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dangerous of men.” With the fairer portion of the earth, the natural resource is a French novel, or a poodle, inveterate scandal, or a cabinet council with Madame Vaurien, the most celebrated marchande that ever added loveliness to the lovely on the sunny side of the Apennines.
In this world of rapture and yawning, this central paradise of passion indescribable, and tediousness beyond a name, the Lady Matilda was gradually assimilating to the clime. She had already discovered that English reserve was a remnant of the original Pict, which could not be abolished too soon by an aspirant after the graces. The Polish prince was found to be essential to her toilet; the German potentate was the best carrier of an opera-glass within the limits of civilisation, and the ex-aide-de-camp of the ex-emperor was the soul of quadrilles, polonoises, and pas a la Turque. The fair Matilda was on the point of becoming a figurante of the most ardent quality- when Montfort stept in between her and this height of foreign fame. He was handsome, manly, and sincere. The heart of the lady recovered its right tone, like an instrument struck by the master's hand. The foreign plating was found light beside the solid material of his honourable heart and matured understanding. The mustached adorers grew tiresome. Foreign love-making is an art, and when the secret is found out, the whole affair is too easily copied to be worth caring for. But Montfort had not been long enough in the school to have acquired the style. He was in love, seriously, gravely, with his whole sober soul. Let the world, whether of St James's or St Petersburgh, say what it will, this is the true victor after all. "L'homme qui rit," says Voltaire, "n'est pas dangereux." The adage is true in more than politics. And when Montfort " pulled his hat upon his brows," forgot, like Hamlet, his custom of exercise, and saw this gentle heaven and earth but a pestilent congregation of vapours, when he was seen at Court only to be pronounced dull, and sat in the operabox of the brilliant Condessa di Cuor'ardente, like one of the carved Cupids on the back of her gilded chair, the English heart of the fair Matilda pronounced him instinctively
the most animated of all companions, the most intellectual of all envoys, and the most promising of all lords and masters to be. Obsolete as the phrase is, and suspicious as it makes the history, they were both prodigiously in love.
But the denouement lingered; for of all passions the true one has the least power of the tongue. That member which acquires such sudden faculties in general after a month of matrimony, is as generally paralysed a month before. Montfort, by nature eloquent, and by habit conversant in the happiest turns of levee language, found his art of speech unable to express what his footman could have told in three words. The Lady Matilda, the mistress of three languages, could not find one to say for her what lay before her glance in the first page of every novel on her dressing-table. But there is a time for all things, and the time for the recovery of their organs was at hand.
Montfort and his fair one had met at a bal masque-danced together, supped together, put on, and taken off their masks together. Still the mysterious word which each pined to utter, was unpronounced, when the lady chaperon came to declare that it was the hour of retiring. The command was like the law of the Medes and Persians, and Montfort saw with a sigh the withdrawing vision of that beauty which carried away all his aspirations. As he was leaning, in the true lover-like wistfulness, on the rose-wreathed balustrades of the concert-room, his ear was caught by a whisper from one of the attendants. The fellow was hurrying one of the fiddlers to get rid of his task, to change his silk draperies for a surtout, his instrument for a case of pistols, and be on the watch at the corner of the Casa Doralice. The name startled Montfort. The Lady Matilda tenanted the two-and-twenty marble salons of the Casa. He sprang from his position to seize his informant; but as the crowd were gathering at that moment round a Signora with an irresistible voice, and a panache presented to her by the Autocrat of all the Russias he might as well have charged a division of cuirassiers. The valet escaped, and Montfort's sole resource was to fly on the
wings of the wind to the Casa Doralice.
But when did "the course of true love run smooth ?" The night without was the most formidable contrast to the night within. Tempest in all its shapes was doing its wild will, from the Zenith to the Nadir. Thunder, lightning, and rain had met, as if by general consent, to celebrate their orgies over the capital of Tuscany. Cavalry, cabriolets, and chasseurs, all had disappeared, and the lover, raging with impatience, fear, and passion, felt how empty a thing it is to be but an ambassador, or even that more potential thing, the secretary to an ambassador.
However, the lady's danger prohibited delay, and throwing his cloak round him, he rushed into the deserted streets, through ways that might have repulsed Hannibal or Napoleon at the head of their braves, and under a deluge from skies and roofs, which left little to be filled up by the imagination on this side of Niagara.
