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Chapter 10

THUS sad and disarranged were the thoughts of my poor sister, when she
became assured of the infidelity of Raymond. All her virtues and all her
defects tended to make the blow incurable. Her affection for me, her
brother, for Adrian and Idris, was subject as it were to the reigning
passion of her heart; even her maternal tenderness borrowed half its force
from the delight she had in tracing Raymond's features and expression in
the infant's countenance. She had been reserved and even stern in
childhood; but love had softened the asperities of her character, and her
union with Raymond had caused her talents and affections to unfold
themselves; the one betrayed, and the other lost, she in some degree
returned to her ancient disposition. The concentrated pride of her nature,
forgotten during her blissful dream, awoke, and with its adder's sting
pierced her heart; her humility of spirit augmented the power of the venom;
she had been exalted in her own estimation, while distinguished by his
love: of what worth was she, now that he thrust her from this preferment?
She had been proud of having won and preserved him--but another had won
him from her, and her exultation was as cold as a water quenched ember.

We, in our retirement, remained long in ignorance of her misfortune. Soon
after the festival she had sent for her child, and then she seemed to have
forgotten us. Adrian observed a change during a visit that he afterward
paid them; but he could not tell its extent, or divine the cause. They
still appeared in public together, and lived under the same roof. Raymond
was as usual courteous, though there was, on occasions, an unbidden
haughtiness, or painful abruptness in his manners, which startled his
gentle friend; his brow was not clouded but disdain sat on his lips, and
his voice was harsh. Perdita was all kindness and attention to her lord;
but she was silent, and beyond words sad. She had grown thin and pale; and
her eyes often filled with tears. Sometimes she looked at Raymond, as if to
say--That it should be so! At others her countenance expressed--I will
still do all I can to make you happy. But Adrian read with uncertain aim
the charactery of her face, and might mistake.--Clara was always with
her, and she seemed most at ease, when, in an obscure corner, she could sit
holding her child's hand, silent and lonely. Still Adrian was unable to
guess the truth; he entreated them to visit us at Windsor, and they
promised to come during the following month.

It was May before they arrived: the season had decked the forest trees with
leaves, and its paths with a thousand flowers. We had notice of their
intention the day before; and, early in the morning, Perdita arrived with
her daughter. Raymond would follow soon, she said; he had been detained by
business. According to Adrian's account, I had expected to find her sad;
but, on the contrary, she appeared in the highest spirits: true, she had
grown thin, her eyes were somewhat hollow, and her cheeks sunk, though
tinged by a bright glow. She was delighted to see us; caressed our
children, praised their growth and improvement; Clara also was pleased to
meet again her young friend Alfred; all kinds of childish games were
entered into, in which Perdita joined. She communicated her gaiety to us,
and as we amused ourselves on the Castle Terrace, it appeared that a
happier, less care-worn party could not have been assembled. "This is
better, Mamma," said Clara, "than being in that dismal London, where you
often cry, and never laugh as you do now."--"Silence, little foolish
thing," replied her mother, "and remember any one that mentions London is
sent to Coventry for an hour."

Soon after, Raymond arrived. He did not join as usual in the playful spirit
of the rest; but, entering into conversation with Adrian and myself, by
degrees we seceded from our companions, and Idris and Perdita only remained
with the children. Raymond talked of his new buildings; of his plan for an
establishment for the better education of the poor; as usual Adrian and he
entered into argument, and the time slipped away unperceived.

