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In 1847, Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature and Art, edited by George R. Graham, and published in Philadelphia, published a story by James S. Wallace in its thirtieth volume (January 1847 to June 1847).
Wallace was a well-known newspaper editor, as well as a writer of plays. While most of his work is no longer available to us, we are thankful that Google Books has found this piece and made it available. It is transcribed below from the digital copy available on Google Books.
This short story is reflective of the style of writing common in that day. Wallace, who was knowledgeable in the political arena as well as the theater, provided many "inside jokes" on the politics of the times in his story of postponed love. Those who take note of such things, will wonder at his over-abundant use of commas throughout the story. This was typical of the time in which he wrote.
There is one point, near the beginning of Chapter III, when Wallace (or his editor) confuses us. At that point in the story you will find a brief note from me, in red print, detailing this confusion.
This transcription is provided for the pleasure of James S. Wallace's descendants. The rest of you are invited to enjoy it as well.
by James S. Wallace
"...I know he doth deserve
As much as may be yielded to a man;
But nature never framed a woman's heart
Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice;
Disdain and scorn hid sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on; she cannot love,
Nor take no shape, nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared." - Shakespeare
"There was a sound of revelry by night"music and the dancethe twin-born daughters of fashionable enjoyment presided o'er the scene. Amy Laverty shone like a blaze of beauty; it was almost impossible for a casual observer to decide in what particular grace or elegance she so excelled her compeers as to queen it over all. One admired the glossy ringlets, which fell in profusion over a brow and neck which would have defied the pencils of Inman or Sully, or the chisel of Powers; another, the intellectuality which beamed from her full eye, "soft as when the blue sky trembles through a cloud of purest white." Each beauty of feature and of form had its admirer, and though all differed as to her style of charms, still opinion was unanimous as to her transcendent perfection.
Rich in all these profuse gifts of nature's bestowing, the world had likewise been bountiful in its distribution of favors. Her parents were wealthy, and her life flowed on in one unbroken stream of careless, ceaseless pleasure. Scene after scene in the drama of life passed before her, heightened in its fairy, dream-like influence, by the continual good-humor and complacency of both the actors and auditors. The gilding and tinsel, which irised every view, and which that skillful artist, Fashion, presented with ever-varying hue, concealed the misshapen mass on which the coloring was laid. Art caused the plain canvas of life to glow with gaudy tints, and luxury, with unsparing had, laid on her rainbow pigments.
All was gay and joyous in the mansion of Mr. Laverty, on the night when Amy entered her eighteenth year. A splendid ball, unrivaled in brilliancy even in that recherche circle, had brought together the young and beautiful. The glare had attracted the fluttering insect and the ephemera of fashion, as well as those whose positions in society gave them the entrée where "exclusiveness" set her potent seal. Amid the wreath of loveliness which graced the apartments, the fairest flower was Amy; to the stately grandeur of the dahlia she added the softest delicacy of the rosethe air seemed redolent of gaiety where'er she moved, and the beaming joyousness of her smile won hearts in adoration.
And yet, was this bright, this gifted girl entirely happy? The world called her so, in its hollow acceptation of the term; she thought herself so. But there was a canker beneath all this brightness. An overbearing pridea dependence on wealth and flattery for happiness, was all-essential to her existence. She was surrounded by all that fortune and its attendant luxuries could give, and yet something was wantingit was a heart to love or contract a friendshipit was that sacred mellowing of our natures, which experience of salutary chastening alone can impart. The sunbeam of the world does not produce this ripeness of heart, clouds and gloom will best mature it; like the perfumed shrub, which is scentless until crushed, so from the soul most deeply wrung by woe, rises the incense most grateful to divinity. Though Amy dwelt in a paradise of the world's plantingamid it a demon was stalkingan insatiate fiend, whose presence was death to true happinessthe same which tempted our first parents to transgress, and this waspride!
"He really looks well to-nighta more manly form I never saw," whispered a fair young friend to Amy.
"Yes, he is passable," was her reply, "but, then, who is he? Nobodyhis father I am told is a small farmer in the interior of Lancaster county, and a certain proportion of the yearly proceeds of the dairy and the stock is exclusively set apart, I suppose, to enable my young gentleman to pursue his studies at the University here."
