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called a man of talents, and I fairly allow him the possession. He is, in fact, a fellow of great public powers; and yet, while he is haranguing away by the hour, convincing, explaining, and certainly giving Opposition as much to do as they can manage, he leaves his house open to every lordling, guardsman, or foreign puppy, that takes the trouble to pay his devoirs."
"But can he help it ?" observed
"Not without making himself ridiculous. Jealousy of any kind is out of fashion, but jealousy in a Secretary of State would set the world a-laughing. No, the man must submit to his fate. If he must be pinned to the desk all day, and to Parlia ment all night-if he must have separate meals, separate equipages, separate friends, and separate beds -the consequence is as plain as the sun at mid-noon, which either of the parties so seldom has an opportunity of seeing."
"Come, you are too hard upon the world," said a would-be moralist. "The lady has exhibited no decided penchant, and, in that case, the more adorers the safer."
"Yes, as in a multitude of counsellors there is safety," said another, laughing-" A proverb which has as little of the practical in it, as any in the whole round of human wisdom. Why, I could name half-a-dozen, horse, foot, and dragoons, who carry on a regular fire of sentimentality with her ladyship, are as essential to her as her waiting-maid, who swear that they could carry her off to Scotland or Kamschatka, in a twist of their mustaches."
Castleton sprung on his feet; and was about to rush upon the throat of the speaker. But a moment's recollection checked him. He stood in an agony, that need not have been envied by the criminal on the gibbet. His head grew dizzy, his eyes grew dim. He hastily swallowed a glass of water that stood beside him, or he must have fainted. When he had recovered, the party, disturbed by his movement, had separated, and gone down stairs.
He reached home. It was a night of gala. Lady Castleton had given a masquerade, to which the whole beau monde had pressed in a lévée en masse. All London had been ra
ving of it for the last month. choice of costumes, the hopes of ge ting tickets, the terror of not gettin them, the showy anticipations of fancy ball, given by the most show leader of the exclusive world, ha kept the pillows of the fair and nob restless; or, as Johnson says, on scarcely more anxious occasion, tl amnesty at the Restoration," awol the flutter of innumerable bosoms The night came; the ball was give and the master of the mansion e tered his house with no more kno ledge of the proceedings under roof than if he had dropped from t
No man at least could have be less in the temper to enjoy the fes vity. The glare and glitter, the m titude, every thing round him ove powered his eye and feelings alil and, after an attempt to exchan civilities with a few of the perso who had been fortunate enough establish a position on the landir place, he retired to his chamber a threw himself on the sofa-which had not pressed for a fortnight oratory and diplomacy-to get rid the world and its revellers, and f asleep, for once, without caring f "the Division."
But to sleep was impossible. T conversation at the club-room car with fresh keenness upon his min A domino, one of the dozen change which the spirit of his fair wife w to undergo during the night, had, 1 some accident made its way into 1 apartment; he flung it over him, ai hurried down, and figured among t bacchanals and bashaws, shepher esses of the Alps, and suitors wrappe up to the chin in their silks and fu of Doria and Dandolo. For the m ment Castleton determined to enj‹ the scene. But he found himse unconsciously looking for the lac of the fete, and at length asked a s perb Spanish cavalier, lounging i stately idleness over his sherbe whether Lady Castleton had made her appearance among quers. "I presume, not till supper, was the Don's easy answer, cc he ladyship is too supreme bon ton' t appear in the mêlée, that she se dancing and yawning here. Beside after all, it depends on the reignir chevalier whether she appears at all
Castleton gave an involuntary star The Don, pleased with having som
thing to say, and some one to listen to it, disburthened his soul. "Her ladyship is a beauty and a belle; but where are the advantages of either, unless they are enjoyed? She loves admiration, as every fine woman does. It is paid to her as every fine woman receives it, by right divine; and if, within a month or a minute, she shall take a trip to the continent, under the protection of her Polish Count, or retire to the soft solitudes of the lakes, under the guidance of her Colonel of the Blues, the whole matter will be, as you know, selon les regles."
