paint him en beau the portrait is too beautiful
to be very like any man born akd reared within
the disenchanted limits of New-England. I am
writing boldly, but no offence, dear Bessie ; I do
not know your brother, and I have yes, out with
it, with the exception of your precious little self
I have an antipathy to the New-Englanders r a
disloyal race, and conceited, fancying themselves
more knowing in all matters, high and low, espe
cially government and religion, than the rest of the
world * all-sufficient, self-sufficient, and insuffi
" Pardon me, gentle Bessie I am just now at
fever heat, and I could not like Gabriel if he were
66 THE LINWOODS,
whig and rebel. Ah, Herbert ! but I loved him
before I ever heard these detestable words ; and
once truly loving, especially if our hearts be knit
together by nature, I think the faults of the subject
do not diminish our affection, though they turn it
from its natural sweet uses to suffering."
" DEAR BESSIE, A week a stormy, miserable
week has passed since I wrote the above, and it
has ended in Herbert s leaving us, and dishonouring
his father s name by taking a commission in the
rebel service. Papa has of course had a horrible
fit of the gout. He says he has for ever cast
Herbert out of his affections. AhJ I am not skilled
in metaphysics, but I know that we have no power
whatever over our affections. Mamma takes it al!
patiently, and chiefly sorroweth for that Herbert
has lost caste by joining the insurgents, whom she
thinks little better than so many Jack Cades.
" For myself, I would have poured out my blood
every drop of it, to have kept him true to his
king and country ; but in my secret heart I glory
in him that he has honestly and boldly clung to his
opinions, to his own certain and infinite loss. I
have no heart to write more.
" ISABELLA LINWOOD.
" P. S. You may show the last paragraph (con
fidentially) to Jasper ; but don t let him know that
I wished him to see it. I. L."
THE LINWOODS. 67
" An forward, though I canna see,
I guess an /ear." BURNS.
THREE years passed over without any marked
change in die external condition of our young friends.
Herbert Linwood endured the hardships of an
American officer during that most suffering period
of the war, and remained true to the cause he had
adopted, without any of those opportunities of dis
tinction which are necessary to keep alive the fire
of ordinary patriotism.
It has been seen that Eliot Lee, with most of
the young men of the country (as might be expect
ed from the insurgent and generous spirit of youth),
espoused the popular side. It ought not to have
been expected, that when the young country came
to the muscle and vigour of manhood, it shou]d
continue to wear the leading-strings of its child
hood, or remain in the bondage and apprenticeship
of its youth. It has been justly said, that the seeds
of our revolution and future independence were
sown by the Pilgrims. ^The political institutions of
a people may be inferred from their religionX Ab
solutism, as a mirror, reflects the Roman Catholic
faith. Whatever varieties of names were attached
68 THE LINWOODS.
to the religious sects of America, they were, with
the exception of a few Papists, all Protestants
all, as Burke said of them, " agreed (if agreeing
if $ in nothing else) in the communion of the spirit of
liberty theirs was the Protestantism of the Prot-
J At/ estant religion the dissidence of dissent." It was
.morally certain, that as soon as they came to man s
estate, their government would accord with this
v / spirit of liberty ; would harmonize with the inde
pendent and republican spirit of the religion of
Christ, the only authority they admitted. The
fires of our republic were not then kindled by a
coal from the old altars of Greece and Rome, whose
freest government exalted the few, and retained
the many in grovelling ignorance and servitude :
ours came forth invincible in the declaration of
liberty to all, and equality of rights.
Such minds as Eliot Lee s, reasoning and re
ligious, were not so much moved by the sudden
impulses of enthusiasm as incited by the convic
tions of duty. His heart was devoted to his coun
try, his thoughts absorbed in her struggle ; but he
quenched, or rather smothered his intense desire
to go forth with her champions, and remained pur
suing his legal studies, near enough to his home
to perform his paramount but obscure duty to his
widowed mother and her young family.
Jasper Meredith s political preferences, if not
proclaimed, were easily guessed. It was obvious
that his tastes were aristocratic and feudal his
THE LINWOODS. 69
sympathies with the monarch, not with the people.
New-York was the headquarters of the British
army, and Judge Ellis, his uncle, on the pretext
of keeping his nephew out of the way of the seduc
tions of a very gay society, advised him to pursue
the study of the law in New-England, and thus for
a while he avoided pledging himself. He resided
in Boston or its vicinity, never far from Westbrook.