We assembled again towards evening, and Perdita insisted on our having
recourse to music. She wanted, she said, to give us a specimen of her new
accomplishment; for since she had been in London, she had applied herself
to music, and sang, without much power, but with a great deal of sweetness.
We were not permitted by her to select any but light-hearted melodies; and
all the Operas of Mozart were called into service, that we might choose the
most exhilarating of his airs. Among the other transcendant attributes of
Mozart's music, it possesses more than any other that of appearing to come
from the heart; you enter into the passions expressed by him, and are
transported with grief, joy, anger, or confusion, as he, our soul's master,
chooses to inspire. For some time, the spirit of hilarity was kept up; but,
at length, Perdita receded from the piano, for Raymond had joined in the
trio of "Taci ingiusto core," in Don Giovanni, whose arch entreaty was
softened by him into tenderness, and thrilled her heart with memories of
the changed past; it was the same voice, the same tone, the self-same
sounds and words, which often before she had received, as the homage of
love to her--no longer was it that; and this concord of sound with its
dissonance of expression penetrated her with regret and despair. Soon after
Idris, who was at the harp, turned to that passionate and sorrowful air in
Figaro, "Porgi, amor, qualche risforo," in which the deserted Countess
laments the change of the faithless Almaviva. The soul of tender sorrow is
breathed forth in this strain; and the sweet voice of Idris, sustained by
the mournful chords of her instrument, added to the expression of the
words. During the pathetic appeal with which it concludes, a stifled sob
attracted our attention to Perdita, the cessation of the music recalled her
to herself, she hastened out of the hall--I followed her. At first, she
seemed to wish to shun me; and then, yielding to my earnest questioning,
she threw herself on my neck, and wept aloud:--"Once more," she cried,
"once more on your friendly breast, my beloved brother, can the lost
Perdita pour forth her sorrows. I had imposed a law of silence on myself;
and for months I have kept it. I do wrong in weeping now, and greater wrong
in giving words to my grief. I will not speak! Be it enough for you to know
that I am miserable--be it enough for you to know, that the painted veil
of life is rent, that I sit for ever shrouded in darkness and gloom, that
grief is my sister, everlasting lamentation my mate!"

I endeavoured to console her; I did not question her! but I caressed her,
assured her of my deepest affection and my intense interest in the changes
of her fortune:--"Dear words," she cried, "expressions of love come upon
my ear, like the remembered sounds of forgotten music, that had been dear
to me. They are vain, I know; how very vain in their attempt to soothe or
comfort me. Dearest Lionel, you cannot guess what I have suffered during
these long months. I have read of mourners in ancient days, who clothed
themselves in sackcloth, scattered dust upon their heads, ate their bread
mingled with ashes, and took up their abode on the bleak mountain tops,
reproaching heaven and earth aloud with their misfortunes. Why this is the
very luxury of sorrow! thus one might go on from day to day contriving new
extravagances, revelling in the paraphernalia of woe, wedded to all the
appurtenances of despair. Alas! I must for ever conceal the wretchedness
that consumes me. I must weave a veil of dazzling falsehood to hide my
grief from vulgar eyes, smoothe my brow, and paint my lips in deceitful
smiles--even in solitude I dare not think how lost I am, lest I become
insane and rave."

The tears and agitation of my poor sister had rendered her unfit to return
to the circle we had left--so I persuaded her to let me drive her through
the park; and, during the ride, I induced her to confide the tale of her
unhappiness to me, fancying that talking of it would lighten the burthen,
and certain that, if there were a remedy, it should be found and secured to
her.

Several weeks had elapsed since the festival of the anniversary, and she
had been unable to calm her mind, or to subdue her thoughts to any regular
train. Sometimes she reproached herself for taking too bitterly to heart,
that which many would esteem an imaginary evil; but this was no subject for
reason; and, ignorant as she was of the motives and true conduct of
Raymond, things assumed for her even a worse appearance, than the reality
warranted. He was seldom at the palace; never, but when he was assured that
his public duties would prevent his remaining alone with Perdita. They
seldom addressed each other, shunning explanation, each fearing any
communication the other might make. Suddenly, however, the manners of
Raymond changed; he appeared to desire to find opportunities of bringing
about a return to kindness and intimacy with my sister. The tide of love
towards her appeared to flow again; he could never forget, how once he had
been devoted to her, making her the shrine and storehouse wherein to place
every thought and every sentiment. Shame seemed to hold him back; yet he
evidently wished to establish a renewal of confidence and affection. From
the moment Perdita had sufficiently recovered herself to form any plan of
action, she had laid one down, which now she prepared to follow. She
received these tokens of returning love with gentleness; she did not shun
his company; but she endeavoured to place a barrier in the way of familiar
intercourse or painful discussion, which mingled pride and shame prevented
Raymond from surmounting. He began at last to shew signs of angry
impatience, and Perdita became aware that the system she had adopted could
not continue; she must explain herself to him; she could not summon courage
to speak--she wrote thus:--

"Read this letter with patience, I entreat you. It will contain no
reproaches. Reproach is indeed an idle word: for what should I reproach
you?

