« 上一页继续 »
it will be pleasant for you; and I appreciate his kindness in offering to reason with your father ; but rely upon it, Amelia, he will soon come round without the mediation of friends; and perhaps it would have been quite as well to let him in his own way get over his obstinacy.” “Nay, my love, do not use a term so harsh."
Why, what other term can be so applicable? What but obstinacy is it?—sheer obstinacy ? '
“ Fie, Stanley! Remember he is my father!”
“Well, well, my good girl, I 'll say no more.-Oh! by the by, Wormwell wants me to dine with him to-day. Will you give me leave to go?
"Give you leave !” said Amelia, with a smile.
“Why, of course. I cannot presume to go without. I told him that you ruled me with a rod of iron, and that therefore your permission must first be obtained.”
Amelia was rather pleased with this idea,-she thought it quite original,--and playfully said, that as such was the case, if he promised to be good, he might go, for which, of course, he felt grateful; and, well knowing how little it required to delight that gentle creature, expressed his gratitude with appropriate humility, and then summoned Bob, for the purpose of giving him instructions to take the horses down to Epsom in the morning.
With these instructions Bob, of course, was highly pleased ; and in the morning he accordingly started ; and at about the same time General Johnson set off with the view of performing his promise to Amelia. The General had in the interim formed his plan. When he proposed to himself the attainment of any object, he would carry the point, if possible, by storm; but being an excellent tactician, and knowing Captain Joliffe sufficiently well to know that with him his favourite mode of attack would not succeed, he had made up his mind to accomplish the thing by stratagem, although he preferred the storming principle much. He appeared to feel that his reputation was at stake in this matter; and it was indeed one of his chief characteristics that whenever he undertook to perform a task for another, he felt more deeply mortified in the event of a failure than the person whom he generously intended to serve. It was hence that he had studied his course of proceeding in this case so deliberately; and as the result of that study was to convince him that he must act with great caution upon the Captain's pride, he resolved to make it appear that he entertained the most friendly feelings towards Stanley, and to show that his noble spirit rendered him worthy not only of the affection of Amelia, but of general esteem and admiration, well knowing how powerfully men are influenced by the opinions of those who form the social circles in which they move, and how easily favourable prepossessions are thus created, and adverse prejudices destroyed.
On arriving at Richmond, the General was, as usual, received most cordially. The Captain insisted upon his dining with them, of course, and equally of course the General consented, but conversed upon none but ephemeral topics until they had dined, when he thought it correct to touch with care upon that point which he felt himself then more than ever bound to carry, and therefore, much to the delight of Mrs. Joliffe, who indulged in occasional exclamations of joy, proceeded to relate all the circumstances connected with the perilous position of his daughter, taking care to paint the rescue in colours the most attractive ;
and, having set the Captain in the right train of thought, and drawn tears from the eyes of his affectionate lady, he, with admirable tact, waved the subject until he and the Captain were alone, when it was with great caution resumed, but with much more confidence on the part of the General, who saw that he had already made a favourable impression.
“What a pity it is,” said he, after a pause, during which the Captain appeared to be lost in a reverie, —"what a pity it is you are not reconciled to that young man. I, of course, should be pleased if you were, as I am placed in rather an awkward position; for I candidly confess to you that there are indeed very few whom I esteem more highly than him; but, independently of that consideration, upon my honour I think that you have held out now quite long enough. I am aware that these fugitive marriages are very seldom productive of happiness; but I must say that, as there is now every prospect of this being an exception to the general rule, you will not act with wisdom if you treat them too harshly.”
“ General, when I speak to you I speak not only to a man of sense and judgment, but to one who is a father, and who possesses a father's feelings. I therefore, with confidence, put it to you, how, under the self-same circumstances, would you have acted ?"
