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War only does violence to all the sentiments of humanity, and never yet effected anything really good. On the other hand, it has been the prolific source of all the misfortunes and calamities that have befallen the world.
Among other pleasing evidences of harmony and of co-operation in the accomplishment of the benevolent objects of peace, were the recent reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada, which inaugurated a new era in the history of the relations of the States with the British colonies, and the benefits of which, it is to be hoped, will one day be extended to Great Britain. Already, indeed, a bill had passed Congress for reducing the duty on imports, and trading interests gave promise of being less and less fettered. Among such evidences may also be noticed the preservation of the Greenwich meridian for navigation, and the publicity attending Lieutenant Maury's observations.
That a feeling of amity and hearty good will, notwithstanding several local displays of cupidity overruling principle, towards the States generally exists throughout England, admits not of a question, and that this feeling is reciprocated by the wisest and best men in the United States is equally evident. The unprincipled and reckless among the public journals in England do not represent the mass of the population nor the thinking portion of the community, still less do similar prints express the public sentiment of America. The sympathy of race and religious feeling, quite irrespective of their national greatness, should make Englishmen proud of the American people, and induce them to regard them as an object of study and of interest rather than of satire and abuse, of emulation rather than of envy. A rupture between the two countries, for any cause whatsoever, save the absolute sacrifice of faith and national honour, or the periling national rights and liberties, would be the saddest affliction which could befal our race in either hemisphere. And our American brethren may collect from the most patriotic and best organs of public opinion in England how much such a collision would be deplored here.
This feeling does not arise from any low, sordid apprehension of the consequences in a mere pecuniary point of view, but from a humane dread of the horrors and insanity which such a fratricidal war would evoke, while it itself could lead to no possible or tangible good. As Providence leaves not the innocent unprotected nor the guilty unpunished, and as all injustice terminates, sooner or later, in revolution, we must leave the question of freedom and slavery, of union or disunion, to be settled amongst the States themselves by the sword or by mutual arrangement. The disruption concerns us so far as it for the time being interrupts trade and intercommunication, and arouses strong passions, but we have nothing to do with the results, which it remains with the Americans themselves to determine. We can afford to wish them well out of a trouble that was inevitable, so long as the plague-spot remained in her side. It has been long foreseen, and better that the crisis should come, and the curse and the shame be removed, it is to be hoped for ever. It will only tend to strengthen the ties already existing, for exclusive nationalities differ little from sects distinguished for their bigotry; while true patriotism, like true religion, the more faithful is its devotion to its great object of love and worship, the more largely and freely does it breathe the spirit of charity and good will to all mankind.
To the burial of William Carlyle came Lord Mount Severn and his son. Wilson had been right in her surmises as to the resting-place. The Carlyle vault was opened for him: and an order went forth to the sculptor, for an inscription to be added to their marble tablet in the church. "William Vane Carlyle, eldest son of Archibald Carlyle, of East Lynne." Amongst those who attended the funeral as mourners, went one more notable in the eyes of gazers than the rest; Richard Hare the younger.
Lady Isabel was ill. Ill in mind, and ominously ill in body. She kept her room; and Joyce attended on her. The household set down madame's illness to the fatigue of having attended upon Master William: it was not thought of seriously by any one, especially as she declined to see a doctor. All her thoughts now were directed to the getting away from East Lynne, for it would never do to remain there to die; and she knew that death was on his way to her, and that no human power or skill, not all the faculty combined, could turn him back again. The excessive dread of detection was not upon her as it had been formerly: I mean, she did not dread the consequences so much, if detection came. In nearing the grave, all fears and hopes, of whatever nature, relating to this world, lose their force; and fears, or hopes, regarding the next world, take their place. Our petty feelings here are lost in the greater.
In returning to East Lynne, Lady Isabel had entered upon a daring act and she found, in the working, that neither strength nor spirit was equal to it. Presuming upon the extraordinary change which had taken place in her appearance, and which, with her own care, rendered detection next door to an impossibility, she had suffered it to blind her judgment, and lead her upon a course that could only end badly. Let people talk as they will, it is impossible to drive out human passions from the human. heart. You may suppress them, deaden them, keep them in subjection, but you cannot root them out. The very best man that attains to the greatest holiness on earth has need constantly to strive and pray, if he would keep away evil from his thoughts, passions from his nature. His life must be spent in self-watchfulness; he must "pray always," at morning, at evening, at mid-day: and he cannot do it then. One of the greatest of our living divines, grey now with years and infirmities, said in a memorable sermon, preached in Worcester cathedral in the zenith of his fame and power, that the life, even of a good man, was made up of daily sinning and repenting. So it is. Human passions and tempers were brought with us into this world, and they can only quit us when we bid it farewell to enter upon immortality in the next.
