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vigorous power of Victor Hugo; the mysticism and sentimentality of Balzac; the passion and eloquence of George Sand; the maritime descriptions of Eugène Sue; the comique of Paul de Kock; and the hardiesse of Jules Janin. The man, instead of being charmed, looked perfectly petrified ; and, without replying to me, turned to Augusta, and asked her, with a look of undissembled alarm, whether she had read those authors ? A weight seemed taken off his mind when she answered in the negative, and stated, that the only modern French books she was in the habit of perusing, were those of Chateaubriand, De Lamartine, and Casimir de la Vigne.
They are the writers that I also read," said Lord Nottingham, " and the ones that I should pl.ce in the hands of a wife, or sister.”
“ You surely cannot be so very English which, with me, is a synonyme for prudish-as to object to a young lady's perusal of the authors I have named?” asked I; “ authors, whose works contain the truest pictures of
“ There is much, very much in actual life, Miss Montressor, of which I should wish a wife or sister of mine, to remain in total ignorance. On this point I am ready to exclaim with the poet,
“Give me a friend, within whose well-poised mind
“Oh! you,” I resumed, " are one of those who would treat women as pretty puppets, formed for your playthings, and not admit us to a free communion of that knowledge of which you are so proud ?”
“I would debar your sex from no part of the knowledge of which ours ought to be proud; but, I do not think, in proscribing the modern authors you have enumerated, such a motive could be fairly attributed to me. I would have the reading of women confined to works of which the morality and purity might serve to strengthen their own; and I can no more approve of placing in their hands books that tend to make them acquainted with all the vices that sully human nature, however well portrayed, than I should approve their witnessing the scenes where such vices are committed, as a useful philosophical lesson. Women, Miss Montressor, according to my opinion, should know no more of the crimes of human nature, than they do of the fearful maladies to which it is subject. You would not have our matrons study anatomy, or visit the hospitals, in order to see to what infirmities flesh is heir; it is enough for them to be aware that mortal beings are sometimes sorely smitten by loathsome diseases, without investigating, or studying them : so, is it sufficient for them to know, that vice and error exist, without analytically examining the symptoms, causes, and effects, so artistically displayed in the authors to whom you have referred.”
“ You, probably, think we are only good, because we are what you would call innocent, and what I term ignorant, Lord Nottingham?”
“ Happy and charming, I am are, only while you are innocent,” he replied ; “ for, a knowledge of evil, even though it guard from a participation in it, leaves a stain on the purity of the female mind, and a cloud on its brightness : for a high-souled woman, while abhorring the crimes she discovers, where she thought all was fair, must pity while abhorring; and deep pity dims happiness."
Augusta listened to him with an attention I never before saw her pay to any one; her eyes were fixed on his expressive face, which, always handsome, was now lighted up with increased animation; and I marked her turn from him, to look at the man who was, the next day, to become her husband, with a glance in which neither affection nor approbation was visible - to my eyes, at least. She was probably at that moment drawing a comparison between the two, not advantageous to the latter.
In this little discussion, and during the pauses of Lord Nottingham, Lord Annandale defended my favourite authors with more zeal than ability; consequently, his flimsy arguments rather injured than served my cause.
Surely, my dear Nottingham, you are unjustly severe?- Bah! mon ami, you are too prudish. . What can be more droll, or more