He had a certain eclat in the drawing-rooms of
Boston, but he was no favourite there. A pro
fessed neutrality was, if not suspicious, most of
fensive in the eyes of neck-or-nothing patriots.
But Meredith did not escape the whisper that his
neutrality was a mere mask. His accent, which
was ambitiously English, was criticised, and his
elaborate dress, manufactured by London artists,
was particularly displeasing to the sons of the
Puritans, who, absorbed in great objects, were then
more impatient even than usual of extra sacrifices
to the graces.
The transition from Boston to Westbrook was de
lightful to Meredith. There was no censure of any
sort, but balm for the rankling wounds of vanity ;
and it must be confessed that he not only appeared
better, but was better at Westbrook than elsewhere i
the best parts of his nature were called forth ; he
was (if we may desecrate a technical expression)
in the exercise of grace. There is a certain moral
atmosphere, as propitious to moral wellbeing as a
genial temperature is to health. Vanity has a sort
of thermometer, which enables the possessor to
70 THE LIN WOODS.
graduate and adapt himself to the dispositions, the
vanities (is there any gold in nature without this
alloy ?) of others. Meredith, when he wished to be
so, was eminently agreeable. Those always stand
in a most fortunate light who vary the monotony
of a village existence, and he broke like a sunbeam
through the dull atmosphere that hung over West-
brook. He brought the freshest news, he studied
good Mrs. Lee s partialities and prejudices, and
(without her being aware of their existence) ac
commodated himself to them. He supplied to
Eliot what all social beings hanker after, com
panionship with one of his own age, pursuits, and
associations. The magnet that drew him to West-
brook was never the acknowledged attraction.
Meredith was not in love with Bessie Lee. She
was too spiritual a creature for one of earth s mould ;
but his self-love, his ruling passion, was flattered
by her. He saw and enjoyed (what, alas ! no one
else then saw) his power over her. He saw it in
the mutations of her cheek, in the kindling of her
eye, in the changes of her voice. It was as if an
angel had left his sphere to incense him. Meredith
must be acquitted of a deliberate attempt to insnare
her affections. He thought not and cared not
for the future. He cared only for a present self-
i gratification. A ride at twilight or a walk
by moonlight with this creature, all beauty, refine
ment, and tenderness, was a poetic passage to him
to her it was fraught with life or death.
THE LLNWOODS. 71
P oor Bessie ! she should have been hardened
for the changing climate of this rough world ; but
by a fatal, but very common error, she had been
cherished like a tropical bird, or an exotic plant.
" She has such delicate health ! she is so different
from my other children !" said the mother. " She
is so gentle and sensitive," said the brother. And
thus, with all their sound judgment, instead of sub
mitting her to a hardening process, it seemed an
instinct with them, by every elaborate contrivance,
to fence her from the ordinary trials and evils of
life. Only when she was happy did they let her
alone ; with Meredith she seemed happy, and
they were satisfied. Bessie shared this unfounded
tranquillity, arising with them partly from con
fidence in Meredith, and partly from the belief that
she was in no danger of suffering from an unrequited
love ; but Bessie s arose from the most childlike
ignorance of that study puzzling to the wisest and
craftiest the human heart. She was the most
modest and unexacting of human creatures her
gentle spirit urged no rights asked nothing, ex
pected nothing beyond the present moment. The
worshipper was satisfied with the presence of the
idol. Her residence in New- York had impressed a
conviction that a disparity of birth and condition
was an impassable gulf. It was natural enough
that she should have imbibed this opinion ; for,
being a child, the aristocratic opinions of the so
ciety she was in were expressed, unmitigated by
72 THE UNWOODS.
courtesy ; they sunk deep in her susceptible mind,
a mind too humble to aspire above any barrier
that nature or society had set up.
There was another foundation of her fancied
security. This was shaken by the following con
versation : Meredith was looking over an old
pocketbook, when a card dropped from it on the
floor at Bessie s feet : she handed it to him he
smiled as he looked at it, and held it up before her.
She glanced her eye over it, and saw it was a note
of the date of their visit to the soothsayer Effie,
and of Effie s prediction in relation to the " dark
" I had totally forgotten this," said he, carelessly.
"Forgotten it!" echoed Bessie, in a tone that in
dicated but too truly her feelings.
