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state of society, or the history of the human mind. She read a great deal; book after book I saw her carry up to her own room , and the intense interest with which I watched, without daring to question her, made me closely observe her course of reading. Her mind eemed to feed upon it, and her intellect to expand; but at the same time her cheek grew pale, and in the expression of her countenance, what once was peace, had become composure; and in her character, what had been only simplicity, had grown into reserve. Her eyes were often rivetted upon Henry, with an expression not of love or of fear, but of deep and painful interest.
It was at the end of the third week in October that we moved to London, and that I took possession of my new house there.
Alice‘s confinement was near at hand, and so was the departure of my uncle and aunt. This was a pang which some time before would have been inexpressibly painful to me, but now I grieved over it — more from the recollection of what had once been my happiness with my aunt, and of the manner in which that happiness had passed away, than from the actual grief of separation itself. Since my marriage, her manner to me, without being cold, had grown constrained, and she had often been on the point of giving utterance to something that seemed to agitate and distress her, but which had, however, never passed her lips. I fancied it might have reference to Henry and Alice, and I dreaded so much 'ner speaking to me on a subject on which, alas! I could give no explanation, nor in any way change my own conduct, that instead of seeking her society during those last days in London, I, on the contrary, avoided it, and shrunk with nervous dread from being alone with her. They went; and when she took leave of me, she folded me in her arms, and whispered in my ear, “ God guide thee -- God bless thee! my beloved child I ”
I hid my face in her bosom; and the burning tears which I shed there, were my only answer to a blessing which seemed to heap coals of fire on my head. I turned from the window whence I had watched their departure, and a sense of desola~ tion took possession of me. I had never opened my heart to her; I had never told her that I was wretched; but if at any moment the cup was too full, and my heartpstrings stretched to bursting, I' could turn to her and say, “My soul is heavy within me," and she never said, “Why is it thus with you?" She never told me that life was fair, and my share of its blessings great, and that I ought to be happy. She did not know that I was miserable — but she felt it; and to me, young, strong and blooming as I then was—to me the idol of the man I adored —the spoilt child of fortune— she had in those moments the heart’s instinct to say —- “Earth, my child, has a grave; and in Heaven there is rest."
We went for the few days which intervened between Mr. and Mrs. Middleton’s departure and the meeting of parliament, to the Moores’ at Hampstead; and I enjoyed more quiet there than I had done since we had left Hillscombe.
Rosa was absent; and the society might have been reckoned dull; but to me it was a time of comparative peace, and sometimes almost of happiness.
Edward was in good spirits; and the emotion which he evinced on seeing again the spot where our destinies had been sealed, was a proof how truly he loved me. (And, oh, with what tenderness, with what affection, I regarded him; but how I feared him too, and with what moral weariness I strove to keep up before him, in very fear, the appearance of that character which he fondly supposed me to possess. He sternly reproved me for each act, for each word, that fell short of that standard of perfection which his imagination had drawn. He attributed to me merits and qualities which I did not possess; but, on the other hand, he looked upon me as a spoilt and fanciful child, who must be taught to see life as it is, and to fulfil its every-day duties. His praise and his blame depressed and discouraged me alike.
I was idle, for repose was a strange luxury to my weary spirit; and Edward gave me books to read, and plans to draw , and subjects to discuss, and called me severely to task when my eye was abstracted, and my manner listless. As long as he spoke to me of his affection, —- as long as he listened, with fond delight, to the words of love which I addressed to him, —- I forgot every painful thought, every fear, and every regret, in the happiness of the moment; but as soon as my attention was forced away from ourselves, and directed to abstract subjects, it wandered to the thousand objects of alarm and disquietude which compassed me about.
When Edward spoke to me of establishing family prayers in our house, I tremblingly objected. I went to church as often as he did; but always let him draw near to the altar alone; for, unforgiven, unabsolved, unreconciled, I dared not approach it. .
