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the comfort of shutting up such a man as this, and so effecting two good purposes : the first, that of preventing his giving publicity to the secret he knows; and the second, the precluding him from further disgracing his family. Yes, those times were, indeed, infinitely preferable to these, when one cannot shut up even a worthless menial, unless the law so will it. All the privileges and immunities of la noblesse are destroyed ; and, except for the pleasure of having a coronet emblazoned on one's carriage and plate, there is no advantage to be derived from a title. What a sad state of things !
I like the conduct of your little romantic friend, Lady Annandale, very much, in this affair of the disclosure; for her romanticism
seems to spring from the heart, and not the
head, qui fait toute la difference. I value hers the more, as here, l'école romantique is founded on the imagination; it is an effervescence of
sentimentality, that operates not on the affections, nor influences the conduct. the most romantic people are precisely those who have the least real feeling; while, with you, au contraire, the romantic seems to spring from the heart.
Such a woman could not be happy, according to her notions, with a man like her husband; and half the women in the world, and particularly Englishwomen, will only be happy in their own way, a species of conduct which is if you, ma chère, will permit a very homely comparison -- like that of a hungry man,
who determines to appease his appetite with certain viands only, which, not being able to procure, he refuses to accept any substitute; or, if he accepts, murmurs at the disappointment. This is a folly peculiar to woman, and betrays a great want of philosophy: but, though I am aware it is a weakness, I pity those who are its victims.
Lady Annandale would require such a man for a husband as you describe Lord Nottingham to be; and, having missed him (a sad mistake!), will probably be consoled by having him for a friend, until she finds that friendship between a beautiful young woman and a highly gifted, sentimental man, is rather a dangerous experiment. She will love him; and, being romanesque, this sentiment, instead of reconeiling her to her destiny, will make her more than ever dissatisfied with it.
With some women, love and crime seem inseparable. She will first fear him she loves, then herself, and, afterwards, all that seems to encourage the sentiment, until she has rendered her lover unhappy, and herself miserable.
Women like your friend were not born to bestow, or enjoy happiness, except in the legitimate way; consequently, I fear all your schemes will but tend to increase her discomforts, unless
you could persuade her caro sposo to die, and so leave her honourably free to wed Lord Nottingham. Even then, I doubt her being happy. She would, the moment her good lord was gathered to his ancestors, begin to find out that she had not been so aimable to him as she might have been. Forgetting all his defects, she would magnify her own ; endow the dear deceased with all manner of good qualities, and, because she could not love him while he lived, mourn for him, when dead, with an obstinacy that might lead her to shut out the future consolations of a more fortunate union.
I have seen one or two examples of this folly, in women precisely of the same character and temperament as you describe Lady Annandale to possess — people who, not finding it possible to be happy in their own way, refuse to be so in any other. Now, I am one of those practical people who, eager for happiness, or even its semblance (which often does nearly as well — on the same principle, that the portrait of a lover consoles us, in some degree, for his absence), grasp at every substitute that offers to replace the rarely attainable and unalloyed good. The result is, that I seldom torment others, and never myself.
I wish you could infuse a little of my philosophy into the mind of Lady Annandale, and then all might be well. Nay, I know not, chère Caroline, if you also have not occasion for some portion of it, notwithstanding your imagined proficiency in the science. Your philosophy is not, I can already begin to perceive, a very practical one; or, if so, is more exercised towards others than self. With all the advantages of travel, and a perfect knowledge of society on the Continent, you have never been able to master the effects of an atrabilarious temperament, peculiar to