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even thought. How different from this, when I used to quit your bedside of an evening, at that peaceful Esparbez, happy to think that my little nursing had made you feel easier, and that the return of health would soon be at hand.”
“My dearest Constance," said the marchioness, now in her turn greatly affected,“ how can I ever love you sufficiently for all this, or tell you, notwithstanding my raillery, how I join in your recollections of that dear old place, where the recovery of health set off every thing with delight, and all that we said or did seemed a feast of love."
At these words these two amiable women embraced, nor did the difference of their ages seem to make any difference in the affection with which they regarded each other, or in the feeling which the remembrance of the old scenes of their happiness together had called forth, Indeed, there was always something in the manner and looks of Lady Clanellan that shed a charm over every thịng she said or did, and banished every notion of age.
The fond of her character was a most serious rectitude, which might have been called severe, but that all appear. ance of severity was softened, if not lost, in the cheerful nature of her goodness. Hence, she was always surrounded by young people, who gave their hearts to her as to one of their own age, and few were the secrets they could conceal from her. Her great love for Constance, therefore, made her seriously anxious to trace out (which she knew she could easily do) whether any thing really lay at her heart. But except that that heart had a void in it, which not all her splendid occupations, all her brilliant pleasures, nay, even her friends and admirers, could all, and that this void created languor, self-blame, and indifference to every thing that surrounded her, the marchioness could discover little real disease of mind.
Yet with so much goodness, so many accomplishments, so much aptitude for natural happiness, and with all the appliances of the world to boot,—that the world should fail in satisfying her both moved and baffled conjecture. At the same time, the marchioness observed that by far the most preponderating interest with Constance was the conduct of her father, in allowing Clayton to unseat her cousin Mortimer,
This was, in fact, the original cause of her distress, from its having drawn down the displeasure of Lord Mowbray, and excited her fears that she had departed from her duty as a daughter, and, perhaps, even from the retenue of a delicate woman. In this, therefore, she required all the assurances of her friend that she had not overstepped decorum or the duty of her situation. She, indeed, could hardly accept the unhesitating approbation which the marchioness bestowed upon her endeavour to defeat what she called the scandalous conspiracy of Clayton to defraud an honourable man of his right; and she compromised the matter by averring, that as she interfered only from the supposition that Clayton could not be approved by Lord Mowbray, so she must now suppose herself wrong, and abandon her cousin altogether.
Lady Clanellan, however she might lament the circumstance, could not but applaud her rectitude; and with this assurance, little consoling as it was, this soft-minded girl took leave of the subject, and of her friend, to dress herself in smiles, and preside at a dinner of twenty covers.
Here her fine manners made their usual impression, and she was set down, even by the serious, as a glass in which all young women might dress themselves; by the careless as a high-fortuned mortal, who could not have a care. And thus we might see confirmed the moral thought of a quaint old strain :
“Though with forced mirth we oft may sooth a smart,
What seemeth well may not be well, I ween;
The noble Brutus
WHILE what we have just related was going on in the little world of thought which constituted the mind of Constance, an awful event happened in the greater world that surrounded her, which fixed the public attention,
plunged many into grief, and afforded a fëarful lesson to all.
Among the few friends who did not desërt Mr. Wentworth on the late changes was a person of whom, though we have had no occasion hitherto to mention him, the nation had on a variety of accounts conceived the highest hopes. Son of a man in family and fortune of the first consequence in the state, and thus favoured by birth and wealth, he was equally favoured by nature from his genius and attainments. He had the gift of eloquence superior to all his contemporaries save Wentworth alone; and his high heart, though touched strongly with ambition, was filled with sincerity, and also with a sensibility which was always ready to overflow. These qualities, how ever, strange as it may seem, betrayed him sometimes *into what, in the minds even of persons far his inferiors, gave an air of weakness to some parts of his conduct: for he more than once had been made the victim of an overweening confidence in men whom he had trusted, but who proved not trustworthy; and'his sensibility was so keen to every thing, right or wrong, which could affect his reputation, that his fancy often conjured up spectres appalling to his happiness. On such occasions he was, unfortunately, so hasty that no one could answer for consequences. These were his faults, and dearly did he answer them.
