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Toby and Le Fevre, or the wit that belongs to old Shandy!"
“ Even so; unless, as it luckily often happens, that in this wit and pathos I am so beguiled, that I forget the bad husband and pretended lover of virtue.”
66 And Rousseau ?”
“ There I am very clear; for in all his most eloquent touches, I never do, and never can, forget the hypocritical sophist—the avowed thief-the false witness-the deserter of his offspring. No, Melford, do not be led astray by the meteor of false sentiment, into the deceit of thinking evil good, or good evil; or that a woman's virtue does not heighten her charms, even to a man of pleasure. But, as to the meretricious attractions of the persons you have mentioned, be assured, what I always thought, and now know, is true; that one kind look, one soft pressure of the hand, from the wife of your heart, who loves you, and knows you love her, is worth a whole harem of purchased favours."
This address seemed by no means thrown away upon him to whom it was directed, for he not only shewed signs of being beat, but of inward distress, for which, when I thought of what had caused this change in his character, I heartily pitied him.
Nor was it lost upon any of us, least of all upon myself; for I conceived both liking and respect for Brownlow, who did honour to that undefinable character, a man of fashion ; and I was glad, by Granville's particular introduction to him, to add so worthily to the list of my select acquaintance.
Having outstaid the company, Granville gave me the following account of Brownlow:
“ He is a man of fortune,” said he, 66 good family, and of the best monde ; or, as Shakspeare would
say, of great admittance.' He has been as much what is called a man of pleasure, as a pure taste and fine mind would permit him to be, so as to have acquired much knowledge of the ways, perhaps of the corruptions of society, without being corrupted himself. His talents for pure and good criticism threw him at one time a good deal into the theatrical world, where his judgment was much respected, and his notice courted by the women as much as the men ; and hence Melford's allusions. But, if not his virtue, his taste, in regard to the sex, of which you saw a good specimen, kept him pure in those opinions which he so well enforced ; and in this he was the more lucky, for, previous to his present happiness in marriage with a woman of great beauty and merit, he was a warm and ill-used lover.” 66 Ha !” cried I;
was such a man ill-used ? Disappointed, perhaps ?”
Downright jilted." 66 You amaze me !"
“ I thought I should ; and I am not sorry that you have seen him thus flourishing and happy, because I had him often in my mind when I told you that a man might love to distraction, and yet recover ; nay, as in this gentleman's instance, rejoice in his failure in one place, for his far superior happiness in another."
“ This must be an interesting history,” said I.
“ It is; but not on account of any particular adventures—any romance—but merely from the completeness of his recovery, and his achievement afterwards of the most perfect felicity, from a state of seemingly the most torturing desolation.”
This excited me more and more, and I told Granville he was too slow in his narration.
“ You will be more impatient as we go on," said he, “ for the love between him and his first mistress commenced when he was a youth and she a girl.” 6 Good. But pray go
on." “ Her father, a country gentleman, was one of his guardians; he sometimes passed a vacation from college with them, and the woods and fields, the primroses and nightingales, produced their usual effect; in short, they fell violently in love with each other, though Elizabeth felt the indications of it first, and so ingenuously confessed it, that it operated most with him in producing the passion he felt on his part.
As we were schoolfellows
and fellow-collegians, I speak with full information."
“ Pray get on," said I.
“Well ; eternal constancy, as usual, was vowed ; the match approved by papa, when a few year's should have matured it, both being so young; meantime, correspondence, and a vast et cæteraquæ nunc perscribere longum est.
“ As I was his confidant, I heard all his accounts of her beauty and merits, and sometimes saw them together; but, except in the common attractions of youth, freshness, and good humour, and a seemingly entire devotion to him, I perceived nothing to justify the frenzy which afterwards ensued on his disappointment." “ There was frenzy, then ?"
Scarcely short of it, I assure you. · He was but one-and-twenty when, though his own letters had begun to be not over warm, he complained that her's were growing cold, and this excited him from a tolerably tame, engaged lover, into one agitated with fears and uncertainties. He thought Elizabeth the most enchanting person upon earth; no one like her ; he was perpetually invoking her name, and wrote most passionately; till her own warmth continuing to fall off, he could bear it no longer, and though scarcely of age, he resolved to bring the matter to a point, by insisting upon the immediate fulfilment of the engagement, or a breach of it for ever.
“ To his then dismay, and after happiness, the breach was preferred. A winter at Bath, while he was immersed in Oxford studies, and the offers of a headlong young peer, just out of leading-strings, had undermined him; his betrothed was faithless, and he was undone."
“ How could such a person,” asked I, “ have such consequence with him as to occasion the misery you say he suffered ?"
“ Ask,” replied Granville, “those who understand the unintelligible subject of love, in all its million of forms and colours, to explain it, for I could as soon square the circle as tell you. All that I could really gather from it was, that real love is the most difficult thing in the world to discover; so many of its symptoms, and those the most marked and violent, being usurped by other passions.
“ In this case, as I told you, my friend seemed frantic with disappointment. He exhibited sometimes a paroxysm of rage-sometimes a silent mournfulness, not the less pitiable, because I thought the occasion of it was unworthy. He was so sunk in bitterness as to loathe all his former occupations, whether of amusement or instruction, and even his food. He would estrange himself from company for weeks, and, like a Camillo, plunge into the depths of the forest of Dean, near which he dwelt, shunning every thing cheerful, and wholly absorbed by the disgust that consumed him.