" Certainly I had and why not, pray ?"
" Oh, because " she hesitated.
" Because what, Bessie ?"
Bessie was ashamed of her embarrassment, and
faltering the more the more she tried to shake it
off, she said, " I did not suppose you could forget
any thing that concerned Isabella."
" Upon my honour, you are very much mis
taken ; I have scarcely thought of Effie and her
trumpery prediction since we were there."
" Why have you preserved the card, then, Jas
per ?" asked Bessie, in all simplicity.
Jasper s complexion was not of the blushii-T
order, or he would have blushed as he replied, at
THE LINWOODS. 73
the same time replacing the card " Oh, Lord, I
don t know ! accident the card got in here among
these old memoranda and receipts, trivial fond
records all !"
" There preserve it," said Bessie, " and we will
look at it one of these days."
" When ?"
* When as it surely will be, the prediction is
" If not till then," he said, <: it will never again
see the light this is the oddest fancy of yours,"
" Not fancy, but faith. v
" Faith most unfounded why, Bessie, Isabella
and I were always quarrelling."
" And always making up. Do you ever quarrel
now, Jasper ?"
" Oh, she is still of an April temper ; but I" he
looked most tenderly at Bessie " have lived too
much of late in a serene atmosphere to bear well
her fitful changes."
A long time had passed since Bessie had men
tioned Isabella to Meredith. She knew not why,
but she had felt a growing reluctance to advert to
her friend even in thought , and she was now
conscious of a thrilling sensation at the careless,
cold manner in which Jasper spoke of her. It
seemed as if a load had fallen off her heart. She
felt like a mariner who has at length caught a
glimpse of what seems distant land, and is bewil-
VOL. T. D 7
74 THE LINWOODS.
Jered with new sensations, and uncertain whether
it be land or not. She was conscious Jasper s eye
was on hers, though her own was downcast. She
longed to escape from that burning glance, and
was relieved by a bustle in the next room, and her
two little sisters running in, one holding up a long
curling tress of her own beautiful hair, and crying
out " Did not you give this to me, Bessie ?"
" Is not it mine ?" said the competitor.
" No, it is mine !" exclaimed Jasper, snatching
it, and holding it beyond their reach.
The girls laughed, and were endeavouring to
regain it, when he slipped a ring from his finger,
and set it rolling on the floor, saying, " The hair
is mine the ring belongs to whoever gets it."
The ring, obedient to the impulse he gave it, rolled
out of the room; the children eagerly followed,
he shut the door after them, and repeated, kissing
the lock of hair " It is mine is it not ?"
" Oh, no no, Jasper give it to me," cried Bes
sie, excessively confused.
" You will not give it to me ! well * a fair ex
change is no robbery, " and taking the scissors
from Bessie s workbox, he cut off one of his own
luxuriant dark locks, and offered it to her. She
shook her head.
" That is unkind- most unfriendly, Bessie"
he paused a moment, and then, still holding both
locks, he extended the ends to Bessie, and asked
her if she could tie a true love-knot. Bessie s
THE LINWOODS. 75
heart was throbbing; she was frightened at her
own emotion ; she was afraid of betraying it ; and
she tied the knot as the natural thing for her to do.
" There is but one altar for such a sacrifice as
this," said Meredith, and he was putting it into his
bosom, when Bessie snatched it from him, burst
into tears, and left the room.
After this, there was a change in Bessie s man
ners her spirits became unequal, she was ner
vous and restless Meredith, in the presence of
observers, was measured and cautious to the last
degree in his attentions to her when however they
were alone together, though not a sentence might
be uttered that a lawyer could have tortured into a
special plea, yet his words were fraught with looks
and tones that carried them to poor Bessie s heart
with a power that cannot be imagined by those
"Who have ceased to hear such, or ne er heard."
It was about this period that Meredith wrote the
following reply to a letter from his mother.
" You say, my dear madam, that you have
heard certain reports about me, which you are not
willing to believe, and yet cannot utterly discredit.