The streets of Florence at the best of times share but little of the illumination of the nineteenth century. The little Virgins in the niches had all put out their lamps-the last ray of sanctity or safety had expired on the first blast, through a circuit of five miles of streets, that even in daylight make one of the most difficult tours of Europe. An Englishman in a foreign city, is proverbially of all animals the most easily perplexed. He loses his way by nature. Montfort was no more gifted with the " organ of direction" than the rest of his countrymen, and at the first turning from the palace, and while the flash of its hundred windows was still gleaming in his eyes, he was as much astray as if he had bivouacked in an American prairie.
But Cupid never deserts his true votaries. The storm which had drenched him, and the darkness which had forced him to feel his way from portico to portico, brought him full upon an overturned coach. A group of muffled figures were round it, and the twinkle of a lantern in one of their hands, showed him the fair Matilda fainting on the shoulder of a tall ruffian, with a
mask on his face, and a huge Inspruck cut-and-thrust flourishing in his hand.
This was an adventure in the esta blished style. A more considerate lover would have paused to ascer tain whether the design was upon the lady's person or her purse whether she was not carried off with her own consent, and whether ar intruder might not get the Inspruch cut-and-thrust through his præcor dia. But Montfort was in love l'Anglaise, which accounts for al kinds of frenzies. He rushed upor the group, they gathered roundthe leading cavalier,-some of the strag gling police came up,-a regula mêlée ensued. Pistol-shots wer fired, sabre-cuts were exchanged and after a skirmish of a few mo ments, in which the Italians though that they were assailed by the ma jesty of the fiends in person, th paroxysm finished by Montfort' finding the bandits fled, the stree empty, the chaperon clinging t his knees, the fair Matilda breathles in his arms, and the whole drenche from top to toe in sheets of immi tigable rain.
The morning rose in poetic glory Homer's Aurora never scattered he roses more profusely than on th skirts of the retiring storm. Th story of Montfort's heroism, and th lady's escape, had run through ever boudoir before its fair tenants ha drawn out the first papillot. rescue is, by all the laws of romance an irresistible claim. In the cours of that memorable day, Montfor found his lost faculty of speech, the Lady Matilda had acknowledged hi right to the hand which he had s gallantly preserved, and at her soirée the whole circle of the Tuscan comm il faut presented themselves wit renewed homage; the German Princ and M. le Comte alone sending thei excuses, as "suffering under sudde and severe colds." Their indisposi tion was severe, for the Court Chro nicle rapidly let out the secret. The Count's cold had taken the form of a pistol-shot in his knee, which dis qualified him for Mazurkas for life and the German Landgrave had, by the same unaccountable accident, received a sword-cut across his cheek, which laid it open, and swept away one half of his mustaches for the rest
of his days. The nature of the night's adventure was now disclosed, but the agents were gone. The German had made up his mind to carry off the heiress. The Count had nothing to do with his time, but a great deal to do with his last half rouleau of Napoleons. The German offered to make it a whole one. The Count's heroism was at his service to the last extremity. The affair was commonplace, and before a week it was numbered with the things that were. The close of that week brought a dispatch from England. A long, dry letter from a female cousin informed him, "by the Earl's desire," that he was now Lord Castleton, the last hope of the family; his elder brother having died of the combined effects of a steeple chase and a county election; fatigue and the due quantity of popular oratory finished the work of Oxford port, and the champagne of the Clarendon. The stamina of the young lord were not sufficiently iron for this discipline, and the British empire suddenly lost a legislator. The new lord was now summoned peremptorily to England. Montfort was distracted at the news. Of his brother he had seen but little, and known less. But the decencies of sorrow once done, how was he to leave his bel tesoro behind? The lady herself settled the question at once. She would marry him, when and where he pleased. "In Florence then," exclaimed the lover, "happiness cannot come too soon. “In England,” sighed the lady, "for I am determined in all things, in mind and in marriage, to be English." The sentiment raised her higher than ever in the Englishman's heart; "In England be it then." The carriages were ordered, the passports sealed, the farewells made, the couriers on horseback, and in twelve hours, the chaperon, the lady, the lover, and a whole caravan of whiskered valets and chaperoned femmes de chambre, were whirling on the noble road to
Genoa, the Comice, Nice, and that city where all the roads of the world meet, the city of cities,-London. The marriage was its circumstances. The weather was happy, under all summer, the season was the elite of a London winter, the ceremony was performed by an archbishop, the
ceeded its usual eloquence in the panegyric on the bride, the dresses, the breakfast, and the liveries; a royal duke handed the lady to her carriage, and the happy pair drove off amid the loudest acclamations of the most numerous crowd that had attended, within memory, at the Jermyn Street side of St James's.
