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Art. VI.— Trevelyan, by the Author of 'A Marriage in High Life.' 3 vols. 12mo. London, J 833.
T^HE heroine of this novel is one of those many young ladies who
make shipwreck of all true happiness from the utter incapacity to resist the charm of personal admiration—on whom the gentlest affections, the most generous dispositions, are in vain bestowed, along with the richest endowments of beauty and grace, because of the horse-leech craving of insatiable vanity; who trample on engagements which they have formed freely and leisurely, who break hearts that they know to be warm and devoted, who perpetually place themselves on the verge of ruinous guilt, and, if they escape the gulf, owe their safety to accident, to interference, to anything but their own prudence—and all this because, having no principle, the only foundation of what deserves to be called character, they are before whim, caprice, to say nothing of real passion, as straws and feathers are before the wind.
It is but too easy for poet or romancer to make his reader take part with the energies of passion, however guilty, so it be one—but to give fervent interest to the career of a thorough coquette, is a task not only of obvious, but of infinite difficulty— and which we scarcely think has ever been achieved with perfect success, except by the authoress of Trevelyan. We can fancy it possible that the world may see another Manon Le'scaut even, sooner than a worthy rival of Theresa Howard.
The mere canvass here, as in almost all ladies' fables, is a poor one: none of them have ever had the constructive faculty in any very extraordinary degree of development; but materiam superat opus. Theresa is a natural daughter—how much alas 1 does this circumstance imply !—She is an orphan, bequeathed to the guardianship of a very handsome, gallant, chivalric officer, Colonel Trevelyan, who being absent in India, she is educated and brought up in the profoundest quiet, at Richmond, by his sister, Miss Trevelyan—the most interesting of old maids —humble, gentle, religious, in all things the unwoildliest of human beings. The soldier comes home, anno cstatis thirty-four, when his lovely ward is in the blossom of seventeen; his arrival gives life and animation to the sequestered little cottage and garden of the spinsters; he falls passionately in love with Theresa, and she, hitherto treated as a child, returns his affection with what she herself supposes to be deep love. The Colonel is withheld, by a delicate scruple, from asking her hand in express terms—he thinks it his duty to defer this until she shall have completed her eighteenth year, at which period her father's will had determined the cessation of the guardian's authority; but there is
a complete. a complete, though tacit, understanding between the parties; nay, in the frankness of her virgin fondness, the innocent charmer has spoken words which could bear no possible interpretation except that most agreeable to Trevelyan. In the midst of this Eden-like existence, their path is suddenly crossed by a younger and airier, though not handsomer swain than the Colonel;—and it soon appears that Theresa's grateful admiration for her guardian could not protect dreamy seventeen against the fascinations of love made in more juvenile style than his, more fantastic, more scenical —more mixed up with enthusiasm about guitars and moonlight barcarollas—visions, early and late, of a graceful stranger on a long-tailed horse, followed by a large Newfoundland dog—in short, all those circumstances of mystery and romance, which hold such indescribable sway over the imagination of a fair damsel, whose notions of what love is, and what lovers ought to be, have been chiefly gathered from Juliet, Corinne, and other less celebrated heroines.
The novelist did well, by the way, to make Miss Howard a devoted student of 'Corinne;' there is no book so calculated to strengthen what is perhaps strong enough in every female mind, the taste and appetite for mere admiration; which taste at seventeen mixes itself up so very readily with the working of the senses —and which, by indulgence, so inextricably overtwines every part of the character, that none of Madame de StaeTs own readers ever much wondered at her famous confession in the latter years of her life, that she would give up all her genius and all her glory to be for one day a young beauty!