Castleton's inmost feelings were wrung by this unconscious tormentor. That the man to whom so many knees bowed, that the Noble, that the leader of the leading interests of the State, should thus degenerate into the subject of a sneer among the triflers of society, was a sting to his proud heart. But that the sneer should be fastened on him in that relation, where every man feels most sensitively, and where he had once fixed all his hopes of personal happiness, was an agony. Still he paused. To find out his wife instantly, to declare his indignation at the career which she was running, to expel with the most marked ignominy, on the spot, the whole train of parasites or lovers, or under whatever title they brought his wife's fair fame into the public mouth, was his first impulse. But then his knowledge of human nature told him how little insight he should gain, into the real state of the case, by this public explosion; how irretrievable he would make the offence; nay, how possible it was that the whole was the mere thoughtless complaisance of a gay and lovely woman, with the supposed necessities of her position at the head of fashionable life. His purpose softened, her beauty rose before him, the homefelt enjoyment of those hours, when party had not checked the current of domestic life, to pour the whole force of his head and heart among the rocks and precipices of public life, recurred with a selfaccusing sensation to his memory. The air of the splendid saloon, vast as it was, suddenly felt hot, in tolerably hot, to this sufferer under the fever of the mind. The glare of the innumerable lights vexed and
smote his eye; he threw himself into one of those recesses, that, covered with shrubs and flowers, make the little temporary retreats of the guests for coolness and air.
A picture of Lady Castleton, hung in the alcove, caught his glance. It had been painted in her Tuscan excursion; and the costume, the loveliness, and the look of innocent animation, instantly brought back the whole scene. << Why," he almost audibly exclaimed, " are we not now as we were then? Or why am I now the husband of a gaudy, glittering thing, with a heart for none, or for all; turning my house into a caravansary, and giving my name to be scoffed at by every coxcomb who will condescend to waste an hour upon her extravagant entertainments? And yet, is it not the nature of woman to be fond and faithful, until she is cast off from her natural protection? Have I done the duty which I owed to her weakness? Have I not given up to office the time and the thoughts, that in common gratitude, if not in common justice, I ought to have given to a being who trusted herself, her fortune, and her hopes of happy and honourable life to me, in preference to all mankind?" The meditation was broken off by the sound of voices on the other side of the little screen of shrubs; the voices rose gradually from a whisper, and Castleton heard their words before he could distinguish the tones of the speakers. The topic was the very one which had just occupied himself. One of the party was evidently urging the other to some hazardous step, by arguments drawn from the remissness of a husband. The reply was half serious, half gay, but the badinage of the lady seemed only to encourage the gentleman to presume further, until he ended with a direct proposition to fly from the roof of a husband who palpably neglected her, or probably was anxious only to urge her, by this open insult, to break their mutual chain. The proposal was received in silence, which seemed the silence of consent; but it was soon evident that it was the silence of indignation. The lady reproached the tempter with the folly which had made him construe the common acquiescences of fashionable life into crime; and declaring that she
would instantly denounce the offender to her husband, attempted to withdraw.
"Your husband!" was the answer, " and where will you look for him? If truth must be told, is it not notorious, that you are as much separated from each other, as if you were already divorced; that he pursues one mistress, Ambition, or perhaps twenty other mistresses more nameless, and leaves you to solitude and neglect? How often in the last month have you seen the face of the husband to whom you profess yourself so much attached? Bound you may be, but attached, pardon me, is totally impossible."
No reply followed; the indignation had given way to tears. Come," said the tempter, "let those tears be the last that you shall ever shed under this roof. All is ready to convey you from the house of a cold-blooded and careless tyrant, who, before all the world, treats you with a contempt not to be endured by youth, birth, and beauty, and convey you where you will be received with honour, and treated with the homage due to loveliness and Lady Castleton."