"Reallyquite a pity!" was all the "exclusive" young lady could drawl out in reply.
"And would you believe it," continued Amy, "he has had the assurance to interpret a little past politeness of mine into something more tender, and has actually dared to tell me that he loved me!"
"Reallyhow sentimental! He is quite romantic for a clodpole," was again drawled out in response.
The hands of both the ladies were now claimed for quadrilles, and the conversation was interrupted. In the mean time the object of their remarks as leaning against the folding-door of the apartment, and contemplating with an abstracted air, the gay group around him. And yet Henry Stanton was not of a disposition to allow pleasure to fleet away without claiming his allotted share. But now thought was burning within him, and he felt that a decisive moment had arrived in his destiny. He loved Amy Laverty deeply and purely. Unaccustomed to the frivolities of the world of fashion, and judging only from his own ardent impulses, he fancied that he had discovered an answering chord in Amy's heart which vibrated to the tone of his own. He knew not the difference between the conventional politeness of the ball-room, and those purer feelings which can be nurtured only by the fire-side. Stanton was skilled in the lore of books, but not in the inexplicable mysteries of the human heart. Being, however, of a decided disposition, and having resolved to woo, he determined without delay to make a more explicit declaration of his attachment to Amy.
He accordingly embraced the first opportunity which transpired, during the evening, to draw the fair girl into a favorable train of conversation, and reiterated his love in that style of mingled deference and fervor, which always gushes to the lips from the promptings of a manly heart. Amy listened in silence, and as he ceased, he clear, silvery laugh rang in his startled ear, as she exclaimed:
"Really, Mr. Stanton, the repetition of this honor is so unexpected, that I am at a lose how to reply, of how to thank you. What jointure, besides a green-vegetable stall in High Street Market, to retail your papa's cabbages, and your mamma's cream-cheese, as I to expect with your hand and heart?"
Stanton, for a moment, felt a death-like chill curdle his blood; bur reassuring himself, he replied calmly, and with the impressiveness of deep feeling: "I could bring you nothing, Miss Laverty, but an honest name; talents, which friends are partial enough to say I possess, and the ardent aspirations, which are the heritage of young manhood's resolution to win its way to honorable distinction in a profession, which has been adorned by the proudest names in the world's annals."
"Well, sir," said the proud beauty, with a toss of the head, "you offer lavishly of your abundance! In works of charity, I grant you, fair sir, your mite would be recorded with the millionaire's ostentatious subscription, but Amy Lavery's heart is not a 'poor-box,' to receive with equal gratitude either which may be offered. No I prefer equipage, and an establishment which shall be the envy of all, in actual possession, to your slow accumulation of legal fees in abeyanceand so, Mr. Attorney, you are answered a la Blackstone! But don't despond, Mr. Stanton, nor revolve over any of the dozen schemes of suicide which the alternate flush and pallor of your cheeks tell me you are meditating. I can be a generous friend, if not your devoted affianced, and my wrist is yours for the next waltz, although I see one approaching to ask the favor, who thinks his money can buy a claim to it, as his father did military bounty-lands during the last war."
They joined the whirl of dancers. Amy waltzed like a slyph. It does not require heart to waltz well. Stanton admired her graceful postures, and twined with her the mazes of the voluptuous dance; but the spell of the enchantress was brokenhe was heart-whole and free. He could, as a young and ardent lover, have forgiven any personal slight; but the cold sneer upon the quiet and unostentatious occupation of his parents, wounded him to the quick. When they separated for the night he had taken his first lessonread the first leaf in the mysterious volume of woman's heart, and he gleaned wisdom from its perusal. The midnight lamps may assist lovers as well as law-students in the prosecution of their respective occult sciences. The chandelier irradiates the volume of human nature, as does the taper the intricacies of Coke upon Littleton.
Yes,maidens, fair or brown,
Lofty or lowly,
Light as the thistle down,
As cypress holy
When poets whisper near,
Go join the dancers;
And turn a stony ear
To all romancers.James Smith.