"Allow me in some degree to explain my feeling; without that, we shall both
grope in the dark, mistaking one another; erring from the path which may
conduct, one of us at least, to a more eligible mode of life than that led
by either during the last few weeks.

"I loved you--I love you--neither anger nor pride dictates these lines;
but a feeling beyond, deeper, and more unalterable than either. My
affections are wounded; it is impossible to heal them:--cease then the
vain endeavour, if indeed that way your endeavours tend. Forgiveness!
Return! Idle words are these! I forgive the pain I endure; but the trodden
path cannot be retraced.

"Common affection might have been satisfied with common usages. I believed
that you read my heart, and knew its devotion, its unalienable fidelity
towards you. I never loved any but you. You came the embodied image of my
fondest dreams. The praise of men, power and high aspirations attended your
career. Love for you invested the world for me in enchanted light; it was
no longer the earth I trod--the earth, common mother, yielding only trite
and stale repetition of objects and circumstances old and worn out. I lived
in a temple glorified by intensest sense of devotion and rapture; I walked,
a consecrated being, contemplating only your power, your excellence;

For O, you stood beside me, like my youth,
Transformed for me the real to a dream,
Cloathing the palpable and familiar
With golden exhalations of the dawn.

'The bloom has vanished from my life'--there is no morning to this all
investing night; no rising to the set-sun of love. In those days the
rest of the world was nothing to me: all other men--I never
considered nor felt what they were; nor did I look on you as one of them.
Separated from them; exalted in my heart; sole possessor of my affections;
single object of my hopes, the best half of myself.

"Ah, Raymond, were we not happy? Did the sun shine on any, who could enjoy
its light with purer and more intense bliss? It was not--it is not a
common infidelity at which I repine. It is the disunion of an whole which
may not have parts; it is the carelessness with which you have shaken off
the mantle of election with which to me you were invested, and have become
one among the many. Dream not to alter this. Is not love a divinity,
because it is immortal? Did not I appear sanctified, even to myself,
because this love had for its temple my heart? I have gazed on you as you
slept, melted even to tears, as the idea filled my mind, that all I
possessed lay cradled in those idolized, but mortal lineaments before me.
Yet, even then, I have checked thick-coming fears with one thought; I would
not fear death, for the emotions that linked us must be immortal.

"And now I do not fear death. I should be well pleased to close my eyes,
never more to open them again. And yet I fear it; even as I fear all
things; for in any state of being linked by the chain of memory with this,
happiness would not return--even in Paradise, I must feel that your love
was less enduring than the mortal beatings of my fragile heart, every pulse
of which knells audibly,

The funeral note
Of love, deep buried, without resurrection.
No--no--me miserable; for love extinct there is no resurrection!

"Yet I love you. Yet, and for ever, would I contribute all I possess to
your welfare. On account of a tattling world; for the sake of my--of our
child, I would remain by you, Raymond, share your fortunes, partake your
counsel. Shall it be thus? We are no longer lovers; nor can I call myself a
friend to any; since, lost as I am, I have no thought to spare from my own
wretched, engrossing self. But it will please me to see you each day! to
listen to the public voice praising you; to keep up your paternal love for
our girl; to hear your voice; to know that I am near you, though you are no
longer mine.

"If you wish to break the chains that bind us, say the word, and it
shall be done--I will take all the blame on myself, of harshness
or unkindness, in the world's eye.