"Villain! let loose my hands!" were the only words that Castleton could hear, before he had burst through the screen, and stood before the astonished pair. The gentleman was the identical French Ex-Count, who two years before, in the streets of Florence, had received Castleton's pistol shot, and who, with the double object of gratifying his revenge, and of carrying off the handsome settlement of the handsome heiress, had availed himself of the first moment of his recovery, to ask passports for England, and present himself at her ladyship's levee. The Count was a dancer no more, for the pistol ball had spoiled his talent in that direction, but he made charades, sung canzonettes, played the guitar, and was a Frenchman! qualifications which are found irresistible with the sex, and which naturally authorized him to think himself indispensable to the brilliant lady of the Minister, and as they have done to a host of brilliant ladies, who having spent six months beyond the Channel, are thenceforth entitled to feel the exquisite superiority of the foreign graces. But in the present instance
the Count had calculated too rapidly and the lady, who had indulged hin with her smiles, was perfectly sur prised at the accomplished stranger' expecting more than smiles. She ha flung him from her, with a sincerity that perfectly surprised the French man in turn. He was a ruffian, an would probably have dragged he reluctant ladyship to the chaise an pair, which he had waiting for th result of his argument, but Castle, ton's sudden presence put an end t this portion of the plan; and th Count had scarcely begun to make speech, "accounting for appearance in the most satisfactory manner, when the indignant husband's gras was on his throat. The struggle wa brief, but it was effective. Castleto was strong, but if he had possessed b the nerves of an infant, his towerir indignation would have given hi vigour. To drag the offender throug the saloon would have been tediou and have attracted attention. alternative was the window, an through the window was flung th Count. It was, fortunately for h limbs, not high, and it opened int the garden. He alighted in grea astonishment, and, in a whirlwind c sacres, made solitary use of tha post-chaise which was to have carrie along with him the matchless "mis tress of his soul," and restorer ( his fallen finances, and took th Dover road, inventing epigrams o the country, fierce enough to mak England wish herself at the botton of the sea.
Castleton turned to his lady. He too, had his share of astonishment he had expected a contrite speech clasped hands, and a flood of tears He saw none of the three. But the lady laughed; as far as bienseance will suffer so rude a thing as laugh ter to derange the etiquette of a high born physiognomy. She extended to him one of the fairest possible hands. "You seem to be horribly. angry with the Count, my dear lord," said she, "but he is excusable from the manners of his country. I hope you have broke none of my poor admirer's limbs. He must live by his talents, and if you disfigure him, he will be excluded from giving lessons on the guitar to any woman of fashion."
Her husband listened in undissembled wrath. "6 Madam," he at
length exclaimed," am I to believe my senses? Can this tone be serious? It would better become you to fall on your knees, and thank Heaven for having saved you from the miseries of a life, the most contemptible, the most wretched, and the most hateful that can fall to the lot of a human being." He turned to leave her he gave a last glance. She still smiled. "I beg but one thing, my dear lord," said she, once more holding out the lovely hand; "if those can be your real sentiments, that you will keep them as private as possible. They are totally tramontane in this part of the world, however they may exist in Westminster. Attentions from all men are considered a natural tribute on their part, to women of a certain rank; and to refuse them, would be an absolute breach of decorum on ours. At least, these are the lessons which I understand to be essential to the leaders of society; and as your lordship has been too much occupied by higher pursuits, to care what I learned, or who were my teachers, I have only availed myself of such instructions as make the law of fashion."
"And this is your ladyship's determination," said Castleton, sternly. Certainly, until your lordship shall condescend to teach me better," said the lady, sportively. Her husband, without look or word more, quitted the apartment. The lady rejoined her guests, was more animated, more brilliant, and more admired than ever-was the soul of every thing gay and graceful, till the morning sun, breaking in through curtains and casements, began to make those discoveries in exhausted complexions and dilapidated ringlets, which drive beauty to her couch, saw the last fairy foot glide over the last semblance of the chalked lilies and roses on her floors, heard the last clang of the last steeds over the parè of her court-yard, and then retired to her chamber, to take a miniature of her husband from its case, and weep over it, and sleep with it
hid in her bosom.
memory. In the midst of this glory, she herself was the guiding star, the most glittering where all was bright; but the rouge covered a cheek which was growing paler and paler, and the jewels covered a bosom filled with pangs, that the envied possessor of all this opulence felt preying on her existence.
Castleton had turned to his old career with still more activity and success. His mind, once at rest upon the subject of Lady Castleton's fame, and feeling that he might confide in her honour, if he had lost her heart, he determined to forget domestic cares in the whirl of public life. Distinctions now flowed in upon him irrepressibly, as they do upon the favourites of Fortune. A new step in the peerage only ushered in his Majesty's most gracious commands, "that he should lay the basis of a new administration." In another week he was Premier. He had now attained the height for which he had panted; but he had now attained all that once brightened the future, and he feelingly discovered the truth, that hope is essential even to the vigour of ambition. In the loftiness of his public rank, he experienced the
common sensation of all men who
have nothing more to gain, and whose anxieties now turn on what they have to lose. In the full blaze of prosperity, he felt chillness of heart growing upon him. To his own wonder, the generous, the daring, the ardent aspirant, was gradually withering into the suspicious, the anxious, and the stern possessor of power. The discovery pained him still more than it surprised him. He had now been for some months habitually estranged from home; and the newspapers, in their notices of routs and concerts, alone gave him the intimation that his establishment was splendid as ever, his mansion still the temple of the great and the fair, and his lady the presiding priestess of the temple. An involuntary sigh broke from him, as the memory of gentler days came across his mind.