Why should I toil in such a fruitless cause,
To serve a flirt, who only heeds the laws
That folly and caprice suggest?Bernal.
Four years had flown by. All Washington had assembled at the grand gala ball, which celebrated the re-election of Gen. Jackson to the Presidential chair. From every part of the Union, wealth, beauty and talent seemed to meet in this common centre of attraction; and the family of Mr. Laverty, the rich Philadelphia merchant, formed one of the most important integers of the great unit, Fashion.
Amy was lovelier far, than when we saw her last. Every petal of the bud had unfoldedshe was radiant as the very impersonation of beauty's selfher mien was queen-likeher arched brow and forehead had been sung as the ebon bow of Cupid reposing on a tablet of alabaster. Amid the gay revel, every eye was turned upon her. Ladies pronounced her stiff and formal, while the gentlemen protested that "Venus, when she rose, fresh from the soft creation of the wave, was not more beautiful!"
Amy must have possessed charms of no common order, or this unanimity of the female censure would have been destroyed. Panegyric, on the part of gentlemen, is not so certain a criterion, for we have known Sheridan Knowles drawn upon for a comparison, as above, when Shakespeare's "starved executors, the greedy crows," would have been more apposite, and have heard Moore quoted
Why doth azure deck the sky
But to be like thine eye of blue,
and applied to the veriest green gooseberry optics we ever saw! Such comparison, if not "odorous," as Mrs. Malaprop would have them, are nevertheless generally picked from the most forced hot-beds in the garden of compliment, and loom large, like the sunflower, with a special care always to face about to the rising beams of the sun of riches or fashion.
"I believe, Miss Laverty, I have engaged the pleasure of your hand for the next set?" said the gay, noble and fine-looking Frank Pennant, coming up to the belle of the ball-room.
"Certainly, sir, with all my heart," was the reply, as she rose.
"Fortunate dog that I amthen I have both your hand and your heart," laughed Frank.
A slight sigh escaped Amy. Why? Was she in love? Was the place where her heart ought to have been touched? "Nous verrons," as the politicians quote from the venerable father of the trans-Mason and Dixon line press.
"Others might sigh, my dear Miss Laverty," continued Frank, as he was leading Amy to their place in a cotillion, "for such a confession as you made just now! He will indeed be a happy man, who asks your hand for the grand promenade of life, and receives it with all your heart!"
"Do you think so, Mr. Pennant?" archly asked Amy, with a glance from her eye, which might have made Diogenes turn his tub bottom upward, to hide himself under"why, when you ask it, it would be almost heresy to refuse."
"Upon my word, Miss Laverty!are you sharp-shooting, or do you mean to canonize me? Heresy to refuse me! Why, my catalogue of rejections rivals in length that of an old operatic friend, Don Juan's conquests! Through all the grades in the navy, up to my present rank, I have been tossed to and fro by bright eyes and obdurate hearts, like a nautical shuttlecock, by the battledores of the fair sex! One had disliked my long voyagesthe other my short pay; one has had a soul above a middy, and passed me with a cut direct, just as I was entered "passed" by the commissionersanother left me, it being a losing game to love a simple lieutenant; while anotherah! she would have eloped with me to the world's end, at the risk of the rope's end, if I had but been a poor cabin boy, with a touch of the romantic in my disposition; whereas, unfortunately, that very day the President had promoted me, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate! So you see fate, professional promotion, the President and Congress, have all been against me, and I have been declined as often as any common noun in the entire language!"
"But now, Mr. Pennant," interrupted Amy, "as you have attached yourself to me"
"Attached myself! My dear Miss Laverty, how could I help it? Are we not,we poor devils, all and singular, the captives that swell your triumph? Look, now, at Walton, how he eyes me, half cannibalish, half wolfish, because I have unconsciously retained your hand after the last balancez? Excuse me!"
"Come, Mr. Pert, don't interrupt me. I was about to sayas you have attached yourself to our party for the last three weeks, and have been trying to make yourself exceedingly agreeable in my eyes, I shall demand that you report to me in future, and I will prevent you from being entangled in any of the labyrinths of our sex's wiles or whims!"
"Will you, indeed! What a sweet Ariadne!"