On the Sunday which we spent at Hampstead, and on which this occurred, I wandered about the churchyard in solitary wretchedness , as if a spirit of evil had possession of me, and kept me away
" From Marcy's inmost shrine."
When Edward joined me again, he was low and depressed; there was a struggle in his countenance, and we walked home in silence.
In the evening, as I was sitting writing in my own room, he came in; there was a deep shade of gloom in his face; and when I knelt by his side, and threw my arms round his neck he disengaged himself from me, and, leaning his head on his hand, said, with a voice of emotion, “I little thought when we married, that on the most sacred of all subjects, we felt so differently.”
I drew from my bosom a paper, on which I had been writing the following lines, and held it out to him: —
“Self-banished, self-condemned, I stand alone ,
I kneel; but my clasped hands are raised in vain;
No sacred accents, from her shattered chords;
But is there not a strange mysterious cry,
A mute appeal in each unconscious sigh —
A silent prayer in every secret tear,
Which man disccrns not, but which God will hear?"
Edward gave me back the paper, and said coldly, “Poetry is not religion; and sentiment is not piety.”
“But they may lead to them , Edward.”
“ They mislead you , I fear.”
He turned away and took up a book; so did I: it was the Bible; and as I opened it, my eyes fell on the following passage: — “Hadst thou know, even thou, in this thy day the things which belong to thy peace, but now they are bid from thy sight." How long? my God, how long?
Upon our return to town, I found how much truth there had been in Henry’s remark, that for the present London would suit me better than any other place. He had foreseen and calculated upon what, in fact, did happen.
I felt an involuntary relief in the way in which Edward’s time was taken up, and his attention engrossed by a variety of afl‘airs relative to his estates, as well as by a diligent attendance upon the House of Commons. When he came home to a late dinner, or took a short ride with me in the park, there was in those brief moments so much to talk about, so much to interest us both, such intense enjoyment in each other’s society, that there was no opportunity for Edward to find fault with me, or for me to show him anything of that wayward and gloomy abstraction which irritated and displeased him. The echo of his step, the sound of his voice, Was like music in my ears; and as I rushed to meet him, with a bright smile and an eager welcome, he received me with a tenderness which was too often changed to severity, when , in an hourly association, he had to observe the thousand faults which markedthe course of my daily life.
There is no existence much more lonely than that of a weman just married, whose husband is constantly engaged in business, or in politics, and who happens to have no near relations or intimate friends about her. This was the case with me; I had formed none of those intimacies which fill up so large a portion in a woman’s life; and the love of reading and of study; which had been strong in my girlish days, had latterly completely given way to the necessity for constant stimulus and excitement.
I found it, unfortunately , in Henry’s society. As a matter of course, he was admitted to me whenever he called, and he assumed that the order, or the prayer, whichever it was, that had prevented his leaving us, gave him an indisputable right to maintain, in their fullest extent, these privileges of intimacy, which the nearuess of our connection, as well as the ties that had bound as to each other, had established between us.
I had so often vainly struggled to assert my independence, that I felt afraid and ashamed of entering into further contests with him. There seemed to be more dignity in submitting, to a certain extent, to his demands, than in renewing those harassing scenes which we had so often gone through. I allowed him, day after day, to sit for hours alone with me; to read to me the most exciting books; to discuss with me subjects of the deepest interest; and to talk of his attachment to me in a way which I new never attempted to check.
Nothing could be more baneful to my character than such a state of things. The very struggle to appear better than 1 was in Edward’s eyes , wearisome as I often found it, kept up a certain degree of straining after better things, and some remorse at the contrast which the reality presented to the outward appearance.
With Henry, on the contrary, there was no necessity to conceal the evil that was in me; and the moral gave way to the waywardness and impetuosity of my undisciplined charac- ter, the more he fed me with that most insidious of poisons, the constant homage of a blind and passionate admiration.
The beginning of that winter in London was one of those periods of false peace which sometimes occur in our lives. My hardened conscience, like the guilty prophet’s of old, prophesied peace where there was no peace, and spoke smooth things