so), “ do not disqualify yourself, but rather turn your qualifications to account. Mr. Granville informed me he had once told
you there was more than one Miss Hastings in the world ; and, much as I love and admire her, I agree with him. I will not recur again to a diversion to which you are properly superior, and to which I only adverted as a trial, for which I ought to ask pardon. But there are other objects, not less intense, more prudent, and even more honourable in your position; I mean the pursuit of your ambition, so well begun, and the study of the world in which you may be hereafter conspicuous. These the indulgence of this secret passion may cruelly thwart. How many thousands of young men would give their little fingers to be where you are, at the expense, easy to them, of eradicating even a stronger attachment than this!"
“Stronger! madam!” exclaimed I. “I am sorry you think so meanly of me.” And seizing my hat, and with a deep sigh, I took leave so suddenly and unceremoniously that I
found myself in the street before Lady Hungerford could offer any thing in reply. And so ended an experiment conceived and made to promote the happiness of another, but which lamentably conduced to the deterioration of my own.
IN ORDER TO RECOVER FROM MY RUINOUS AT
TACHMENT I THROW MYSELF MORE AND MORE
UPON THE TOWN, IN THE REVIEW OF ITS DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.-A DINNER AT LORD CASTLETON'S, WHERE I MEET A GREAT CRITIC.
CHARACTER OF MR. JOHN PARAGRAPH.
What foolish master taught you these manners, Sir John ?
SHAKSPEARE. —2 Henry IV. THE interview with Lady Hungerford, recorded in the last chapter, did me no good, and I felt rightly served for endeavouring to discover a lady's secret, when I had one of my own which I wished to conceal, if possible, from myself; for, from the thousand scenes of another sort in which I was now engaged, I had begun to hope that I was really independent of that absorbing feeling which had tinged all my early years, with some pleasure indeed, but more pain.
'Tis true I was affected and pleased with the