"I can give you the clue to escape the monsters!"
"And entangle me yourself at last,to weave a web and detain me for your own amusement, I trust!"
"Nay, Frank!pray excuse me, Mr. Pennant; I did not meando you really wish that I may entangle you in any web I may have the skill to weave?"
"Well, my dear Miss Laverty," replied Pennant, "three weeks have glided away very delightfully in your meshes, and I am free to confess the silken bondage pleases me. I love a flirtation, where no heart can be broken! I like to tilt against breasts of adamant, and shiver the spears of repartee against the solid barrier!"
"And judge you, I have a heart of adamant, Mr. Pennant?"
"I have been told so, Miss Laverty."
"And pray, by whom?"
"My old friend and class-fellow, Harry Stanton."
"Yes, you remember him? The son of one of our Lancaster county farmers, who has made such a sensation the past winter, as a member of your Pennsylvania Legislature, at Harrisburg."
"Oh, yes! Cabbages and cream cheeses, I remember!"
"He made love to me four years ago, and I was compelled to reject him."
"I know it, Miss Laverty. He told me you were without a heart, and therefore I have been under no restraint in our little innocent flirtations, as no life-chord can be cracked."
"Henry Stanton is a friend of yours, then?"
"Yes, Missalmost a brother. I shall marry his sister Kate, next May."
"You, Mr. Pennant!"
"Yesshe came, saw and conquered, the past fall, as I returned from my last cruise. A sweet girl she is, Miss Laverty."
"Mr. Pennant, will you step and find my father, and ask him to order the carriage? I have danced enough to-night, and will retire."
Frank withdrew, and Amy sighed again! That night tears wet her pillow. Tears around the couch of youth, and wealth and beauty! Ah! gold may purchase the gorgeous bouquet, to adorn the opera box, even in mid-winter; but all the wealth of India cannot buy one single shoot of heart's ease! It is a fairy plant, and blossoms loveliest in the humble shades of life!
And Amy slept at last; but she slept uneasily, amid confused dreams that Kate and Henry Stanton were attempting to poison her! About the same time, Queen Mab was with Frank Pennant, too, and he laughed happily in his sleep, as he dreamed that Kate was pelting him, in mimie play, with rose-buds and myrtle leaves, where his dear friend Harry looked on smilingly. If dreams are an index to our walking thoughts, it needs no somnosophist to interpret what was passing in the dark chambers of their thoughts!
Though each young flower had died,
There was the rootstrong, living not the less
That all it yielded now was bitterness;
Yet still such love as quits not misery's side,
Nor drops from guilt its ivy-like embrace,
Nor turns away from death's its pale heroic face.
Another four years passed away! The whirlwind which wrecked many tall a commercial house, and strangled many a long accumulated fortune, had passed over Philadelphia, carrying dismay, desolation and anguish. The firm of which Mr. Laverty was the head, bent, but did not break. Confidence in him was not impaired, for he was an unexceptionable business man; but it was well known that he had sacrificed more than half his fortune to secure the remainder.
And who that visited, during the summer of 1837, the various fashionable watering-places, does not remember that pale girl, who, attended by a doting father, sought a restoration of impaired health. Amy was lovely still; true, the sunny smile was gonebut, in the place of that garish splendor of radiance, which was wont "to burn like the mines of sulphur," there remained the calm and dreamy beauty of the moonlighted sky. The rose had fled her cheek, but the lilly, in all its purity, shone from her Parian brow. She had felt, at last, that she possessed a heart. She was no longer "a lump of ice in the clear, cold morn." But her heart was an unwritten scroll, upon which none of late dared attempt to inscribe the word "love." May admired, some adored,but her name had gone forth, as of a heartless coquette. To win her love, would have been ineffably sweet; but, like the French gallant, no one thought it reasonable to thrust his head into a hive in search of the honey!
"Amy Laverty looks better to-night, and begins to beam radiantly again, Walton," said a gay lounger, to his friend. [At first this 'friend' appears to be named Walton. Then, in the next few paragraphs it appears that he is actually Henry Stanton. To add to the confusion, the two men, Withers and his friend, begin to discuss Henry Stanton in the third person, leaving us to believe that Wallace intended for the character to be Walton when he finished the story, but neglected to alter the offending paragraphs to reflect this fact.]