A month of rapture passed; a second month, singular as the tale may be, and the young lord was on the point of commencing his third lune de miel, inconceivable as the idea is, when he received a double dispatch from the Earl and the Ministry, to come up to town. Rinaldo in the bower of Armida was never more startled by the recollection that he had still something to do in the world. The Earl's letter announced to him that he had been elected for one of the family boroughs; and the Minister's expressed, in the blandest terms of office, how signally his presence on the first night of the Session would be considered as a favour. Castleton flung the letters from him,
and vowed retirement for life. But his Matilda forbade the resolution like a heroine, and offered to accompany him instantly into the very focus of ambitious politics, Downing Street, if such should be the necessities of a lord and a legislator. Resistance to reason and smiles together was useless, and the bowers and fields were left behind with many a regret, but with Roman firmness; a long adieu was bade to streams and groves, and before the time so anxiously appointed by the Minister, the travelling-carriage-and-four of the married lovers was delving its way through the solid atmosphere of London.
Castleton's qualities were known to the leaders of office, and seldom as the emergencies of Tuscan diplomacy called on energies of a higher kind than the transmission of the Diario, or the folding of a letter, yet a man of talent will even fold
his letter in a way different from a dunce. His communications on his arrival, relative to Italian affairs, had intelligence, and the result was a given a striking impression of his note from the Premier, requesting him to propose the Address.
This request it was next to impos
equipages were built by the royal sible to decline. He showed the coachmaker, the Morning Post ex
note to the partner of all his secrets,
and she confirmed him in his acquiescence. He spoke the Address, was complimented by both sides of the House on its manliness and eloquence. The leader of Opposition "regretted that such abilities should have embarked in a cause so fatal to all the principles of the Constitution." The Premier silently shook him by the hand. The subordinates of the Ministry crowded round him with their congratulations, and as he passed through the lobby, his ear fed on a buzz which passed into his heart of hearts. From that day forth, Castleton was a politician.
Time flies, and neither men nor Ministries can escape its rules, as it passes by. The Session turbulent, the debates anxious, the Opposition stronger than ever. Castleton spoke often, and well.
while he was buckling on his armour for the national cause, retorting logic by logic, and earning hear hims innumerable from the Treasury bench, where was the Lady Matilda?-sitting alone, blinding her bright eyes with the last dreary novel, and longing to see the first grey light through the windows, which announced the hour of the division.
Castleton came duly home, but it was after a night of feverish excitement, with a pallid cheek and faltering tongue, to hurry, after a few words of kindness, to his chamber, and there linger out the day unseeing and unseen but by his wife, or perhaps his physician.
The lady remonstrated in vain.His constant reply was, that he owed a duty to his country which it would be unmanly not to fulfil. The Session would be over in a week, and then for the country, Matilda, and happiness again.
The week passed, but the Session had only grown more perplexed. The debates were now perpetual, and Castleton's assistance was felt to be
of so much value, that even his day was broken in upon by frequent summonses to Downing Street. On his return one morning after a debate of peculiar agitation, he found Matilda with her head resting on the table, beside which she had passed the night. She was asleep, and as he stepped softly towards her-the morning light fell on her features with a gleam so pallid, that he thought she was actually dead or dying. He
raised her in terror, and saw ther for the first time the full effect tha this watching and anxiety had produced on her young beauty.
"We must go to the country a once, Matilda," said he, pressing he pale cheek to his bosom; " this life does not suit either of us. Before to-morrow morning, we must b many a mile from this spot of perpe tual fever." Matilda was all deligh at the thought.
At dinner, a note marked "mos private and confidential," was hand ed to him. It was from the Minister requesting his "immediate presence. He found the great man in a state c serious agitation. "Lord Castleton, said he, "I have no reserves wit you; a man of your honour is mad to be trusted. That pitiful fellow, and he named one of the most bus ling members of his cabinet," is er deavouring to outwit us. I have cer tain knowledge that he is at this mo ment making terms with the enemy and that if we suffer him to remai among us another night, whereve the disgrace may lie, the fall will b ours." Castleton “fully agreed wit the view which his lordship had tɛ ken-he had long seen that a gam was going on, and he had only wan ed the Minister's permission to ex pose it."
