« ПредишнаНапред »
She soon explained what her exclamation meant, by saying, “ Do you know there has been a great dispute between my aunt and cousin, Mrs. and Miss Mansell, and Mr. Granville, on the effect which his stanzas (for we all say they are his), which so pleased us yesterday, might, or ought to have on the lady addressed ; and, to be sure, there never was such an appropriate place for such a discussion as this. It is a poem itself; and if I were to stay here, I think I could make verses too."
My suspicions were all up in arms at this speech, for the place, as I have said, had generated the verses in question but two days before.
“But first,” continued Bertha, “let me introduce you to my aunt, Mrs. Mansell, and my cousin, Lucinda, and then they will go on with their argument with Mr. Granville."
So saying, and the introduction having passed, Granville, who quite laughed at the interest which the ladies seemed to take in it, returned to the subject. 6. Mrs. Mansell and her daughter, my cousin there,” said he, “ have the cruelty and injustice to say that the man who could secretly nurse his love, without encouragement or hope, must be a very simple or poorspirited wretch, not worth thinking about. I, on the contrary, applaud and like him for his modesty, and think that to have loved in secret, and persevered at humble distance, with no other ground for his hope than his wishes, denotes both a stronger and a purer devotion. Anybody can love whose love is returned ; but his must be attachment indeed, who, like Petrarch,
can cherish it without even declaring it, much less knowing whether, if declared, it would ever be accepted. What say you?”
“May I ask,” said I, with some hesitation, “which side Miss Hastings has taken ?"
“ Perhaps she will tell you,” cried Granville, rather mischievously; “but neither I nor these ladies can get her to declare her opinion, which she pretends to be on account of her inexperience, and the difficulty and delicacy of the question; and yet in a month more she will be seventeen, and is to come out.”
“If I were to be twenty,” observed Bertha, “I ought rather to be a listener than an arguer upon such a subject.”
“Your modesty ought not to let you off,” said Granville, “particularly as it is a question for the ladies alone to decide. The men can know nothing of it. Indeed, for that we have our cousin Mansell's authority there (pointing to him), who says he knows nothing about the matter."
“ And I don't wish to know," said Mansell, gruffly; “nay, I think the whole thing stuff and nonsense.”
“There I believe you," observed Bertha ; “ but I do also wish that I knew the author of the stanzas, and that we had him here; he would at least tell us what he meant himself, and whether, as Lucinda says, the supposition of mere gratuitous hope is impossible because unnatural. But I still think that Mr. Granville, who we all know is so romantic, is the author himself, though he tells us he got the lines from a friend. Who is that friend ? Do we know him ?!
o decide. "Y as it is a
Granville laughed, and answered, “What if I were to say you do ?”
Luckily he did not look at me, but without that I felt all over in consternation. I was hot and cold, and ready to run off, but was saved by the persuasion of Bertha, and indeed of all present, that Granville was the author, notwithstanding his disavowal ; so that they did not observe my emotion.
“ Ah !” said Miss Hastings, “it is mere affectation in you, cousin Granville, and not like a friend and relation, to deny it so uncandidly; and I dare say your friend, Mr. De Clifford, thinks so too."
“ Ask him," said Granville roguishly, “what he thinks was the author's own opinion upon the question—for he knows him too-indeed, they are sworn friends, and it was through him that I procured the stanzas.”
He uttered this, as I said, roguishly, and, not knowing where he would stop, I again began to be alarmed.
Bertha seemed surprised, and looked doubtingly at me, when Mrs. Mansell said, “ Perhaps, as Mr. De Clifford is a friend of the author, he may think as he does ; and if he will not inform us who he is, he may, at least, tell us what was his real opinion.”
Granville smiled again. I was more and more embarrassed, but thought I could best recover myself by adopting the character assigned me.
“ Certainly,” said I, “ I know the author, and think with him on most points, but particularly on this.”
“ And your common opinion," said Mrs. Mansell, - is
“ That hope is so buoyant, that nothing can make it sink, particularly the · Lover's Hope,' on which these stanzas turn; for if real love amounts, as it is said it does, to adoration, I can fancy love even without hope, so delicious in itself, that I could feed upon it and be happy, though banished for ever from the admired object.”
Here I observed with interest that Bertha seemed most attentive.
“ What !” cried Mrs. Mansell, “ though your mistress frowned upon you ?"
“ That I do not say,” replied I, “nor, as you will observe, does the author himself; for he asserts, in terpis, that though the cheek of his sovereign lady never glowed with love for him, yet,
*Upon her downy arched brows
“ True," said Miss Mansell ; “but that is not hope."
“Well then, even without hope," returned I, “I have a fancy that a man could be happy in feeding upon his love—that is, upon the attractions of his mistress's beauty, manners, and character, though he knew he had no chance of obtaining her.”
“ Indeed!” cried all the ladies.
“Yes; for I can fancy, nay, feel sure, that a man who doats to almost madness, but, like a subject in love with his queen, must feel himself hopeless, may still delight to nurse his passion, and would not exchange it for success elsewhere.” VOL. I.
66 This, indeed, is romantic, and at least, I should think, not very common,” said Bertha.
“ You think then with us, my dear,” observed her aunt.
“ 'Tis a thing I do not venture to think of at all," replied Bertha, whose young mind seemed afraid of advancing too far. “I must live long before I can be called upon to judge even of the possibility of the thing ; but if possible--".
“ What then ?” asked her aunt.
“ Why I should think such constancy, under such discouragement, would not, as it ought not, be thrown away.”
“ Ought not ?" asked Miss Mansell. « Could you, much more ought you, to love for mere constancy's sake, where you otherwise could not be inclined to do so ?”
“ I know not,” answered her cousin ; " but this I know, that kindness will always produce kindness in return; and if we love a dog or a bird because it is attached to us, much more ought we a human creature like ourselves.”
6. But how, where there is no kindness evident," said Mrs. Mansell, “ Mr. De Clifford's supposition can be realized, and love persisted in, without its being even known, is what I cannot imagine to be possible.”
« And yet,” observed I, “ ask the thousands who have gone mad for love, what hopes occasioned their feelings? They cannot answer. Or take my former supposition of a young and lovely queen, who enchants the air you breathe with her presence, or makes it hap