You say, also, * that though you should revolt with
horror from sanctioning your son in those liaisons
that are advised by Lord Chesterfield, and others
of your friends, yet you see no harm in lover-
like attentions to young persons in infeiior sta-
76 THE LINWOODS
tions ; they serve you add, * to keep alive and cul
tivate that delicate finesse so essential to the sue
cess of a man of the world, and, provided they
have no immoral purpose, are quite innocent, as the
object of them must know there is an impassable
gulf between her and her superiors in rank, and
is therefore responsible for her mistakes. I have
been thus particular in echoing your words, that I
may assure you my conduct is in conformity to
their letter and spirit. Tranquillize yourself, my
dear madam. There is nothing, in any little fool
eries I may be indulging in, to disquiet you for a
moment. The person in question is a divine little
creature-r-quite a prodigy for - this part of the
world, where she lives in a seclusion almost equal to
that of Prospero s isle ; so that your humble servant,
being scarce more than the third man that e er
she saw, it would not be to marvel at if he
should be the first that e er she loved and if I am,
it is my destiny my conscience is quite easy
1 never have committed myself, nor ever shall :
time and absence will soon dissipate her illusions
She is an unaspiring little person, quite aware of
the gulf, as you call it, between us. She believes
that even if I were lover and hero enough to play
the Leander and swim it, my destiny is fixed on
the other side. I have no distrust of myself, and I
beg you will have none ; I am saved from all re
sponsibility as to involving the happiness of this
lily of the valley, by her very clear-sighted mother,
THE LINWOODS. 77
and her sage of a brother, her natural guar
" It is yet problematical whether, as you sup
pose, a certain lady s fortune will be made by the
apostacy of her disinherited brother. If the rebels
win the day, the property of the tories will be con
fiscated, or transferred to the rebel heir. But all
that is in future fortune is a fickle goddess ; we
can only be sure of her present favours and deserve
the future by our devotion.
" With profound gratitude and affection,
" Yours, my dear mother,
" J. MEREDITH.
"P. S. My warmest thanks for the inestimable
box, which escaped the sea and land harpies, and
came safe to hand. The Artois buckle is a chef
cTceuvre, worthy the inventive genius of the royal
\count whose taste rules the civilized world. The
scarlet frock-coat, with its unimitated, if not inimita
ble, capes, does credit (as friend Rivington would
say in one of his flashy advertisements) to the most
elegant operator of Leicester-fields. I must re
serve it till I go to New-York, where they always
take the lead in this sort of civilization the boys
would mob me if I wore it in Boston. The um
brella, a rare invention ! is a curiosity here. I
understand they have been introduced into New-
York by the British officers. Novelty as it is, I
venture to spread it here, as its utility commends it
to these rationalists, who reason about an article
78 THE LINWOODS.
of dress as they would concerning an article of
" Once more, your devoted son, M."
Meredith s conscience was easy ! " He had not
committed himself!" Ah, let man beware how he
wilfully or carelessly perverts and blinds God s
Meredith was suddenly recalled to New-York,
and Bessie Lee was left to ponder on the past, and
weave the future of shattered faith and blighted
hopes. The scales fell too late from the eyes of
her mother and brother. They reproached them
selves, but never poor Bessie. They hoped that
time, operating on her gentle, unresisting temper,
would restore her serenity. She, like a stricken
deer, took refuge under the shadow of their love ,
she was too affectionate, too generous, to resign
herself to wretchedness without an effort. She
wasted her strength in concealing the wound that
rankled at her heart.
THE LINWOODS. 79
"}, % msidering how honour would become such a person, was
oleased to let him seek danger, where he was like to find fame."
ANOTHER sorrow soon overtook poor Bessie ; but
now she had a right to feel, and might express all
she felt, and look full in the face of her friends
for sympathy, for they shared the burden with her.
In the year 1778, letters were sent by General
Washington to the governors of the several states,
earnestly entreating them to re-enforce the army.
The urgency of this call was acknowledged by
every patriotic individual ; and never did heart more
joyously leap than Eliot Lee s, when his mother
said to him " My son, I have long had misgivings
about keeping you at home ; but last night, after
reading the general s letter, I could not sleep ; I
felt for him, for the country ; my conscience told
me you ought to go, Eliot ; even the images of the
children, for whose sake only I have thought it
right you should stay with us, rose up against me :
we should pay our portion for the privileges they
are to enjoy. I have made up my mind to it, and
on my knees I have given you to my country.