"Yet, as I have said, I should be best pleased, at least for the present,
to live under the same roof with you. When the fever of my young life is
spent; when placid age shall tame the vulture that devours me, friendship
may come, love and hope being dead. May this be true? Can my soul,
inextricably linked to this perishable frame, become lethargic and cold,
even as this sensitive mechanism shall lose its youthful elasticity? Then,
with lack-lustre eyes, grey hairs, and wrinkled brow, though now the words
sound hollow and meaningless, then, tottering on the grave's extreme edge,
I may be--your affectionate and true friend,

"PERDITA."

Raymond's answer was brief. What indeed could he reply to her complaints,
to her griefs which she jealously paled round, keeping out all thought of
remedy. "Notwithstanding your bitter letter," he wrote, "for bitter I must
call it, you are the chief person in my estimation, and it is your
happiness that I would principally consult. Do that which seems best to
you: and if you can receive gratification from one mode of life in
preference to another, do not let me be any obstacle. I foresee that the
plan which you mark out in your letter will not endure long; but you are
mistress of yourself, and it is my sincere wish to contribute as far as you
will permit me to your happiness."

"Raymond has prophesied well," said Perdita, "alas, that it should be so!
our present mode of life cannot continue long, yet I will not be the first
to propose alteration. He beholds in me one whom he has injured even unto
death; and I derive no hope from his kindness; no change can possibly be
brought about even by his best intentions. As well might Cleopatra have
worn as an ornament the vinegar which contained her dissolved pearl, as I
be content with the love that Raymond can now offer me."

I own that I did not see her misfortune with the same eyes as Perdita. At
all events methought that the wound could be healed; and, if they remained
together, it would be so. I endeavoured therefore to sooth and soften her
mind; and it was not until after many endeavours that I gave up the task as
impracticable. Perdita listened to me impatiently, and answered with some
asperity:--"Do you think that any of your arguments are new to me? or
that my own burning wishes and intense anguish have not suggested them all
a thousand times, with far more eagerness and subtlety than you can put
into them? Lionel, you cannot understand what woman's love is. In days of
happiness I have often repeated to myself, with a grateful heart and
exulting spirit, all that Raymond sacrificed for me. I was a poor,
uneducated, unbefriended, mountain girl, raised from nothingness
by him. All that I possessed of the luxuries of life came
from him. He gave me an illustrious name and noble station; the world's
respect reflected from his own glory: all this joined to his own undying
love, inspired me with sensations towards him, akin to those with which we
regard the Giver of life. I gave him love only. I devoted myself to him:
imperfect creature that I was, I took myself to task, that I might become
worthy of him. I watched over my hasty temper, subdued my burning
impatience of character, schooled my self-engrossing thoughts, educating
myself to the best perfection I might attain, that the fruit of my
exertions might be his happiness. I took no merit to myself for this. He
deserved it all--all labour, all devotion, all sacrifice; I would have
toiled up a scaleless Alp, to pluck a flower that would please him. I was
ready to quit you all, my beloved and gifted companions, and to live only
with him, for him. I could not do otherwise, even if I had wished; for if
we are said to have two souls, he was my better soul, to which the other
was a perpetual slave. One only return did he owe me, even fidelity. I
earned that; I deserved it. Because I was mountain bred, unallied to the
noble and wealthy, shall he think to repay me by an empty name and station?
Let him take them back; without his love they are nothing to me. Their only
merit in my eyes was that they were his."

Thus passionately Perdita ran on. When I adverted to the question of their
entire separation, she replied: "Be it so! One day the period will arrive;
I know it, and feel it. But in this I am a coward. This imperfect
companionship, and our masquerade of union, are strangely dear to me. It is
painful, I allow, destructive, impracticable. It keeps up a perpetual fever
in my veins; it frets my immedicable wound; it is instinct with poison. Yet
I must cling to it; perhaps it will kill me soon, and thus perform a
thankful office."

