3

OverviewTranscribeVersionsHelp

Facsimile

Transcription

Page 0003

M. B. Smith "Who is Happy?"
Fiction (continued)
Left Column:
conscience, an internal conviction of error—
doubt and dread prevail—a sense of degradation
so humiliating and painful, that the esteem and
admiration of society afford no relief.

At least such was my experience. My ex-
terior of life was unchanged—I still possessed
the esteem and respect of society; not a cloud
obscured the sunshine of fortune. But beneath
this brilliant surface, all was dark and stormy.
Oh, the torture of covering a breaking heart
with a smiling face! This could not be long
endured. Yet, I did endure it for almost a year,
and had I been called to deal with a less gene-
rous nature than my friend's, God only knows
how the conflict would have ended. We had
reached the verge of a precipice—had either
of us advanced a step further, it would have
been fatal to both. But we loved virtue—we
abhorred vice, and at this trying period, on dis-
covering our danger, we recoiled—yes, with
horror recoiled from the precipice on which we
stood. In plainer language, we separated. I
entreated, with tears and sobs entreated him to
seek another home. He yielded, and became a
self-banished man, a voluntary exile from all he
held dear on earth, and left me innocent—but
left me wretched.

For many weeks afterwards, I lay, as it were
between life and death. The physicians called
my disease by twenty different names. They
knew nothing about it; and if they had known,
it would have been of no avail, they could have
administered no remedy for a heart torn like
mine.

Youth, and a good constitution triumphed
over this severe attack—I recovered. The
raging fever left me, but in a state so languid,
cold, and lethargic, as to deprive life of all in-
terest and enjoyment. Yet, crowds of friends—
visitants, rather—congratulated me on my res-
toration to a life that was a burden—an almost
unbearable burden. Even my child had lost its
power over my affections—they were benumbed,
insensible, or buried in one absorbing object.
Another sad and fatal effect of the tyranny of
irregular and ungoverned feelings.

During this period of listlessness and apathy,
I was so incapable of discharging the duties of
a mother, that my husband, cruelly, as I then
thought, but most judiciously as I now think,
insisted on sending my daughter from me. He
placed her under the care of his aunt, a most
excellent and kind woman. I murmured, but
I submitted, and sunk into a state of still deeper
despondency.

There is a strong analogy between the moral
and material world, and when I looked upon a
river swollen by torrents—its dark and perturb-
ed waters rushing furiously along, overflowing
and ravaging the banks it had once fertilized,
I compared my heart to the scene of desolation.

"Those turbid waters," thought I, "will
subside and regain their transparency and gen-
tle course; the ensuing season will restore
beauty and fertility to its devastated banks;—
will the analogy hold throughout? Shall sere-
nity and cheerfulness return to this wasted bo-
som? Shall hope and joy ever bloom again?"

Yes, the analogy did hold good. Time, with

Right Column
its lenient power, restored tranquillity to my
mind.

My seclusion from society was attributed to
the infirm state of my health, and my languor
and dejection to the effects of debility. This
repose and retirement, was almost enjoyment,
after the storm of contending emotions through
which I had passed. But, it was not allowed a
long continuance. Every step my husband ad-
vanced in the career of ambition, only impelled
him onward; he had gained a high ascent, but
aimed at a still higher. One mode to effect
this purpose was, to mix more with society
abroad, and to receive more company at home.
I complied with his wishes, as in duty bound,
and became a very slave to these new cares and
projects. Entertainment followed entertain-
ment—our hitherto select circle was opened to
a promiscuous crowd. Our expenses were thus
greatly increased without any corresponding
enlargement of our income, and my husband
was too just a man to live beyond his income:
the consequence was a retrenchment of home
comforts in order to make the necessary display.
Of course, many cares were added to my ma-
nagement of domestic affairs, and much time
unpleasantly consumed. None but those who
have made the experiment can imagine how
harassing, how irksome and wearisome such a
life is—a life in perpetual warfare with our
taste and inclination.

Had I felt any interest in my husband's
views, had I been solicitous for his success, I
should have found some satisfaction in making
the exertions and sacrifices necessary to attain
the desired object. But power and rank and
wealth were equally indifferent to me; I had
tasted all the pleasures the great world had to
bestow; they had lost their power to charm, and
I had formed habits in direct opposition to those
a public station would require. The restless-
ness of a dissatisfied mind, had now subsided
into a settled melancholy. I desired solitude,
and aimed only at tranquillity. The new
scheme destroyed both. However, I had not
choice. Entertainments were given at home,
and attended abroad.

Indifferent himself to what are called the
pleasures [italicized] of society, Mr. de Lacy, however, well
knew their attractive and conciliating power;
and that the frivolities he despised, often proved
effective means to further the aims of an am-
bition, built upon popularity, the only basis on
which, in our government, ambition can build.

Good dinners, brilliant parties, flattering at-
tentions, (and all the attentions of persons high
in office are flattering,) courteous manners, go
much farther than persons remote from the seat
of government would imagine, in securing suc-
cess to a political aspirant. Nor would it more
readily be believed, that neglect of the most
trifiling civilities, such as an omitted invitation,
or morning call unreturned, could change zea-
lous partisans into personal enemies, and that
the slightest inattention to wives or daughters
is as keely resented, as negligence to them-
selves. But this is a fact, and the wife of any
candidated for office, holds a very responsible
place, and may most effectually retard or ad-

Page Notes

Nobody has written a note for this page yet

Please sign in to write a note for this page