“ Doubtless, precisely as you have: nay, perhaps with a greater degree of harshness. I do not believe that I should have been quite so tranquil. But, then, in our own cases we appear to be incapable of forming a correct jndgment. We ought not to act upon our own impulses alone;, we ought to be guided by the calmer judgment of others; our own feelings are too warm, too acute, too one-sided to allow us to do justice. If any young dog were to run away with my girl I should rave, and storm, and threaten to blow out his brains, no doubt ; but then, I should look upon any other man who raved, and stormed, and threatened, under similar circumstances, as being unwise! We, therefore, ought not to depend upon our own judgment in such a case as this. It is perfectly sure to be perverted. We ought, rather, to be guided by those who have the power to feel all that we feel, but whose, judgment is not warped by the immediate, operation of those feelings. But, what are the chief points of that young man's character to which
you object ? “His youth, and inexperience: his utter want of that knowledge of the world which is so essential to the pursuit of a prosperous and strictly honourable course through it.”
“Exactly : the very points to which I should object. My girl should not, with my consent, marry any man who had not sufficient experience to resist the temptations, and to ward off the dazzling diablerie of the vicious. But, what would you say to me if a young fellow without this experience were clandestinely to marry my girl, and I were to hold out as you do, what would be your advice to me?"
“I should certainly advise you to hold out still, that he might feel that, as his wife had made a sacrifice of all for him, he was bound to cherish her with tenfold tenderness."
“Very good—very good. I should, then, think it excellent advice, and should follow it, no doubt; but, if I did, what besides should I be doing? Why, laying the foundation of the defeat of the very object I had in view: driving that young man to form promiscuous friendships;
driving him in the way of every species of temptation ; driving him pell-mell into the haunts of vice and villainy; for, who can expect a young fellow like that to be always at home? He will go out, and ought to go out; but when he does, where is he to go? What connexions is he likely to form ? who are likely to be his associates, when full of blood and spirit, he has the means of indulging in every extravagant pleasure? And then, his wife, -- what is she to do during his absence deserted by her friends, because spurned by her relatives : no one to converse with, no one to visit, no one in whom she can with safety confide. It is true - very true, that she ought to have thought of this before ; but then, she didn't think of it: she rushed into this position, and there she is !
It is also true that she ought to consider herself but justly punished for her disobedience ; but, Captain, as men of the world, you and I well know it to be unsafe, to say the least of it, to punish a young and beautiful woman too severely in this way. Besides, we ought to take into consideration that all the punishment in such a case falls upon her, which is not the correct thing, by any
You would not wish, I am certain, to be unduly severe with her; you would not wish to stand as a barrier between her and happiness. I feel quite convinced that you never wished to do this, and yet is this the very thing you do. I should have done in every respect, no doubt, precisely as you have ; but I think that after a time I should have been induced to feel that I was thereby defeating the very object I wished to attain. Now, I never yet found you unreasonable. I am not a man to fatter; you will acquit me, I am sure, of any desire to do so; but I never knew you stubbornly to repudiate any rational view. It is hence that I now feel quite sure that, if you look at this matter again calmly, you will be as well convinced, as I plainly confess that I am, that you will not be doing your duty as father if you sternly hold out after this.
“ General, I need not assure you that my only object in holding out has been to secure eventually my poor girl's happiness. God bless her! I love her as fondly as before. Nay, she seems to be even more dear to me than ever.”
“I believe it. I know it. I feel it. Forgive her : forgive them both. She is a good girl, and he well deserves her. He treats her, as he ought, with the most affectionate tenderness.”
“I am not sure of that."
“I am-perfectly sure. The intense, the artless fervour, with which she assured me that such was the fact, renders it impossible for me to disbelieve it. Receive them, then. Come, you have no wish to torture her. Be reconciled. And-mark my words, Captain,—they will be happy, most happy, the happiest pair that ever lived.”
“If I were sure of that
“ Be sure of it! make up your mind to it. Be sure of this, also, that it rests with you whether they are happy or miserable. Don't let them live as if they were outcasts of society. Don't drive that youth to seek an exciting change of scene among blacklegs and roués. Let him feel that you care for him, and he will care for you. Let him feel that he has some one with whom he can advise. Let them both be restored to the position they ought to occupy. Let them both feel that in you they have a father indeed. By Jupiter, sir, you'll do wrong if you continue to close your doors against them. Come, say you will receive them ; say you will meet them at my house: that, perhaps, will be