In the mean time, Raymond had remained with Adrian and Idris. He was
naturally frank; the continued absence of Perdita and myself became
remarkable; and Raymond soon found relief from the constraint of months, by
an unreserved confidence with his two friends. He related to them the
situation in which he had found Evadne. At first, from delicacy to Adrian
he concealed her name; but it was divulged in the course of his narrative,
and her former lover heard with the most acute agitation the history of her
sufferings. Idris had shared Perdita's ill opinion of the Greek; but
Raymond's account softened and interested her. Evadne's constancy,
fortitude, even her ill-fated and ill-regulated love, were matter of
admiration and pity; especially when, from the detail of the events of the
nineteenth of October, it was apparent that she preferred suffering and
death to any in her eyes degrading application for the pity and assistance
of her lover. Her subsequent conduct did not diminish this interest. At
first, relieved from famine and the grave, watched over by Raymond with the
tenderest assiduity, with that feeling of repose peculiar to convalescence,
Evadne gave herself up to rapturous gratitude and love. But reflection
returned with health. She questioned him with regard to the motives which
had occasioned his critical absence. She framed her enquiries with Greek
subtlety; she formed her conclusions with the decision and firmness
peculiar to her disposition. She could not divine, that the breach which
she had occasioned between Raymond and Perdita was already irreparable: but
she knew, that under the present system it would be widened each day, and
that its result must be to destroy her lover's happiness, and to implant
the fangs of remorse in his heart. From the moment that she perceived the
right line of conduct, she resolved to adopt it, and to part from Raymond
for ever. Conflicting passions, long-cherished love, and self-inflicted
disappointment, made her regard death alone as sufficient refuge for her
woe. But the same feelings and opinions which had before restrained her,
acted with redoubled force; for she knew that the reflection that he had
occasioned her death, would pursue Raymond through life, poisoning every
enjoyment, clouding every prospect. Besides, though the violence of her
anguish made life hateful, it had not yet produced that monotonous,
lethargic sense of changeless misery which for the most part produces
suicide. Her energy of character induced her still to combat with the ills
of life; even those attendant on hopeless love presented themselves, rather
in the shape of an adversary to be overcome, than of a victor to whom she
must submit. Besides, she had memories of past tenderness to cherish,
smiles, words, and even tears, to con over, which, though remembered in
desertion and sorrow, were to be preferred to the forgetfulness of the
grave. It was impossible to guess at the whole of her plan. Her letter to
Raymond gave no clue for discovery; it assured him, that she was in no
danger of wanting the means of life; she promised in it to preserve
herself, and some future day perhaps to present herself to him in a station
not unworthy of her. She then bade him, with the eloquence of despair and
of unalterable love, a last farewell.

All these circumstances were now related to Adrian and Idris. Raymond then
lamented the cureless evil of his situation with Perdita. He declared,
notwithstanding her harshness, he even called it coldness, that he loved
her. He had been ready once with the humility of a penitent, and the duty
of a vassal, to surrender himself to her; giving up his very soul to her
tutelage, to become her pupil, her slave, her bondsman. She had rejected
these advances; and the time for such exuberant submission, which must be
founded on love and nourished by it, was now passed. Still all his wishes
and endeavours were directed towards her peace, and his chief discomfort
arose from the perception that he exerted himself in vain. If she were to
continue inflexible in the line of conduct she now pursued, they must part.
The combinations and occurrences of this senseless mode of intercourse were
maddening to him. Yet he would not propose the separation. He was haunted
by the fear of causing the death of one or other of the beings implicated
in these events; and he could not persuade himself to undertake to direct
the course of events, lest, ignorant of the land he traversed, he should
lead those attached to the car into irremediable ruin.

After a discussion on this subject, which lasted for several hours, he took
leave of his friends, and returned to town, unwilling to meet Perdita
before us, conscious, as we all must be, of the thoughts uppermost in the
minds of both. Perdita prepared to follow him with her child. Idris
endeavoured to persuade her to remain. My poor sister looked at the
counsellor with affright. She knew that Raymond had conversed with her; had
he instigated this request?--was this to be the prelude to their eternal
separation?--I have said, that the defects of her character awoke and
acquired vigour from her unnatural position. She regarded with suspicion
the invitation of Idris; she embraced me, as if she were about to be
deprived of my affection also: calling me her more than brother, her only
friend, her last hope, she pathetically conjured me not to cease to love
her; and with encreased anxiety she departed for London, the scene and
cause of all her misery.