"Yes," was the reply, "chaste as the icicle, and every whit as cold! Like the henchman of Harold the Dauntless, she has, or had, the faculty of chilling all who ventured within her influence!"
"Oh! you speak feelingly," laughed Withers, "for I remember, now, that she had you 'within her influence,' some years since, when you held a clerkship at Washington; and then she placed her icy fingers on you! A frozen child dreads the frost, I perceive, as much as a burned child does the fire!"
"Rail away, Tom! With honest Grumio, 'I confess the cupe!'" replied our old friend Stanton, who, at the Jackson Inaugural Ball, had been the subject of Pennant's remarks to Amy, during the flirtations of the dance. "The undeniable fact is, I was jilted." In those few words are embodied the history of Amy's life. "Van Buren never had so many applications for office, since he was inaugurated in March last, as she has had proposals, and the disappointed applicants have been about as numerous under one administration as the other. I was deeply, desperately, madly in love with her, but she cured mechilled me off!"
"Has she a heart, think you, Stanton?" continued Withers, with mock solemnity. "I have read of a French surgeon, who dissected a man, and found him without that organ. Do you not think that 'the Laverty' might be coupled with him, in this Noah's ark of a world, as the two of a kind?"
"Nay, hardly as bad as that! Amy has been thoughtless, ambitious, and possessed of the pride of Luciferlike him, she is a fallen angel; fallen from the effects of that pride, but I sincerely believe she has been humbled in a measurethat she has a heart, and that it has been touched. I have seen much of her; for my dismissal as her lover, never interrupted our friendly relations; and she has been an altered woman ever since Frank Pennant married Kate Stanton;but the change came too late, and she now stands a fair chance to 'lead apes,' for I know not the man who would venture to address her! The days of your Petrucios and Duke Aranzas as past, and live but in the drama. And so she attained the reputation of a coquette, and therefore"
"Yes, I understand," interrupted Withers; "but see, yonder goes Mr. Stanton, another of her discarded ones. I am told she passed some bitter slight on him."
"Yes, she made no secret of her scorn at the humble lot of his parents. But she little knew the brilliant career which destiny and perseverance had marked out for him. Henry Stanton goes to Congress this winter; and no man of his age was ever elected under such brilliant auguries of success. he has never married, and I have reason to believe that her conduct has had a marked influence upon his whole past life."
"Shortly after his rejection by her his father died. A frugal life had done as much as all the stock speculations at the Exchange could have effected, and he was found to be extremely richa round hundred thousand at the least. Stanton could have lived in east and independence; but his honorable pride was stung, and he seemed determined to win his way to eminence, that the proud beauty might see that mind, not money, was the true standard of nature's nobility."
"And do they ever meet now?"
"Oh, yesas cold friends. I have sometimes thoughtand were it any other man than Henry Stanton, I should be certainthat he loves her still. I have watched him gaze upon her, when he thought himself unobserved, and having known myself what it was to feel an unrequited passion, have been almost convinced that the old flame was only smothered or concealed, but not burned out."
This conversation details what "the world" thought upon the persons in whose fate our story is interested. And how was it with Amy Laverty? Was the proud, imperious beauty brought to feel the nothingness of pride when it would shut out from the heart the pleadings of youth, talent, and high chivalric honor. Had a miracle been wrought? It had, indeed; she would now have exchanged the world's wealth for the love of Henry Stanton. She had watched his brilliant career, at first with indifference, but at length the thought would intrude itself, that he, upon whose eloquence admiring listeners hung enraptured; whose fame was ringing through the land, and whose smile was courted by all, might have been hers. At such times the monitor within would say, what a noble pride it would have been to call such a man all her own. By almost imperceptible degrees the imperious girl was changed to an humbled and deep-loving woman.