The Premier half embraced him "You have now my full permission, was the answer; " and that you ma execute this act no less of justic than of public good with the mor weight, my colleagues have com. to a determination to request you acceptance of his office."
Castleton recoiled. The recollec tion of his promise flashed acros him; he declined the appointment high as it was, and gratifying to al his feelings."
But the Minister had too strong a interest in the question, to be repul sed by what he considered as mer political coquetry. The discussion lasted for a considerable time, during which Castleton was beaten from point to point, until, nothing loath he yielded, and walked home tha night to communicate to Matilda tha she was the wife of a Secretary o State.
The appointment justified the Mi nister's sagacity. Castleton, assistec by the impression of his new officia rank, produced a powerful effect ir
the House. The intriguer was the first to feel the change; and the indignant lashing which he received on the first attempt to defend and recriminate, put him out of the pale at once. Real talent is inevitably developed by the occasion, and the Secretary, in a short time, equally surprised his friends and enemies by his skill, activity, and force in debate. The tide now rapidly turned, and he had the honour of steering the lucky vessel of the Ministry into harbour. Opposition relaxed, and the Session closed with a triumphant majority for Ministers.
But what had become of the Secretary's lady meanwhile? A change had been wrought upon her still more signal than upon her ambitious lord. Her public rank had now placed her in the front of fashion. As the wife of one of the most prominent members of the Cabinet, she too had her "public duties to perform," her levees, patronages,her receptions. The court, the opera, and the petit souper, the most select of the select, an admission to which constituted of itself a title to the first society, and was the object of as much canvassing, and the source of as much jealousy, as the most distinguished honours of the state; and a perpetual round of amusements half official, and politics half pleasure, occupied every hour of the fair Matilda; still the watcher of the dawn, but no longer the pale, the pensive, or the solitary; but the high-rouged, the high-toned, and the highly-surrounded leader of those by whom every thing else is led, the beaux and beauties of the land.
The current of public affairs ran on prosperously, and Castleton was now openly named as the inevitable successor to the premiership on the first vacancy. He sat at the full banquet of power. He was ambitious, and every object that could awake or reward the ambition of man was within his grasp. But there were times when he felt that the spirit longs for simpler, yet not less substantial luxuries; and in the very proudest hours of office, with ambassadors crowding round him, and the fate of kingdoms all but depending on his will, he has found himself thinking of the fields and streams, the quiet meals, and the pleasant
VOL. XXXI. NO. CLXXXIX.
evenings, which he had forfeited for this fiery whirl of heart and brain.
The image of his wife, too, as he had seen her in their retirement, young, lovely, and fond, rose up to add at once beauty and melancholy to the picture. But where was she at that moment?-in the centre of the most heartless, nay, the most hazardous, life. The latter idea was rejected at once. Yet, if the thought was accidental, it reverted with new power. Some rumours at the Clubs, too, recurred painfully to his mind. He was inflexibly secure that the heart of the woman whom he had so thoroughly known, and so sincerely loved, could not suffer even a thought injurious to his feelings. Yet the thought would recur. To drive all suspicion from his mind, he plunged into business with more avidity than
One night as he was returning from a debate, protracted to an unusually late hour, a shower drove him into one of the Clubs in Pall-Mall, where he had been an absentee until his face was forgotten. Throwing himself into a corner beside the fire, he took up a newspaper, and was roving over the Ukraine, and following the fates of a Tartar incursion, when he heard his lady's name pronounced, and in something of a peculiar tone. The voice proceeded from a party lingering over their concluding bottle at the further end of the room.
The observation, be it what it might, found an answerer in one of the guests, who exclaimed theatrically, "Be thou as pure as snow, as chaste as ice,
Thou canst not escape, calumny!"
Calumny, none whatever!" was the reply. "But let the thing be true as it may, what else can you expect from the nature of the case? Here is a pretty woman, a very pretty woman, with as much money as she can spend, with rank, and every thing that rank can give, to make a pretty woman play the deuce."
"While my lord plays the Careless Husband,"" interrupted another. The point was considered worth a laugh, and the laugh was fully given. "Yet not so much the Careless Husband,' ," said another, as ““ the Fool of Quality. Here is now what is