Obrazy na stronie

colour of his gloves, may, as I before said, give offence, and direct against his person the raillery of those who, perhaps, have most loudly praised his works.

Absurd as these remarks may appear, they are, nevertheless, true. Often have I known such unworthy trifles as some of these I have described produce dislike, nay, injustice. An author comes into society, often tired and jaded from writing, to discharge some duty imposed by politeness; or simply to unbend his mind, its force and depth being reserved solely for his study. In his works is seen the profound, but clear stream of his unbroken thoughts ; but in society an occasional ripple only is perceived, that but faintly indicates the vigour, the majesty, of the under-current. The conversation of even the most distinguished writer is ever, more or less, influenced by the persons around him; and, like the

chameleon, it too often takes the hue of the nearest object. He adopts, perhaps, this particular tone, not for the purpose of displaying his own thoughts, for they attain publicity through the channel of his writings, but in the idea of suiting the moral calibre and temper of the often uncongenial circle in which he finds himself. Hence the disappointment experienced by those who, having known the author only by his works, find the man, however agreeable or even brilliant, possessed of, seemingly, very disproportioned powers.

I have been writing to you about critics, style, and authors, as if my mind were perfectly at ease : never was it less so, and I have trifled on these subjects to escape from one that engrosses every thought, every feeling. Strange that, conscious as I am of the hopelessness, the madness of the passion that consumes me, I cannot conquer it. In flight alone could I find safety, but I have not fortitude enough to banish myself from her I adore.

I can now sympathise with those who are the prey to an ungovernable affection, and believe all the follies to which it can lead its victims; yet am I more than ever sceptical that any man of honour could, under its inAuence, betray the woman he really loved, into guilt and shame. I have never, even in the wildest dreams of passion, pictured to myself the possibility of triumphing over her virtue. Nay, more; frail and selfish as is the nature of man, I have never even dared to desire such a result. She, pure and bright as she is, might look with the same pity on the sentiment she has given birth to in my breast, as that which angels are supposed to entertain for those almost idolatrous affections of mortals, which are extenuated, if not redeemed, by their intensity, and freedom from guilt. But never

shall this heart be laid bare to her who rules

it; for, if I dare not seek her compassion, I would not incur her contempt, by such an unhallowed avowal.

Ever, my dear Mordaunt,

Sincerely yours,




CHÈRE CAROLINE,- your last letter has given me great pain. How dreadful, that De Carency should have proved himself in every way so vile! How base must that man be, who betrays the errors to which his own duplicity gave birth! I could forgive his betrayal of my indiscretion, as, grace à Dieu! I have escaped

all the evil effects to which it might have led ; but, as you are still unmarried, this exposure of the faiblesse of your youth may be most mischievous.

I told Florestan, who was furious at the wretch's conduct. He says, that he lately heard that De Carency had been seen in a state of extreme poverty, to which his follies and crimes had reduced him ; that he was wholly abandoned by his family, whom he has disgraced, and was hardly to be recognised : such was the change wrought in him, by the dissolute life he has led. Would to heaven he were dead ! for he is always capable of annoying me, and exposing you, should it suit his plans

so to do.

How delightful it must have been, ma chère, to have lived in the time of l'ancien régime, when it was so easy to procure a lettre de cachet, and immure any troublesome person. Fancy

« PoprzedniaDalej »