He would have thrown off the chains
The season flourished still, and of office, of which he now felt noLady Castleton was now more in- thing but the weight; the gilding had contestably than ever, the sovereign long lost all its temptation to his eye. of the season. Her fêtes were de- But" national emergencies, the will corated by more counts, ambassa- of a sovereign, the necessity of keepdors, and lords of principalities, from ing Administration together," the Siberia to the Seine, than any within cloud of reasons that gather over the
understanding when we are yet irresolute in the right, bewildered even the strong mind of the Minister,
He was roused from one of those meditations, by his valet's announcing that he would be too late for the "drawing-room." It was the last of the season, and he must attend. With a heavy and an irritated heart, he obeyed the tyranny of etiquette, and drove to St James's. Nothing could be more gracious than his reception; but while he was in the very sunshine of royal conversation, a face passed him that obliterated even the presence of royalty. It was pale and thin, through all the artifices of dress. No magnificence could disguise the fact, that some secret grief was feeding on the roses there. The face was still beautiful and beaming, but the lustre of the eye was dim. It was Lady Castleton. Both bowed, and a hurried word was exchanged, they passed out of the circle together, and returned to their home together. The phenomenon excited more astonishment than a treaty between the Knights of Malta and the Algerines. It was the universal topic of the evening. The next day, the fact transpired that Lord and Lady Castleton had sent their apolo gies to the noble mansions at which they were respectively to have dined, and were surmised to have even dined tête-a-tête. Expectation was now fully afloat, and the news followed that a succession of equipages had started from his lordship's mansion at an early hour on the day after the drawing-room. But one wonder more was to be completed, and the wonder came the announcement to the Peers and Commons that a new Ministry was about to be formed, "the Lord Castleton having, from ill health, resigned." The reason was, like the friar's beard in Rabelais, partly the work of nature, and partly of convenience. The Premier's frame had been sinking under the anxieties of his mind, and if he had delayed his retirement from office a year longer, it must have closed with a retirement into his grave.
Castleton and his lovely lady were forgotten in an eternity of three months; and as his lordship was no Meltonian, nor her ladyship the president of a mission for teaching the peasantry to preach in the unknown tongue,they thus threw away the natural means of keeping their names alive.
They remained in their exile for the intermediate period of five years under the unimaginable penalties of a noble mansion, a lovely land scape round them, a grateful tenant try, and a life full of the diversified occupations of intelligent minds, de termined to do what good they can in their day. At the end of the five years they returned to London, o their way to a summer tour amon the glories of the Swiss Alps. Tim had made formidable inroads amon their circle. The beauties had be come blues, and the blues had be come card-players, critics, and go gons. Nine-tenths of the lady's a quaintances had become terrible b yond all power of the toilet.
His lordship's friends had felt tl common fate, in the shape of loss office, or loss of money; claret ha extinguished some-gout had ma‹ an example of others-and a ne Parliament had so unfortunately e empted others from the duty of ten ing the public interests, that the had summarily crossed the Briti Channel, to study ways and mea of their own.
Castleton was in the prime of li and health, and was rustic enoug to think the dulness of the count more wholesome, and even more int resting, than any number of nigh spent between the House and t Clubs. His lady was now the m ther of four children, wild and love as the wild flowers of their nati meadows. She had recovered h beauty; no fictitious colour was no required to give the rose or lily one of the finest countenances of w man. She had the health of the min Her spirit was not now wasted flashing at midnight over a crowd sumptuous and weary revellers; hers was the lamp that threw its s cred light over the sacredness home. She honoured her husba for his talents, his acquirements, a his fame, but she loved him for h heart. He had made a high sacrifi for her; and she was proud of hi and the sacrifice. Neither count n prince was now found essential her existence. Her husband's prais was worth the incense of a kneelin circle of sovereigns. Castleton w an English husband to her; she w an English wife to him, and the nam includes all the names of love, ho nour, and happiness.