The scenes that followed, convinced her that she had not yet fathomed the
obscure gulph into which she had plunged. Her unhappiness assumed every day
a new shape; every day some unexpected event seemed to close, while in fact
it led onward, the train of calamities which now befell her.

The selected passion of the soul of Raymond was ambition. Readiness of
talent, a capacity of entering into, and leading the dispositions of men;
earnest desire of distinction were the awakeners and nurses of his
ambition. But other ingredients mingled with these, and prevented him from
becoming the calculating, determined character, which alone forms a
successful hero. He was obstinate, but not firm; benevolent in his first
movements; harsh and reckless when provoked. Above all, he was remorseless
and unyielding in the pursuit of any object of desire, however lawless.
Love of pleasure, and the softer sensibilities of our nature, made a
prominent part of his character, conquering the conqueror; holding him in
at the moment of acquisition; sweeping away ambition's web; making him
forget the toil of weeks, for the sake of one moment's indulgence of the
new and actual object of his wishes. Obeying these impulses, he had become
the husband of Perdita: egged on by them, he found himself the lover of
Evadne. He had now lost both. He had neither the ennobling
self-gratulation, which constancy inspires, to console him, nor the
voluptuous sense of abandonment to a forbidden, but intoxicating passion.
His heart was exhausted by the recent events; his enjoyment of life was
destroyed by the resentment of Perdita, and the flight of Evadne; and the
inflexibility of the former, set the last seal upon the annihilation of his
hopes. As long as their disunion remained a secret, he cherished an
expectation of re-awakening past tenderness in her bosom; now that we were
all made acquainted with these occurrences, and that Perdita, by declaring
her resolves to others, in a manner pledged herself to their
accomplishment, he gave up the idea of re-union as futile, and sought only,
since he was unable to influence her to change, to reconcile himself to the
present state of things. He made a vow against love and its train of
struggles, disappointment and remorse, and sought in mere sensual
enjoyment, a remedy for the injurious inroads of passion.

Debasement of character is the certain follower of such pursuits. Yet this
consequence would not have been immediately remarkable, if Raymond had
continued to apply himself to the execution of his plans for the public
benefit, and the fulfilling his duties as Protector. But, extreme in all
things, given up to immediate impressions, he entered with ardour into this
new pursuit of pleasure, and followed up the incongruous intimacies
occasioned by it without reflection or foresight. The council-chamber was
deserted; the crowds which attended on him as agents to his various
projects were neglected. Festivity, and even libertinism, became the order
of the day.

Perdita beheld with affright the encreasing disorder. For a moment she
thought that she could stem the torrent, and that Raymond could be induced
to hear reason from her.--Vain hope! The moment of her influence was
passed. He listened with haughtiness, replied disdainfully; and, if in
truth, she succeeded in awakening his conscience, the sole effect was that
he sought an opiate for the pang in oblivious riot. With the energy natural
to her, Perdita then endeavoured to supply his place. Their still apparent
union permitted her to do much; but no woman could, in the end, present a
remedy to the encreasing negligence of the Protector; who, as if seized
with a paroxysm of insanity, trampled on all ceremony, all order, all duty,
and gave himself up to license.

Reports of these strange proceedings reached us, and we were undecided what
method to adopt to restore our friend to himself and his country, when
Perdita suddenly appeared among us. She detailed the progress of the
mournful change, and entreated Adrian and myself to go up to London, and
endeavour to remedy the encreasing evil:--"Tell him," she cried, "tell
Lord Raymond, that my presence shall no longer annoy him. That he need not
plunge into this destructive dissipation for the sake of disgusting me, and
causing me to fly. This purpose is now accomplished; he will never see me
more. But let me, it is my last entreaty, let me in the praises of his
countrymen and the prosperity of England, find the choice of my youth
justified."

