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but, on the contrary, think they have so many different ones, that it is difficult to discover which prevails, it is, I dare say, from this very difficulty that my expectations have so often been disappointed.”
“ Are they then of so many characters?” asked I. “What says your own experience ?"
“ Alas!” returned I, “I have very little ; hardly any; for the only female I ever studied, had none of this variety. She was ever as uniformly good, and gracious, as she was beautiful.”
“ Indeed!” said my Mentor, and darted a penetrating look at me; but seeing I was embarrassed, very kindly observed, “ you have been more fortunate in your study than I, for as far as I have seen, what Romeo says of love may be applied to the very nature of those who cause it
'01 any thing, of nothing first created !
6 But I long for the cases,” said I.
“ Well," returned he, “take the wife of one of my best friends, who, it must be owned, married her rather precipitately, having only seen her a month at Bath. Never shall I forget the rapture with which he informed me that he had found a temper of the most exquisite and cheerful softness, after his own heart. His days would be all sunshine ; her smile was heaven, and she always smiled.
To do him justice, this appeared no more than what she deserved, for there was an expression in her countenance and an alacrity of obligingness in her manner that made me think with him. I congratulated him sincerely, and only wished that heaven had made me such a one. In truth, she seemed angelic." as And was she not ? ”
Why, yes; but her angelic nature was twofold; compounded of light, certainly, but also of darkness. For at the end of the first three months, I witnessed a quarrel that appalled me, and which, to recollect, appals me still. The dispute was not like that of Sir Charles and Lady Racket, whether a card played was a heart or a diamond,* but whether she should have an opera box, though he proved he could not afford it. To call him a poor beggar, who ought not to have married her, was the least of what he suffered. Spite of my presence, she seemed quite transformed with passion. Her eyes flashed, her brow scowled; scorn, anger, and resentment amounting to hatred, fired every feature. I could not have believed the rancour of a Fury could be so personified. Gentleness ! Mercy on us! every look was changed to wrath, and those beautiful locks, which had so enchanted my friend, seemed turned to snakes. Fearing she would strike him, and unwilling to witness such
* See Three Weeks after Marriage.
unseemliness, I fled the house with precipitation. They accommodated matters as well as they could, but my
friend was never his own man again, and never afterwards talked of sunshine." 6. This is deplorable,” said I.
66 I trust you
had not many disappointments of this sort ? ”
“ Not precisely of this spice of the devil under a fair outside,” answered he; “ but enough of follies in the place of expected virtues, and too many of ridiculous caprice and inconstancy, in lieu of seeming friendship.”
“ Par exemple ?”
“ The Lady Feignwell, who, from being my relation, I much studied. She was a peeress, not only of the highest fashion (which all peeresses are not), but perhaps the most accomplished woman in Europe. Highly cultivated; full of beautiful talents; music, dancing, drawing, languages; and, when she pleased, the most engaging, I may say the most fascinating manners that ever belonged to the sex. But then, with her inferiors in station at least, she pleased to be engaging only in the country. There she was affable as well as elegant, and seemingly fond of her neighbours, upon whom she showered civilities, making all her attractions tell, so as to produce a conviction in their minds that she loved their society. She would do the honours of her table, and lay herself out a whole evening to do the agreeable, as if they were
dukes and duchesses. She would call upon any particular family whom she was pleased to distinguish, three or four times a week, and would seem mightily hurt if not let in.
“ If sometimes the cloven foot appeared in regard to some whose rusticity she did not like, and their John Bull feelings resented it, she would then vote the sentimental, make such touching apologies, and take such blame to herself, that her slights, coupled with such self-blame, got her more friends than her condescensions. With some she would go so far as to profess her delight in thinking of intercourse with them in town. Will it be believed, that in town, she fled them like a pesti lence ? her own doors always closed; theirs never knocked at; or if perchance they met, looks cold as ice proclaiming the altered feeling. Yet with all this, she was not perfect even in her own class of character.”
66 How so ?”
“I have told you she was, or thought herself, sentimental ; affected the affable and condescending, though the farthest from it possible. Her waitingmaid (servants soon find us out) knew this, and having had a violent quarrel with her, purloined an old visiting book, with annotations in her own hand, which she, the waiting-maid, had often seen, and thought she could turn to account. Take some of the specimens; for though not printed, they
were shewn, and as I was then admitted
among the scandal-mongers, I was allowed a sight of them. In each page, and opposite each name, there were what were intitled notes, as follows:
· Mrs. Chitty.—Vulgar, but good (very good in the country). I shall let her remain ; but on no account visit in town.
Lady Hatchlands.--Hateful, but the fashion. I should like to drop, but shall be forced to keep her, on account of her cousin, the duke. I wish dukes would never marry commoners.
• Miss Colebrook.-Poor, but an excellent toady, and useful proneuse. Keep her too, though she does ask for tickets too often.
Lady Dumbleton.—Too pushing for a person merely rich.
Will know one at the opera, all I can do. Besides, has a heap of odious relations. To cut them all dead. No matter what they say.
• Duchess of Carberry.—A bore-but a duchess. Must remain.
· Mr. Smirk.--An author and a lion, writes beautifully, but wears thirds and knee-buckles. Won't do.
• Mrs. Saltoun.- My earliest bosom friend : used to be very fond of her ; but she married a city physician. Cannot possibly go so far.
· Evelina. - Another early and dear friend. But she missed that match with Lord B. I was so set