Colonel Trevelyan is a true preux chevalier. He tramples on, though he cannot extinguish, his own love, and consoles himself, as he may, with the belief that he has done everything for the happiness of Theresa, still dearer to him than life, when he has given her in marriage to Lord Herbert Leslie. The 'happy pair' go abroad—are numbered among the detenus of 1803—are lost sight of for six or seven years, and only heard of from time to time in uncertain rumours. Meanwhile Colonel Trevelyan, in consequence of the deaths of a cousin and an uncle, succeeds to the title and great estates of his family; and as Earl of Launceston unites himself in marriage with his late uncle's orphan daughter, the Lady Augusta—a handsome and well-meaning, but cold and dull woman, who makes him as good a wife as a cold, dull woman ever can be to a man of ardent feelings and high intellect. Children are born to them—and he is the fondest of fathers—he mixes in public life—is an active and distinguished member of the House of Lords—a model of worth and propriety in all his relations—and as happy as any man whose heart of
hearts hearts has once been stabbed by disappointment can ever be :— unconscious that when he wedded his frigid cousin the old flame had still lain smouldering beneath its ashes—chilled more and more every day to his wife by her even dogged stubbornness about little things, and her total incapacity to sympathize with him as to anything of a higher sort—but guarded both by a strong sense of honour and religious duty, and, in some degree, perhaps, by the sad experiences of his earlier days, from even dreaming of the fashionable flirtations of London. Such is his position, when one evening in the summer of 1808, he happens to look in at a grahd assembly in Manchester-square; and then follows a scene of which we must extract a considerable portion, for it appears to us not second to any one that could be quoted from the whole body of recent romance :—
'Trevelyan remained for some time in the recess of a window, engaged in interesting political conversation relative to the recent debate, totally unheeding the crowd which buzzed around. His companion being at length called away, he was left alone, but feeling no particular interest to attract him further, he continued at the same spot, his eyes Wandering carelessly over the moving mass, hardly conscious whom or what he saw. At last his attention was caught by a group of persons at a little distance, who appeared to be collected round some object of peculiar interest, and for lack of other occupation he for some time watched the party, although unable to discover any particular cause for the seeming general attraction.
• As it was now getting late, he was about to leave the room, when suddenly, by the moving of some of those who formed the crowd, he beheld a figure which immediately riveted his attention.
'She was dressed in the fashion of revolutionary France, a costume which, from the total separation of the countries during the last five years, had been little seen, or at least was not then generally adopted in England. Her shoulders, of most dazzling beauty, were naked nearly to the waist, and the lines of her graceful figure were scarcely concealed by the statue-like drapery which hung over it, and which appeared to be secured around her merely by her girdle. Long dark glossy ringlets hanging down on each side of her cheeks and throat, at the moment, entirely hid her features; but the general contour of her head, rivalling the beauty of a Grecian bust, gave full promise of perfection in the averted face.
• Trevelyan beheld all this with mixed feelings of admiration and disgust; but—on a sudden—a strange, mysterious presentiment took possession of his soul—he again gazed at the figure before him breathlesB with fear, hope, and anxiety. She at last moved—she turned towards him! At once every pulse in his frame ceased to beat; —he wildly looked again. She now on a sudden caught his glance, and instantly her eyes were earnestly riveted upon him! Those who have been separated by fate from the object of their romantic mantic affections, and have, perhaps, for years dwelt on the dear recollection until it has become a sort of dream of the imagination, well know that when at last that visionary form is suddenly realized before the eyes, it bursts upon the senses with the awfulness of a phantom. Such were Trevelyan's bewildered feelings, when he again beheld Theresa!
'On her part, to recognize him—to fly to his side—to seize his hand with rapture—to pour forth the most vehement expressions of delight, was the affair of a moment. But still Trevelyan continued to stare wildly at her, as if he had lost all power of speech or motion. Observing how much her abrupt appearance had agitated him, (for Theresa needed no one to assist her in reading the passions of the soul,) she, pressing his hand in her's, said, in a low voice, "Come with me into the next room—it seems nearly empty, and we may there talk more quietly, for this is no place for saying all we both have to ask and to tell;" and putting her arm within his, she led him into the outward apartment. When there, seated on a couch by her side, his hand still pressed in her's, and once more actually hearing the accents of her beloved voice, Trevelyan in some degree recovered from his emotion. He then ventured again to raise his eyes towards her; indeed, it was now only that he actually saw her, for all before had been confusion.
