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them, it might be imagined that if ever there were a situation fitted to nourish rivalship and jealousy, between two girls, here it might be anticipated in daily operation. But, left to themselves, the yearnings of the female heart tend naturally towards what is noble; and, unless where it has been tried too heavily by artificial incitements applied to the pride, I do not believe that women generally are disposed to any unfriendly jealousy of each other. Why should they? Almost every woman, when strengthened in those charms which nature has given to her by such as she can in many ways give to herself, must feel that she has her own separate domain of empire unaffected by the most sovereign beauty upon earth Every man that ever existed has probably his own peculiar talent (if only it were detected), in which he would be found to excel all the rest of his race. And in every female face possessing any attractions at all, no matter what may be her general inferiority, there lurks some secret peculiarity of expression — some mesmeric individuality — which is valid within its narrower range -limited superiority over the supreme of beauties within a narrow circle. It is unintelligibly but mesmerically potent, this secret fascination attached to features oftentimes that are absolutely plain; and as one of many cases within my own range of positive experience, I remember in confirmation, at this moment, that in a clergyman's family, counting three daughters, all on a visit to my mother, the youngest, Miss F- P, who was strikingly and memorably plain, never walked out on the Clifton Downs unattended, but she was followed home by a crowd of admiring men, anxious
to learn her rank and abode; whilst the middle sister, eminently handsome, levied no such visible tribute of admiration on the public.
I mention this fact, one of a thousand similar facts, simply by way of reminding the reader of what he must himself have often witnessed; namely, that no woman is condemned by nature to any ignoble necessity of repining against the power of other women; her own may be far more confined, but within its own circle may possibly, measured against that of the haughtiest beauty, be the profounder. However, waiving the question thus generally put here, and as it specially affected these two young women that virtually were sisters, any question of precedency in power or display, when brought into collision with sisterly affection, had not a momentary existence. Each had soon redundant proofs of her own power to attract suitors without end; and, for the more or the less, that was felt to be a matter of accident. Never, on this earth, I am satisfied, did that pure sisterly love breathe a more steady inspiration than now into the hearts and through the acts of these two generous girls; neither was there any sacrifice which either would have refused to or for the other. The period, however, was now rapidly shortening during which they would have any opportunity for testifying this reciprocal love. Suitors were flocking around them, as rank as cormorants in a storm. The grim old chancellor (one, if not both, of the young ladies having been a ward in Chancery) had all his legal jealousies awakened on their behalf. The worshipful order of adventurers and fortunehunters, at that time chiefly imported from Ireland,
as in times more recent from Germany, and other moustachoed parts of the continent, could not live under the raking fire of Mrs. Schreiber, on the one side, with her female tact and her knowledge of life, and of the chancellor, with his huge discretional power, on the other. That particular chancellor, whom the chronology of the case brought chiefly into connection with Miss Watson's interests, was (if my childish remembrances do not greatly mislead me) the iracund Lord Thurlow. Lovers and wooers this grim lawyer regarded as the most impertinent order of animals in universal zoology; and of these, in Miss Watson's case, he had a whole menagerie to tend. Penelope, according to some school-boy remembrance of mine, had one hundred and eighteen suitors. These young ladies had almost as many. Heavens! what a crew of Comus to follow or to lead! And what a suitable person was this truculent old lord on the woolsack to enact the part of shepherd-Corydon, suppose, or Alphesibæus to this goodly set of lambs! How he must have admired the hero of the "Odyssey," who in one way or other accounted for all the wooers that " sorned" upon his house, and had a receipt for their bodies from the grave-digger of Ithaca! But even this wily descendant of Sisyphus would have found it no such easy matter to deal with the English suitors, who were not the feeble voluptuaries of the Ionian Islands, that suffered themselves to be butchered as unresistingly as sheep in the shambles,— actually standing at one end of a banqueting-room to be shot at with bows and arrows, not having pluck enough to make a rush,— but were game men; all young, strong, rich,
and in most cases technically "noble ; "all, besides, contending for one or other of two prizes a thousand times better fitted to inspire romantic ardor than the poor, withered Penelope.
One, by the way, amongst these suitors (I speak of those who addressed Miss Watson), merits a separate commemoration, as having drawn from Sheridan his very happiest impromptu- and an impromptu that was really such (the rarest of all things from Sheridan). This was Lord Belgrave, eldest son of Lord Grosvenor-then an earl, but at some period, long subsequent to this, raised to the Marquisate of Westminster, a title naturally suggesting in itself a connection with the vast Grosvenor property, sweeping across the whole area of that most aristocratic region in the metropolis now called Belgravia, which was then a name unknown; and this Hesperian region had as yet no architectural value, and consequently no ground-rent value, simply because the world of fashion and distinction had as yet not expanded itself in that direction. In those days the territorial importance of this great house rested exclusively upon its connection with the county of Chester. In this connection it was that the young Viscount Belgrave had been introduced, by his family interest, into the House of Commons; he had delivered his maiden speech with some effect; and had been heard favorably on various subsequent occasions; on one of which it was that, to the extreme surprise of the house, he terminated his speech with a passage from Demosthenes - not presented in English, but in sounding Attic Greek. Latin is a privileged dialect in parliament. But Greek! It
would not have been at all more startling to the usages of the house, had his lordship quoted Persic or Telinga. Still, though felt as something verging on the ridiculous, there was an indulgent feeling to a young man fresh from academic bowers, which would not have protected a mature man of the world. Everybody bit his lips, and as yet did not laugh. But the final issue stood on the edge of a razor. A gas, an inflammable atmosphere, was trembling sympathetically through the whole excited audience; all depended on a match being applied to this gas whilst yet in the very act of escaping. Deepest silence still prevailed; and, had any commonplace member risen to address the house in an ordinary business key, all would have blown over. Unhappily for Lord Belgrave, in that critical moment up rose the one solitary man, to wit, Sheridan, whose look, whose voice, whose traditional character, formed a prologue to what was coming. Here let the reader understand that, throughout the "Iliad," all speeches or commands, questions or answers, are introduced by Homer under some peculiar formula. For instance, replies are usually introduced thus:
"But him answering thus addressed the sovereign Agamemnon;"
or, in sonorous Greek :
"Ton d'apameibomenos prosephé kreiōn Agamemnon ;
or, again, according to the circumstances:
"But him sternly surveying saluted the swift-footed Achilles ;" "Ton d' ar,' upodra idon, prosephé podas okus Achilleus."