During our ride up to town, Adrian and I discussed and argued upon
Raymond's conduct, and his falling off from the hopes of permanent
excellence on his part, which he had before given us cause to entertain. My
friend and I had both been educated in one school, or rather I was his
pupil in the opinion, that steady adherence to principle was the only road
to honour; a ceaseless observance of the laws of general utility, the only
conscientious aim of human ambition. But though we both entertained these
ideas, we differed in their application. Resentment added also a sting to
my censure; and I reprobated Raymond's conduct in severe terms. Adrian was
more benign, more considerate. He admitted that the principles that I laid
down were the best; but he denied that they were the only ones. Quoting the
text, there are many mansions in my father's house, he insisted that the
modes of becoming good or great, varied as much as the dispositions of men,
of whom it might be said, as of the leaves of the forest, there were no two
alike.

We arrived in London at about eleven at night. We conjectured,
notwithstanding what we had heard, that we should find Raymond in St.
Stephen's: thither we sped. The chamber was full--but there was no
Protector; and there was an austere discontent manifest on the countenances
of the leaders, and a whispering and busy tattle among the underlings, not
less ominous. We hastened to the palace of the Protectorate. We found
Raymond in his dining room with six others: the bottle was being pushed
about merrily, and had made considerable inroads on the understanding of
one or two. He who sat near Raymond was telling a story, which convulsed
the rest with laughter.

Raymond sat among them, though while he entered into the spirit of the
hour, his natural dignity never forsook him. He was gay, playful,
fascinating--but never did he overstep the modesty of nature, or the
respect due to himself, in his wildest sallies. Yet I own, that considering
the task which Raymond had taken on himself as Protector of England, and
the cares to which it became him to attend, I was exceedingly provoked to
observe the worthless fellows on whom his time was wasted, and the jovial
if not drunken spirit which seemed on the point of robbing him of his
better self. I stood watching the scene, while Adrian flitted like a shadow
in among them, and, by a word and look of sobriety, endeavoured to restore
order in the assembly. Raymond expressed himself delighted to see him,
declaring that he should make one in the festivity of the night.

This action of Adrian provoked me. I was indignant that he should sit at
the same table with the companions of Raymond--men of abandoned
characters, or rather without any, the refuse of high-bred luxury, the
disgrace of their country. "Let me entreat Adrian," I cried, "not to
comply: rather join with me in endeavouring to withdraw Lord Raymond from
this scene, and restore him to other society."

"My good fellow," said Raymond, "this is neither the time nor place for the
delivery of a moral lecture: take my word for it that my amusements and
society are not so bad as you imagine. We are neither hypocrites or fools
--for the rest, 'Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be
no more cakes and ale?'"

I turned angrily away: "Verney," said Adrian, "you are very cynical: sit
down; or if you will not, perhaps, as you are not a frequent visitor, Lord
Raymond will humour you, and accompany us, as we had previously agreed
upon, to parliament."

Raymond looked keenly at him; he could read benignity only in his gentle
lineaments; he turned to me, observing with scorn my moody and stern
demeanour. "Come," said Adrian, "I have promised for you, enable me to keep
my engagement. Come with us."--Raymond made an uneasy movement, and
laconically replied--"I won't!"

The party in the mean time had broken up. They looked at the pictures,
strolled into the other apartments, talked of billiards, and one by one
vanished. Raymond strode angrily up and down the room. I stood ready to
receive and reply to his reproaches. Adrian leaned against the wall. "This
is infinitely ridiculous," he cried, "if you were school-boys, you could
not conduct yourselves more unreasonably."

"You do not understand," said Raymond. "This is only part of a system:--a
scheme of tyranny to which I will never submit. Because I am Protector of
England, am I to be the only slave in its empire? My privacy invaded, my
actions censured, my friends insulted? But I will get rid of the whole
together.--Be you witnesses," and he took the star, insignia of office,
from his breast, and threw it on the table. "I renounce my office, I
abdicate my power--assume it who will!"---

"Let him assume it," exclaimed Adrian, "who can pronounce himself, or whom
the world will pronounce to be your superior. There does not exist the man
in England with adequate presumption. Know yourself, Raymond, and your
indignation will cease; your complacency return. A few months ago, whenever
we prayed for the prosperity of our country, or our own, we at the same
time prayed for the life and welfare of the Protector, as indissolubly
linked to it. Your hours were devoted to our benefit, your ambition was to
obtain our commendation. You decorated our towns with edifices, you
bestowed on us useful establishments, you gifted the soil with abundant
fertility. The powerful and unjust cowered at the steps of your
judgment-seat, and the poor and oppressed arose like morn-awakened flowers
under the sunshine of your protection.