The English, however, of all nations on earthi, are calculated to love and adopt such a character as their own; and, accordingly, from his first entry into public life, Mr. Beaufort inspired his countrymen with the warmest interest for his success, and the firmest reliance upon his patriotism.
Nor were they wrong; for had there been a question between the interests of his country and his own, even had his life been the alternative, he would not have hesitated which to prefer.
To De Vere's great delight, there reigned the purest harmony between this gentleman and Mr. Wentworth. Their admiration was mutual, and no jealousy had hitherto sprung up, like a mildewed ear, to blast their hopeful alliance. Mr. Beaufort, with all his ambition, and distinguished as he was, had willingly submitted to the higher fortune of his friend, and successfully fought under him as his lieutenant, with a loyalty that was un blemished.
We may suppose, that to a minister of Lord Oldcastle's penetration the acquisition of such a man, when he had determined to separate from his former colleague, was every way of the highest consequence. Of value as a support to himself, to detach him from being the support of his antagonist became of tenfold importance; and accordingly, no attempt was left untried to obtain him. But Mr. Beaufort was above all the temptations of power or wealth which Lord Oldcastle could offer. Both his principles and his engagements devoted him to the exminister. He had attended the meeting at Mowbray House, and that he had done so was all the answer he condescended to give Lord Oldcastle, when the latter applied to him in person, or through the numerous agents, direct and indirect, whom he afterward employed. Happy had Beaufort been equally firm against the sway of all other feelings and mistaken notions, as he was against temptations which applied themselves only to his interest.
Mr. Wentworth, at this time particularly, had distinguished himself upon one of those questions involving the personal character and conduct of the actors concerned, which, whenever they occur, excite the feeling and interest of the nation to an absorbing degree.
After developing, with warm indignation, the intrigues to which he would not stoop, but to which, he said, he had fallen a sacrifice, he unmasked the views of his opponents, particularly of the minister himself, with a force of honest invective which made them tremble ; and he drew a comparison between them, in their success from such arts, and himself, in his failure from the want of the which left them
in possession of no superiority over him in the minds of his auditors.
But he gained all hearts when he wound up with a dignified and philosophic description of the sort of ambition he courted, and the fortune which alone he followed; welcome, he said, if virtuously attained; despised, if offered at the expense of virtue. This sentiment he classically clothed in a beautiful passage from his favourite author, with which, when he closed his speech, he seemed to electrify the House :mm
"Laudo manentem; si celeres quatit
Pennas, resigno guæ dedit, et mea
Virtute me involvo, probamque
The eloquence of this harangue, particularly of the last sentiment, was cheered by all Mr. Wentworth's hearers; by none more than by the enthusiastic Beaufort. Alas! it was the last cheer he ever gave.
Mr. Wentworth's party had already visibly increased; and the high ground which Lord Oldcastle had taken seemed, insensibly to others, but obviously to himself, to be slipping from under him. With all his talents, he was not a bold politician, and he felt it was absolutely necessary either to create jealousies in the opposite party, so as to disunite their strength, or to abandon his post to Wentworth, who he knew would accept of no office under him. To gain Beaufort alone had been tried in vain; to gain him as the chief of a party, with Wentworth under him, might yet be attempted. To an extended offer, including Wentworth himself, he might listen without loss of honour: if accepted, a ground for discontent was laid; if rejected, jealousy would still probably be the consequence. A messenger was therefore sent to Beaufort in form, to desire a meeting, to consider of a new government, and, as was added, by command of him who had a right to command it. In this, the object of the premier was refined beyond all ordinary rules. He knew that to exclude Wentworth would be unavailing; but he might lower him, which would almost equally answer his purpose. Wentworth, the immoveable, the proud, the aspiring CHIEF, was the object of all Lord Oldcastle's fear; but the lieutenant of another, he would instantly be degraded, and probably disarmed. He therefore resolved to try the effect of an offer to Beaufort, even to the extent of one-half of the government, without the excluding clause as to Wentworth, which had hitherto made all attempts abortive. The only stipulation, therefore, which he resolved to make, was, that the treaty should be conducted by Beaufort alone, and as a necessary consequence, that Beaufort should be considered by the
* Thus given by Francis, speaking of Fortune :
“I can applaud her while she stays;
But if she shake her rapid wings,
The richest gitts her favour brings;