This change of feeling, from one extreme to the other most opposite, is a curious constitution of human nature. It is only in the mysterious workings of Providence, and its various applications for the benefit of mankind, that we can trace the solution of this apparent paradox, that actions or feelings frequently produce effects the very reverse of those which we would have expected. thus joyous sensations often leave a tinge of pain, and sorrows bring a cordial balm to the afflicted heart. Tell the mother, who weeps the ruin of her hopes and joys over the grave of a darling child, that her offspring is now reaping the fruits of an innocent life in a world of never-ending bliss, and her rising sobs will show that these consoling reflections strongly augment her grief. The angry man is more deeply incensed at every mark of favor, and the conduct of the lover assured us, that "fears and sorrows fan the fires of joy."
The influence of this converted passion, if the term may be allowed, is co-existent with all our thoughts and actions, and occurs when the mind is occupied by some powerful feeling, whose commanding influence seems to subdue every inferior emotion. The patriot forgets individual wrongs in his love of country; the soldier knows not fear, anxiety, or hope, when the "big war" makes "ambition virtue." Even religion itself is not uninfluenced by this principle. The apostles, we are told, when confined in the prisons of Thyatira, sand praised unto God at midnight; as if the darkness and gloom of their dungeon, and the aggravating circumstances of their confinement, heightened the triumph of their devotions, and enabled them, notwithstanding the fearful earthquake which shook the foundations of their prison, to conduct with moderation and fortitude. The flames of persecution, while consuming the bodies of suffering martyrs, seem to have given new energy to the pious emotions of their minds, and enabled the fervency of their devotions to rise superior to every external object. The design of such a constitution of our nature is easily seen; it is thus the powers of the human mind are made to correspond with the occasion on which they are excited. It is a principle salutary in its effects upon ourselves, and illustrative of His character, who has established all things in benevolence and wisdom.
Thus we may see how the chastening hand can convert the proudest scorn to the timidity of love, feeling itself hopelessly unrequited; and by tracing the arcana of the heart's mysteries, discover how natural was the process, or rather the retribution, which turned the pride of Amy, and made her recoil from the contemplation of her former self.
I vowed that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine: have I not kept the vow?
With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours,
Each from the voiceless grave.
The lady's heart beat fast,
As half in joy, and half aghast,
On those high domes her look she cast.Shelly.
Again turn we to Washingtonthat mighty capital, that great political heart of our Union, from whose pulsations are supplied the entire arteries of our body politic. It was the memorable session of 1840, when the halls of legislation were turned into a hustings, and Whig and Democrat broke their lances in defense of Harrison or Van Buren, as their political predilections dictated; that session, when grave legislators took an inventory of the furniture of the presidential mansion, from the "gold spoons" down to the napkins of the pantry; when the horrors of a standing army were so vividly displayed, and guns, bayonets, and boarding-pikes bristled out from every line of Mr. Secretary Poinsett's annual report from the War Department; when the conqueror of Proctor, and the victor at Tippecanoe were proved a "granny" and a "coward," by men who had never smelt gunpowder in their lives, save in the homœopathic compounds of their boyish squibs and India crackers; when both parties succeeded, by most overwhelming arguments, in convincing their friends that the country would "go to the bow wows," if their antagonists succeeded; when the halls of legislation were stripped of every leaf, branch and limb, of their original design, and the hickory and the buckeye were formed in fantastic garlands around "the stump" which alone remained; when blood-hounds and conscience-keepers, tabourets and petticoats, British gold and bank bribes, were household and familiar words; when every man, woman, and child, were possessed of the devil of partisan malignity, and we staid United Staters sang songs, drank hard cider, held conventions, got up torch-light processions, and shouted for our candidates as if Bedlam had been keeping holyday, with its inmates all out electioneering.