The widow s son," she continued, clearing her
80 THE LINWOODS.
voice, " is something more than the widow s mite,
Eliot ; but I have given you up, and now I have
done with feelings nothing is to be said or thought
of but how we shall soonest and best get you
Eliot was deeply affected by his mother s decis
ion, voluntary and unasked ; but he did not express
his satisfaction, his delight, till he ascertained that
she had well considered the amount of the sacrifice
and was willing to meet it. Then he confessed
that nothing but a controlling sense of his filial duty
had enabled him to endure loitering at the fireside,
when his country needed the aid he withheld.
The decision made, no time was lost. Letters
were obtained from the best sources to General
Washington, and in less than a week Eliot was
ready for his departure.
It was a transparent morning, late in autumn, in
bleak, wild, fitful, poetic November. The vault
of heaven was spotless ; a purple light danced
over the mountain summits ; the mist was conden
sed in the hollows of the hills, and wound them
round like drapery of silver tissue. The smokes
from the village chimneys ascended through the
clear atmosphere in straight columns ; the trees
on the mountains, banded together, still preserved
a portion of their summer wealth, though now
faded to dun and dull orange, marked and set off
by the surrounding evergreens. Here and there a
solitary elm stood bravely up against the sky,
THE LINWOODS. 81
every limb, every stem defined ; a naked form,
showing the beautiful symmetry that had made its
summer garments hang so gracefully. Fruits and
flowers, even the hardy ones that venture on the
frontiers of winter, had disappeared from the gar
dens ; the seeds had dropped from their cups ; the
grass of the turf-borders was dank and matted
down ; all nature was stamped with the signet seal
of autumn, memory and hope. Eliot had performed
the last provident offices for his mother ; every
thing about her cheerful dwelling had the look
of being kindly cared for. The strawberry-beds
were covered, the raspberries neatly trimmed out,
the earth well spaded and freshly turned ; no gate
was off its hinges, no fence down, no window un-
glazed, no crack unstopped.
A fine black saddle-horse, well equipped, was at
the door. Little Fanny Lee stood by him, patting
him, and laying her head, with its shining flaxen
locks, to his side " Rover," she said, with a trem
bling voice, " be a good Rover won t you 1 and
when the naughty regulars come, canter off with
Eliot as fast as you can."
" Hey ! that s fine !" retorted her brother, a year
younger than herself. " No, no, Rover, canter up
to them, and over them, and never dare to canter
back here if you turn tail on them, Rover."
" Oh, Sam ! how awful; would you have Eliot
82 THE LINWOODS.
" No, indeed, but I had rather he d come deused
near it than to have him a coward."
"Don t talk so loud, Sam Bessie will hear
But the young belligerant was not to be silenced.
He threw open the " dwelling-room" door, to appeal
to Eliot himself. The half-uttered sentence died
away on his lips. He entered the apartment,
Fanny followed ; they gently closed the door, drew
their footstools to Eliot s feet, and quietly sat down
there. How instinctive is the sympathy of chil
dren ! how plain, and yet how delicate its manifes
Bessie was sitting beside her brother, her head on
his shoulder, and crying as if her heart went out
with every sob. The youngest boy, Hal, sat on
Eliot s knee, with one arm around his neck, his
cheek lying on Bessie s, dropping tear after tear,
sighing, and half-wondering why it was so.
The good mother had arrived at that age when
grief rather congeals the spirit than melts it. Her
lips were compressed, her eyes tearless, and her
movements tremulous. She was busying herself
in the last offices, doing up parcels, taking last
stitches, and performing those services that seem
to have been assigned to women as safety-valves
for their ever effervescing feelings.
A neat table was spread with ham, bread, sweet
meats, cakes, and every delicacy the house afforded
all were untasted. Not a word was heard ex-
THE LINWOODS. 83
cept such broken sentences as " Come, Bessie, I
will promise to be good if you will to be happy !"
"Eliot, how easy for you how impossible for
"Dear Bessie, do be firmer, for mother s sake.
For ever ! oh no, my dear sister, it will not be
very long before I return to you ; and while I
am gone, you must be every thing to mother."
"Ill never was good for any thing, Eliot and
" Bessie, my dear child, hush you have been
you always will be a blessing to me. Don t
put any anxious thoughts into Eliot s mind we
shall do very well without him."
" Noble, disinterested mother !" trembled on
Eliot s lips ; but he suppressed words that might
imply reproach to Bessie.
The sacred scene was now broken in upon by
some well-meaning but untimely visiters. Eliot s