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(for July): The Origin, Progress, and Pre-
416 to 427
(fór August): The Spas of England and
Principal Sea-bathingPìaces. By A. B. Granville, M.D., F.R.S.-
Tom Bowling. A Tale of the Sea. By Captain Frederic Chamier,
R.N.–A New Method of learning to Read, Write, and Speak a Lan-
guage in Six Months, adapted to the German for the use of Schools
and private Teachers. Part Second. By 11. G. Ollendorff, Professor
of the German Language and Literature.- James Hattield and the
Beauty of Buttermere: a story of Real Life.- Joseph
the Poacher. By the author of " Frank Mildmay.”—The Little Wife
and the Baronet's Daughters. By Mrs. Grey
555 to 563
ook ; or,
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
FATHERS AND SONS.
BY THE EDITOR.
It is impossible to doubt the difficulty, to say nothing of the delicacy of poor Jane's position : indeed it would be superfluous to call the reader's attention to what may really be called the perils to which she is exposed, knowing so much as by this time he does. Not a word could pass her lips—not a look--not a sigh could escape her without being noted down by Miss Harris - the audible scratching of the pen of the recording inquisitor behind the curtain, does give something like warning to the self-criminating victim, and may sometimes serve to check his communicativeness ; but with Jane-no-her fate, her fortunes, and her happiness seemed to be at the mercy of persons who ought, upon every principle of honesty and rectitude, to have upheld her cause “ against a world in arms."
But now, as to Miss Harris's letter to the besmeared Smylar. When she got it, she read it through twice before she even laid it down. It sometimes happens that plain common sense beats finesse hollow; Smylar had laid her plans skilfully enough to answer her great purpose; but Smylar had not, in grasping the subject at large, prepared herself for certain little incidental events. She knew, to be sure, the purity and honesty of Jane's mind, but judging from her own feelings, and regulating her conduct towards her young mistress by the scale of her own passions, she thought there could be no doubt whatever of the young lady's acceding to any arrangements which would bring her and the man whom she liked under the same roof; more especially after she had, as she thought, effectually succeeded in underminingto a certain extent—the high principle by which she had, up to the present stage of her life, been actuated.
Mrs. Smylar just at this period was on the edge of a precipice, or one might more oppositely say, performning her evolutions (as probably she had frequently done in early life) on the tight-rope, from which the
May.-VOL. LXII. NO. ccxlv.
most trifling false step would bring her to the ground; to be sure, Miss Harris generously acted clown for her, and chalked her shoes to add to her security, with all the winning grace of hollow friendship. When she got that young person's letter, which at once showed her how much was to be feared from the timidity or sensibility of sweet Jenny Bruff, the difficulty and delicacy of her own position were made evident to her. Then came the question—What was next to be done? Having acted as she had, and having concerted the scheme for bringing those whom she wished to love each other-if they did not love each other already -together, how was she to proceed under the belief of a break-down in the resolution of her doomed victim—for so she considered Jane, and victim she meant her to be.
Several questions were now to be mooted by the heroine of Bullock'ssmithy, and one-a very important one-was, touching the capacity of Miss Harris for judging the probability of effects from apparent causes; and whether she had-looking to her qualifications—formed a just estimate of Jane's feelings and apprehensions.
The next question was, whether since pens and ink have been sent upon earth for the purpose of man's and woman's destruction—Jane, if she did break down and write to her father, would or would not in the excitement of the moment, the plenitude of her repentance, and the anxiety for reconciliation with her parent, inform the colonel that the scheme of bringing her and Frank Grindle together, originated entirely with his confidential adviser.
Then came a third question ; whether in order to prevent such an explosion, she should venture upon the yet untried experiment of writing herself to Jane; the debate upon this, however, lasted but a few moments. She felt that she could not check the impulse of the daughter without inculpating herself with the father—what then was to be done? writing to Harris for further particulars might equally commit her, and Harris, according to her notions, was not sufficiently acute to comprehend any thing put hypothetically, or without a plain statement of facts and names, and so the mill-work of Mrs. Smylar's brain went on and on, and round and round, until at last-by no means an uncommon case-she resolved to let matters take their own course, always qualifying this resolution by the reflection that by the family arrangement of submitting all the letters which arrived per post to her surveillance in the first instance, she might with her theatrical activity withhold any one which came to hand addressed to the colonel from Jane, leaving it to some further stretch of ingenuity to give such cogent reasons to the poor girl for what she had done, as might convince her that her interposition was based on the best motives, and no doubt would eventually produce the most favourable results.
Still it was not impossible, nor even improbable, that Jane might direct her letter to the colonel at the Doldrum—knowing as she did how much of his time he passed at that club. If once the implicit confidence which he had so long reposed in Smylar was shaken matter however little the violence and abruptness of his temper and character would have burst forth, and she would have been sent off at a moment's notice; all her hopes frustrated, all her expectations
wrecked. And so we may at least indulge in the belief that the fiend in human shape—or rather in the shape in which her mantuamaker chose her to appear-must have passed a sleepless, miserable night; her uneasiness upon the main point of her career being by no means mitigated in consequence of the evident addiction of Bruff to the society and cercle of Lady Gramm.