One morning, in early spring, the galleries of the House of Representatives were thronged to suffocation, long before the mallet of the Speaker, called the members to Order, by a quasi "lucus a non lucendo" process! Time never seemed to lag so tardily, as did the hands of the clock, opposite R. M. T. Hunter's chairit appeared as if they would never point zenith-ward to the hour of high noon! Had it been the last night of a session when those hands have a prescriptive right to "hasten slowly" t othe witching church-yard hour, lest in the hurry of the closing scene, something might be omitted, which the law makers had no time to think of during the seven or eight preceding monthshad it been the close of a session, we affirm that those "tardy paced hands would have acquitted themselves to admirationbut now, never did Juliet when she had "bought the mansion of a love but not possess'd it" wish the "fiery footed steeds" to "gallop apace" with more intensity of expectation, than did the attending crowd long for the hour of twelve. At last it camethe humdrum voice of an assistant clerk was heard reading "yesterday's minutes" as monotonously as the sounds of a "woodpecker tapping the hollow beech tree." When Corwin of Ohio rose and moved that the further reading of the minutes be dispensed with, bright eyes in the gallery voted him thanks, and when the "morning hour" was over and the Speaker called the "orders of the day"then, "mute expectation spread its anxious hush" over the entire auditory!
"When the House adjourned with this bill under consideration, the gentleman from Pennsylvania was entitled to the floor," said the Speaker.
And Henry Stanton rose to the question. He who but a few years before had "no jointure but a green vegetable stall in the market" to offer the rich and proud Amy Laverty in exchange for her love! Calm, dignified and self possessed he rose, though a thousand eyes were bent fixedly upon him. This was the calmness of confident mastery of his subjectthe dignity of conscious intellectual greatness. Slowly, emphatically and unostentatiously he pronounced his exordiumthen with consummate skill, he combatted all the arguments of his opponents and fortified his own position. Warmed with his subject "rapt, inspired," he commenced his peroration. Brilliant as the lightning flash; glowing as the lava flow; bold, dashing, impetuous as the mighty mountain torrent was the character of his eloquence! Scarcely could the listening crowd restrain themselves from open applause and many rising indications of an almost irrepressible movement, were silenced by the Speaker's hammer.
Edward Stanton surpassed even all his former brilliant efforts! Was it caused by the excitement of the subject, the intellectual intoxication of success? No:his hour of triumph had arrived, the goal he had struggled for years to attain was won!for in the Ladies' Gallery, immediately over the Speaker's chair, and directly in front of the orator, sat Amy Laverty; she who, in early youth, had so cruelly scorned him; she who had withered the freshness of his heart, and dried up the gushing fountains of love in his soul! He saw not the crowd around himhe heard not the murmurs of applausehe heeded not the triumphant glance of political friends nor the gloomy looks of discomfited opponentshis soul was on his tongue, and as the jewels of rhetoric, the brilliant gems of oratory, and the diamond shafts of satire fell from his lipshe poured them all,prodigally, and with a feeling of supernatural power, as an offering before the shrine of his young, blighted and cruelly crushed love!
At length he closed amid the plaudits of the privileged few on the floor of the House, and the waving of snowy 'kerchief from the gallery. In the midst a stifled sob was heard, then a piercing shriek! "A lady in the gallery had faintedfrom the heat!"
Strange, inexplicable mystery of the human heart! Two wells of passion, long sealed up and apparently dried, had burst their confines!
Oh fame! oh popular applause! how little knew any in that Hall, why the young orator was so transcendently brilliant that day!How little divined the companions of Amy what was the cause of that sudden fainting fit!
The hospitable mansion of Secretary Woodbury was thrown open that evening. Gay forms crowded every room and silvery voices resounded through every hall. In a remote corner of one apartment, within the recess of a window, stood Henry Stanton and Amy Laverty. Their hands were intertwined; his eyes beamed with pride and hers with happiness. We have but a few words of their conversation to chronicle.
"Whywhy, ask me if I love you?" said Amy.
"Why?" responded Stanton in that deep voice and choking utterance which are only assumed when the heart speaks audibly; "why? that I may feel my day dreams are now reality; that I may know that time has worn away those faults of early education, which clouded the brightness of your native excellence; that I may be assured that we have both come out purified from the crucible of suffering, the fuel to which has been supplied from our very own hearts! I would know that you love me, that I may be supremely happy."
"Be happy then, as far as the knowledge of my love can make you so," frankly replied Amy"but oh Henry, in our after life, I fear me, I shall often have occasion to resist the tempter against which you have this day warned me, and to whose power over me, time, more than your words, had opened my eyes! I feel that while I have life I must have pride!"
"Yes Harry;pride in thee!"
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