"Can you wonder that we are all aghast and mourn, when this appears
changed? But, come, this splenetic fit is already passed; resume your
functions; your partizans will hail you; your enemies be silenced; our
love, honour, and duty will again be manifested towards you. Master
yourself, Raymond, and the world is subject to you."

"All this would be very good sense, if addressed to another," replied
Raymond, moodily, "con the lesson yourself, and you, the first peer of the
land, may become its sovereign. You the good, the wise, the just, may rule
all hearts. But I perceive, too soon for my own happiness, too late for
England's good, that I undertook a task to which I am unequal. I cannot
rule myself. My passions are my masters; my smallest impulse my tyrant. Do
you think that I renounced the Protectorate (and I have renounced it) in a
fit of spleen? By the God that lives, I swear never to take up that bauble
again; never again to burthen myself with the weight of care and misery, of
which that is the visible sign.

"Once I desired to be a king. It was in the hey-day of youth, in the pride
of boyish folly. I knew myself when I renounced it. I renounced it to gain
--no matter what--for that also I have lost. For many months I have
submitted to this mock majesty--this solemn jest. I am its dupe no
longer. I will be free.

"I have lost that which adorned and dignified my life; that which linked me
to other men. Again I am a solitary man; and I will become again, as in my
early years, a wanderer, a soldier of fortune. My friends, for Verney, I
feel that you are my friend, do not endeavour to shake my resolve. Perdita,
wedded to an imagination, careless of what is behind the veil, whose
charactery is in truth faulty and vile, Perdita has renounced me. With her
it was pretty enough to play a sovereign's part; and, as in the recesses of
your beloved forest we acted masques, and imagined ourselves Arcadian
shepherds, to please the fancy of the moment--so was I content, more for
Perdita's sake than my own, to take on me the character of one of the great
ones of the earth; to lead her behind the scenes of grandeur, to vary her
life with a short act of magnificence and power. This was to be the colour;
love and confidence the substance of our existence. But we must live, and
not act our lives; pursuing the shadow, I lost the reality--now I
renounce both.

"Adrian, I am about to return to Greece, to become again a soldier, perhaps
a conqueror. Will you accompany me? You will behold new scenes; see a new
people; witness the mighty struggle there going forward between
civilization and barbarism; behold, and perhaps direct the efforts of a
young and vigorous population, for liberty and order. Come with me. I have
expected you. I waited for this moment; all is prepared;--will you
accompany me?"

"I will," replied Adrian. "Immediately?"

"To-morrow if you will."

"Reflect!" I cried.

"Wherefore?" asked Raymond--"My dear fellow, I have done nothing else
than reflect on this step the live-long summer; and be assured that Adrian
has condensed an age of reflection into this little moment. Do not talk of
reflection; from this moment I abjure it; this is my only happy moment
during a long interval of time. I must go, Lionel--the Gods will it; and
I must. Do not endeavour to deprive me of my companion, the out-cast's
friend.

"One word more concerning unkind, unjust Perdita. For a time, I thought
that, by watching a complying moment, fostering the still warm ashes, I
might relume in her the flame of love. It is more cold within her, than a
fire left by gypsies in winter-time, the spent embers crowned by a pyramid
of snow. Then, in endeavouring to do violence to my own disposition, I made
all worse than before. Still I think, that time, and even absence, may
restore her to me. Remember, that I love her still, that my dearest hope is
that she will again be mine. I know, though she does not, how false the
veil is which she has spread over the reality--do not endeavour to rend
this deceptive covering, but by degrees withdraw it. Present her with a
mirror, in which she may know herself; and, when she is an adept in that
necessary but difficult science, she will wonder at her present mistake,
and hasten to restore to me, what is by right mine, her forgiveness, her
kind thoughts, her love."

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