When Lady Isabel was Mr. Carlyle's wife, she had never wholly loved him. The very utmost homage that esteem, admiration, affection could give, was his but that mysterious passion called by the name of love (and which, as I truly and heartily believe, cannot in its refined etherealism be known to many of us) had not been given to him. It was now. I told you, some papers back, that the world goes round by the rules of contrary-conter-rary, mind you, the children have it in their game-and we go round with it. We despise what we have, and covet that which we cannot get. From the very night she had come back to East Lynne, her love for Mr. Carlyle had burst forth with an intensity never before felt. It had been smouldering almost ever since she quitted him. "Reprehensible!" groans a moralist. Very. Everybody knows that, as Afy would say. But her heart, you see, had not done with human passions: and they work ill, and conterariness (let the word stand, critic, if you please), and precisely everything they should not.
I shall get in for it, I fear, if I attempt to defend her. But it was not exactly the same thing, as though she had suffered herself to fall in love with somebody else's husband. Nobody would defend that. We have not turned Mormons yet, and the world does not walk upon its head. When Queen Eleanor handed the bowl of poison to Fair Rosamond, she challenged the execrations of posterity, and they have been liberally bestowed upon her from that hour to this. The queen gets all the blame, the lady all the sympathy. Putting the poison out of view, I think the judgment should be reversed. Had Lady Isabel fallen in love with-say -Mr. Crosby, she would have deserved a little judicious chastisement at Mrs. Crosby's hands. Perhaps an hour or two spent in some agreeable pillory (why were they done away with!) might have proved efficacious. But this was a peculiar case. She, poor thing, almost regarded Mr. Carlyle as her husband. The bent of her thoughts was only too much inclined to this. (That evil human heart again!) Many and many a time did she wake up from a reverie, and strive to drive this mistaken view of things away from her, taking shame to herself. Ten minutes afterwards, she would catch her brain revelling in the same rebellious vision. Mr. Carlyle's love was not hers now; it was Barbara's: Mr. Carlyle did not belong to her; he belonged to his wife. It was not only that he was not hers; he was another's: you may therefore, if you have the pleasure of being experienced in this sort of thing, guess a little at what her inward life was. Had there been no Barbara in the case, she might have lived and borne it: as it was, it had killed her before her time; that, and the remorse together.
There had been other things, too. The reappearance of Francis Levison at West Lynne, in fresh contact, as may be said, with herself, had struck terror to her heart; and the dark charge brought against him augmented awfully her remorse. Then, the sharp lances perpetually thrust upon her memory-the Lady Isabel's memory-from all sides, were full of cruel sting, unintentionally though they were hurled. And there was the hourly chance of discovery, and the never-ceasing battle with her conscience for being at East Lynne at all. No wonder that the chords of life were snapping: the wonder would have been had they remained whole.
"She brought it upon herself! she ought not to have come back to
East Lynne!" groans our moralist again. Don't I say so? Of course she ought not. Neither ought she to have suffered her thoughts to stray, in the manner they did, towards Mr. Carlyle. She ought not; but she did. If we all did just what we "ought," this lower world would be worth living in; and the proverb, touching fruit defendu, would go out as a dead letter. You must just sit down and abuse her, and so cool your anger. I agree with you that she ought never to have come back; that it was an act little short of madness: but are you quite sure that you would not have done the same, under the facility and the temptation? And now you can abuse me for saying it, if it will afford you any satisfaction.
She was nearer to death than she imagined. She knew-judging by her declining strength, and her inner feelings that it could not be far off; but she did not deem it was coming so very soon. Her mother had died in a similar way. Some said of consumption-Dr. Martin did, you may remember; some said of "waste;" the earl, her husband, said of a broken heart-you heard him say so to Mr. Carlyle in the first chapter of this history. The earl was the one who might be supposed to know best. Whatever may have been Lady Mount Severn's malady, she-to give you the phrase that was in people's mouths at the time-" went out like the snuff of a candle." It was now the turn of Lady Isabel. She had no more decided disorder than the countess had had; yet death had marked her. She felt that it had: and in its approach she dreaded not, as she had once done, the consequences that must ensue, did discovery come. Which brings us back to the point whence ensued this long digression. I dare say you are chafing at it, but it is not often I trouble you with one.