'At five and twenty, Theresa was still more beautiful than at eighteen; her figure, the principal charm of which had before consisted in the slim airiness of youth, was now beautifully rounded into a woman's form; her complexion was still more brilliant, her eyes still more sparkling. But Trevelyan withdrew his from their glance with a sort of mental shudder, for they had in them an expression which turned his very heart sick, although he could not—would not— have described it:—they told him of scenes to which they had probably been witness, and which appeared to have left upon them a stamp of their lawlessness!
• " And is it really you, Colonel Trevelyan?" said Theresa, looking at him with most unfeigned pleasure; "I can hardly believe it is not nil a dream! for you can form no idea of the happiness of this meeting to me—to me who have been so long an exile, and who have lived in such total ignorance of the existence even of every creature I loved, that I positively did not dare make inquiries after any one. Judge, therefore, of my delight on seeing you so unexpectedly! But I have so much to learn, I hardly know where to begin. First, bowever, tell me, may I venture to ask after dear, dear Treevy 1" and Theresa looked with painful anxiety in her companion's face for his reply. "My sister still lives," said Trevelyan, who had now at last recovered the power of utterance; "but well I cannot say she is." "And do you still live with her?—at Richmond?" inquired Theresa. "No," replied Trevelyan, with embarrassment,—" I live—1—am married!" "Married! good Heavens! tell me quickly to whom '." said Theresa, with increased eagerness. Trevelyan, with some hesitation tation of manner, named Augusta. "To Augusta! to your cousin the Lady Augusta?" It was evident that Theresa's first impulse had been to express surprise and disappointment, but, suddenly checking herself, " We did not somehow agree very well formerly, you know," said she; "but now she is your wife, I am sure you have taught her to be everything that is charming.—Excellent she always was; indeed, too excellent for me, which was, I fear, the true secret of our not suiting; and if that were the bar to our friendship before, what will it be now?"—added she, with a something between a smile and a sigh. "But I will be as hypocritical as I can, in order to win her regard, for your wife I must love, and your wife I am determined shall love me;" and as she uttered these words, she looked at him with an expression which, had he ever seen it in Augusta's countenance, he would have hailed as the promise of every future happiness
• At length a person looking hastily in at the door, which led from the next apartment, in apparent search of someone, exclaimed, " Oh '. there you are!" and a very good-looking young man coming up to Theresa, said, in rather a tone of reproach, " I have been looking for you everywhere for this last hour, and could not conceive what was become of you; Mrs. Lindsay bids me say she wishes to go home; —that is to say, if you can tear yourself away,' he added with a supercilious smile; and then, examining Trevelyan with no very satisfied looks, his eyes appeared to take Theresa to task for being thus occupied with another. "What! is it already so late 1" said she, with a sigh; "what'a pity! fetch me my cloak, Lascelles, and I will come directly." Then, as her unknown friend left the room, turning again to Trevelyan, she said in a low voice: "You must come to me to-morrow morning, I have still so much to say, and to ask." Trevelyan, who had neither time nor inclination to refuse the appointment, inquired where, and at what hour, he was to call on her. "There is my direction," said she, taking a card of address out of her bag, " and come as early as you like, at twelve—at any hour, in short, I shall be too happy to see you.''
'Her handsome young friend then returned with her cloak, and, as he assisted her in putting it on, "What in the world," said he, "is Leslie doing with himself? I have not set eyes on him to-day."—" A pretty question to ask me," replied Theresa, "I, who have not seen him since our arrival; I should have thought you would have known better by this time than to apply to me for news of my husband." Her friend laughed, and whispered something to Theresa, who also laughed; then holding out her hand to Trevelyan, with the sweetest expression possible, " u demain," she said in a low voice, " Remember twelve," and left the room arm-in-arm with her companion.
'How much had Trevelyan learnt by those few words which he had now overheard! They told him that Theresa was still a wife, which, from her strange silence respecting Lord Herbert, he had almost begun to doubt; they told him that that love for which he had sacrificed his own existence was gone! When in the open air, and
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