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tolerant to the faults of others; I really believe you consider Cunnington's liaison a perfect Platonic affair."
“I do, indeed.”
“But, I assure you, no one possessing a grain of common sense believes in Platonic love."
“I will tell you why, mamma : that love, which is called Platonic, requires no name at all; it is not essential or proper for a married woman willingly to form such a friendship; but there are some women who naturally form that tie from very peculiar circumstances. Cunnington was Alphonzo di Lucia's friend; he soothed his dying moments, and became an inmate of the baron’s ménage; I say again that I do not believe Cunnington weak enough, or the baroness cruel enough, to break through all rules of decorum and morality. The surest target for the enemies of Plato
nic affection to shoot their arrows against is, that man is naturally an admirer of beauty; and it often follows that a friendship afterwards strong and founded on the recollection of many tried years, originally was engendered by the attraction of beauty ; other persons look on, and, perhaps, having a Platonic affection in its first stage, in its infancy of flattery and soft whisperings, they are not wise enough to believe that the maturer years of friendship are very sincere and demure.”
“C'est charmant, Mary; what a loveable friend you would be to several married ladies who shall be nameless !"
“Nay, nay, I am not such a passive admirer of every one's conduct; but Lady Cunnington has often told me not to form any rule by which to judge our fellow-men, that is, there is but one rule properly justifiable, doing to others as we would be done by.””
“Methodistical, truly!” exclaimed Lady Anne.
“More true than methodistical, I think," replied Mary; “ but Cunnington is coming here this evening; could you contrive to leave me alone with him ?”.
“Why, I really don't know,” said Lady Anne ; “ there was a time when I should have said 'yes ;'—that was when you would have made a love scene,-made yourself interesting and won Cunnington's heart; but now, I really see no use in your fighting Alice Lemington's battles, none whatever.”
“Fie, mamma!” involuntarily exclaimed Mary; “there was a time when you ought not to have allowed me to be alone with poor Cunnington : but now, I am like a discarded ball-room dress ; I have had my bright hours, and I am only fit to be turned to some trifling use.”
“ Cunnington is becoming a perfect protégé of yours; but I believe it is the fashion to commiserate where there is no real cause for pity; poor Cunnington, indeed !”
“Oh, yes, poor Cunnington ! why will you talk like the cold unfeeling world, mamma ? Think of Lady Cunnington, you surely must pity her ; she is so devoted to her son.”
“Oh, how truly absurd you are, Mary ! the world declares never were two persons so cold as Lady Cunnington and her son.”
“ And who is the world ?” exclaimed Mary, much of her usual spirit bursting forth ; " whose is this opinion constantly telling the most palpable falsehoods ? I know the interior of Cunnington Abbey, and I know Lady Cunnington's sentiments. All are not the fondest parents who make the greatest demonstrations of attachment; the hope and pride of Lord Cunnington's
widow are centred in her only son ; she has often shed scalding tears of mortification over the disappointment his idle hours have caused her; she has watched for the first symptoms of dawning genius with the same anxious care she might have watched for a favorable turn had her son been dangerously ill.”
“I dare say Lord Cunnington is quite clever enough; depend upon it, Mary, genius is all the brighter for not beginning its course too early : some genius gets threadbare before its possessor is thirty, and I hear Cunnington is a very likely person in the House. As to his being a little gay, you surely do not suppose that every seat in the House is graced by a peerless peer.”
"I dare say not, but you cannot enter into the particulars of general cases. As in all other duties, a clear conscience is a very pleasant companion to a politician ; and if