But she would not willingly let discovery come; neither had she the least intention of remaining at East Lynne to die. Where she should take refuge, was quite a secondary consideration: only let her get smoothly and plausibly away. Joyce, in her dread, was for ever urging it. Of course the preliminary step was, to arrange matters with Mrs. Carlyle, and in the afternoon of the day following the funeral, Lady Isabel proceeded to her dressing-room, and craved an interview.
Mr. Carlyle quitted the room as she entered it. Barbara, fatigued with a recent drive, was lying on the sofa. She would scarcely take the notice.
"We shall be so sorry to lose you, Madame Vine! You are all we could wish for Lucy: and Mr. Carlyle feels truly grateful for your love and attention to his poor boy."
"To leave will give me pain also," Madame Vine answered, in a subdued tone. Pain? Ay. Mrs. Carlyle little guessed at its extent. All she cared for on earth, she should leave behind her at East Lynne.
"Indeed you must not leave," resumed Barbara. "It would be unjust to allow you to do so. You have made yourself ill, waiting upon poor William, and you must remain here and take holiday until you are cured. You will soon get well, if you will only suffer yourself to be properly waited on and taken care of."
"You are very considerate. Pray do not think me insensible if I decline. I believe my strength is beyond getting up: that I shall never be able to teach again."
"Oh, nonsense," said Barbara, in her quick way. "We are all given to fancy the worst when we are ill. I was feeling terribly weak, only a few minutes ago, and said something of the same sort to Archibald. He talked and soothed me out of it. I wish you had your dear husband living, Madame Vine, to support you and love you; as I have him."
A tinge of scarlet streaked Madame Vine's pale face, and she laid her hand upon her beating heart.
"How could you think of leaving? We should be glad to help reestablish your health, in any case, but it is only fair to do it now. I felt sure, by the news brought to me when I was ill, that upon William was overtaxing your strength."
your attention "It is not the attendance upon William that has brought me into this state," was the quick answer. "I must leave; I have well considered it
"Would you like to go to the sea-side?" exclaimed Barbara, with sudden energy. "I am going there on Monday next: Mr. Carlyle insists upon it that I try a little change. I had intended only to take my baby; but we can make different arrangements, and take you and Lucy. It might do you good, Madame Vine."
She shook her head. "No: it would make me worse. All that I want is perfect quiet. I must beg you to understand that I shall leave. And I should be glad if you could allow the customary notice to be dispensed with, so that I may be at liberty to depart within a few days." "Look here, then," said Barbara, after a pause of consideration; "you remain at East Lynne until my return-which will be in a fortnight. Mr. Carlyle cannot stay with me, so I know I shall be tired in less time than that. He and his office are quite overwhelmed with business, after his long sojourn in London. I did not care to go until August or September, when he will be at leisure, but he would not hear of it, and says we can go again then. I do not want you to remain to teach, you know, Madame Vine: I do not wish you to do a single thing. Lucy shall have holiday, and Mr. Kane can come up for her music. Only, I could not be content to leave her, unless under your surveillance: she is getting of an age, now, not to be consigned to servants, even to Joyce. Upon my return, if you still wish to leave, you shall then be at liberty to do so. What do you say?"
Madame Vine said "Yes." Said it eagerly. To have another fortnight with her children, Lucy and Archibald, was very like a reprieve, and she embraced it. Although she knew, as I have said, that grim Death was on his way, she did not think he had drawn so near the end of his journey. Her thoughts went back to the time when she had been ordered to the sea-side after an illness. It had been a marvel if they had not. She remembered how he, her husband, had urged the change upon her: how he had taken her, travelling carefully; how tenderly anxious he had been in the arrangements for her comfort, when settling her in the lodgings; how, when he came again to see her, he had met her in his passionate fondness, thanking God for the visible improvement in her looks. That one injunction, which she had called him back to give him, as he was departing for the boat, was bitterly present to her now: "Do not get making love to Barbara Hare." All this care, and love, and tenderness, belonged now of right to Barbara. And were given to her.