At Amersham's the complexity of feelings was scarcely less embarrassing; Jane, as we have seen, was too acute not to perceive the anxiety of Emma for Frank's arrival, nor could Emma blind herself to the longing, dreading, lingering, hoping, fearing feelings of Jane; and as the hours wore on, poor Jane gradually became more tremblingly alive to the delicacy of her position in consenting to become the companion in a country-house of a most agreeable and accomplished man, so very peculiarly placed in regard to her as was this amiable brotherin-law elect; but still she could not summon courage enough to speak to Mrs. Amersham on the point, for fear of incurring an imputation of vanity.
“And why,” said she to herself, “may not this Mr. Grindle come here as well as any other friend of the Amershams. It is true that he is destined to be a near connexion of mine — a strong reason why he should be here : if I remonstrate upon this point, I show either that I fancy myself charming enough to drive him into a dishonourable rivalry with his brother-in-law, or that I have not sufficient firmness of principle, or dignity of character, to withstand his fascinations, which are to lead me to a violation of a contract, which in the other case I am to be sufficiently vain to imagine him anxious to invalidate.” And so Jane said to herself further, “ Let him come-I know my heart
- I know my duty—he shall be my friend, my brother-in-law-but my father's will must be obeyed; and if it be, Francis Grindle and I shall naturally see much of each other. Why have I even for a moment alarmed myself at his visit upon this occasion ?"
Now all this, which is perfectly reasonable, perfectly philosophical, and perfectly just, Jane, as we have just observed, “ said to herself,” but she said it to nobody else; and when Harris, who was watching every turn of her countenance, and catching every syllable that fell from her lips, for the purpose of reporting to “ head-quarters," saw the struggles which were passing in her mind, she felt more convinced than ever that Mrs. Smylar's scheme was a failure, and actuated by that apprehension, coupled with a prospective certainty of being herself turned off by the colonel, in case her secret correspondence with Smylar should be discovered, she in her turn began to calculate whether, if Smylar adopted a bolder line of conduct, she herself should not write to the colcnel to tell him what was going on.
This “ wheel within wheel" system, certainly looks threatening to some of the plotters; nor was Miss Harris's slight attachment to Mr. Rumfit, the colonel's own man and butler, the former—and perhaps even actual—aspirant to Mrs. Smylar's hand, likely to check her exertions in the way of self-preservation in the establishment, even at the risk of jeopardizing the “great lady in the little parlour;” and as her fears increased, so proportionably increased her restlessness as to longer keeping the secret of Mr. Frank's visit; whereupon she determined if she did not hear from Mrs. Snylar in the morning, to take upon herself the task of enlightening the colonel upon that most interesting subject.
She did not hear from Mrs. Smylar, nor was she likely ever to hear from her upon any matter which she considered important, inasmuch as upon Mrs. Smylar's established principle she never could be brought to commit herself in writing. She would have liked a dialogue with Miss Harris extremely well; in the course of which she might have extracted from her the circumstances on which her apprehensions were grounded ; but suspecting as she did that Miss Harris was not entirely indifferent to Mr. Rumfit, whose presumptuous advances she (Smylar) had considered it due to her station to check and discourage ; and, moreover, thinking it not quite impossible that a correspondence might be going on between them, inasmuch as Rumfit by his activity and assiduity might get possession of the letters even before her, or might have his own particular despatches thrown down what the kitchen-maid called the “ hairy,” or directed to him at the Butler's Club (of which he was a distinguished member), she determined to keep entirely aloof, and hover like a hawk over her prey till pouncing-time came.
One hears a vast deal of the “republic" of letters, and of the “ equality" of human beings, and the universality of rights and privileges of mankind; but high-sounding as all these very cheering, consolatory and encouraging preachments and speechifications may be, in point of fact when tested by practice they are so much nonsense; because although men and women may be universally constructed alike (each in their kind), the disparity of their qualities and qualifications is too evident to require a moment's consideration. We might seem to speak invidiously, if we instituted any comparison here between living people, and therefore we abstain ; but take the whole course of natural history is there anything like a republicanism in the construction of animals touching their uses, their sagacity, their figures, their instinct. Is a toad the equal of a race-horse? Is a duck the peer of a lion? Is a worm the fellow of a greyhound? Wonderful as may be the formation of all these, or fifty other creatures, as applicable to the several purposes
for the fulfilment of which they have been created, nobody can be found to deny the gradations of intellect (if intellect instinct may be called) by which different animals of different genera and species are distinguished.
Now of the same genus were Mrs. Smylar and Miss Harris, but as to species, Mrs. Smylar was as the race-horse to the toad jhad they been of the same genus); and while Miss Bruff's maid fancied that she saw through the designs of Mrs. Smylar, and felt assured that by taking the step upon which she had determined she could not only carry her point by damaging her with the colonel, but eventually secure an alliance with Mr. Rumfit, and necessarily attain a consequent establishment in the colonel's house, she was playing Toudy at a wonderful disadvantage. Poor Miss Harris ! little did she know the sort of person with whom she had to deal-little did she anticipate the results of her great political experiment.
Acting however upon the impulse—not of the moment merely—but upon the impulse given to her mind and feelings, after some considera