Two Buckets in A Well by N. P. Willis

(From "People I Have Met" (now out of print).)

"Five hundred dollars a year!" echoed Fanny Bellairs, as the first silver gray of the twilight spread over her picture.

"And my art," modestly added the painter, prying into his bright copy of the lips pronouncing upon his destiny.

"And how much may that be, at the present rate of patronage—one picture a year, painted for love!"

"Fanny, how can you be so calculating!"

"By the bumps over my eyebrows, I suppose. Why, my dear coz, we have another state of existence to look forward to—old man-age and old woman-age! What am I to do with five hundred dollars a year, when my old frame wants gilding—(to use one of your own similes)—I sha'n't always be pretty Fanny Bellairs!"

"But, good Heavens! we shall grow old together!" exclaimed the painter, sitting down at her feet, "and what will you care for other admiration, if your husband see you still beautiful, with the eyes of memory and habit."

"Even if I were sure he would so look upon me," answered Miss Bellairs, more seriously, "I cannot but dread an old age without great means of embellishment. Old people, except in poetry and in very primitive society, are dishonored by wants and cares. And, indeed, before we are old—when neither young nor old—we want horses and ottomans, kalydor and conservatories, books, pictures, and silk curtains—all quite out of the range of your little allowance, don't you see!"

"You do not love me, Fanny!"

"I do—and will marry you, Philip—as I, long ago, with my whole heart, promised. But I wish to be happy with you—as happy, quite as happy, as is at all possible, with our best efforts, and coolest, discreetest management. I laugh the matter over sometimes, but I may tell you, since you are determined to be in earnest, that I have treated it, in my solitary thought, as the one important event of my life—(so indeed it is!)—and, as such, worthy of all forethought, patience, self-denial, and calculation. To inevitable ills I can make up my mind like other people. If your art were your only hope of subsistence—why—I don't know—(should I look well as a page?)—I don't know that I couldn't run your errands and grind your paints in hose and doublet. But there is another door open for you—a counting-house door, to be sure—leading to opulence and all the appliances of dignity and happiness, and through this door, my dear Philip, the art you would live by comes to pay tribute and beg for patronage. Now, out of your hundred and twenty reasons, give me the two stoutest and best, why you should refuse your brother's golden offer of partnership—my share, in your alternative of poverty, left for the moment out of the question."

Rather overborne by the confident decision of his beautiful cousin, and having probably made up his mind that he must ultimately yield to her, Philip replied in a lower and more dejected tone:

"If you were not to be a sharer in my renown, should I be so fortunate as to acquire it, I should feel as if it were selfish to dwell so much on my passion for distinction, and my devotion to my pencil as a means of winning it. My heart is full of you—but it is full of ambition, too, paradox though it be. I cannot live ignoble. I should not have felt worthy to press my love upon you—worthy to possess you—except with the prospect of celebrity in my art. You make the world dark to me, Fanny! You close down the sky, when you shut out this hope! Yet it shall be so."

Philip paused a moment, and the silence was uninterrupted.

"There was another feeling I had, upon which I have not insisted," he continued. "By my brother's project, I am to reside almost wholly abroad. Even the little stipend I have to offer you now is absorbed of course by the investment of my property in his trading capital, and marriage, till I have partly enriched myself, would be even more hopeless than at present. Say the interval were five years—and five years of separation!"

"With happiness in prospect, it would soon pass, my dear Philip!"

"But is there nothing wasted in this time? My life is yours—the gift of love. Are not these coming five years the very flower of it!—a mutual loss, too, for are they not, even more emphatically, the very flower of yours? Eighteen and twenty-five are ages at which to marry, not ages to defer. During this time the entire flow of my existence is at its crowning fulness—passion, thought, joy, tenderness, susceptibility to beauty and sweetness—all I have that can be diminished or tarnished, or made dull by advancing age and contact with the world, is thrown away—for its spring and summer. Will the autumn of life repay us for this? Will it—even if we are rich and blest with health, and as capable of an unblemished union as now? Think of this a moment, dear Fanny!"

"I do—it is full of force and meaning, and, could we marry now, with a tolerable prospect of competency, it would be irresistible. But poverty in wedlock, Philip—"

"What do you call poverty? If we can suffice for each other, and have the necessaries of life, we are not poor! My art will bring us consideration enough—which is the main end of wealth, after all—and, of society, speaking for myself only, I want nothing. Luxuries for yourself, Fanny—means for your dear comfort and pleasure—you should not want if the world held them, and surely the unbounded devotion of one man to the support of the one woman he loves, ought to suffice for the task! I am strong—I am capable of labor—I have limbs to toil, if my genius and my present means fail me, and, oh, Heaven! you could not want!"

"No, no, no! I thought not of want!" murmured Miss Bellairs, "I thought only—"

But she was not permitted to finish the sentence.

"Then my bright picture for the future may be realized!" exclaimed Philip, knitting his hands together in a transport of hope. "I may build up a reputation, with you for the constant partner of its triumphs and excitements! I may go through the world, and have some care in life besides subsistence, how I shall sleep, and eat, and accumulate gold; some companion, who, from the threshold of manhood, shared every thought—and knew every feeling—some pure and present angel who walked with me and purified my motives and ennobled my ambitions, and received from my lips and eyes, and from the beating of my heart against her own, all the love I had to give in a lifetime. Tell me, Fanny! tell me, my sweet cousin! is not this a picture of bliss, which, combined with success in my noble art, might make a Paradise on earth for you and me?"

The hand of Fanny Bellairs rested on the upturned forehead of her lover as he sat at her feet in the deepening twilight, and she answered him with such sweet words as are linked together by spells known only to woman—but his palette and pencils were, nevertheless, burned in solemn holocaust that very night, and the lady carried her point, as ladies must. And, to the importation of silks from Lyons, was devoted, thenceforth, the genius of a Raphael—perhaps! Who knows?

The reader will naturally have gathered from this dialogue that Miss Fanny Bellairs had black eyes, and was rather below the middle stature. She was a belle, and it is only belle-metal of this particular description which is not fusible by "burning words." She had mind enough to appreciate fully the romance and enthusiasm of her cousin, Philip Ballister, and knew precisely the phenomena which a tall blonde (this complexion of woman being soluble in love and tears) would have exhibited under a similar experiment. While the fire of her love glowed, therefore, she opposed little resistance, and seemed softened and yielding, but her purpose remained unaltered, and she rang out "No!" the next morning, with a tone as little changed as a convent-bell from matins to vespers, though it has passed meantime through the furnace of an Italian noon.

Fanny was not a designing girl, either. She might have found a wealthier customer for her heart than her cousin Philip. And she loved this cousin as truly and well as her nature would admit, or as need be, indeed. But two things had conspired to give her the unmalleable quality just described—a natural disposition to confide, first and foremost, on all occasions, in her own sagacity, and a vivid impression made upon her mind by a childhood of poverty. At the age of twelve she had been transferred from the distressed fireside of her mother, Mrs. Bellairs, to the luxurious roof of her aunt, Mrs. Ballister, and, her mother dying soon after, the orphan girl was adopted, and treated as a child; but the memory of the troubled hearth at which she had first learned to observe and reason, colored all the purposes and affections, thoughts, impulses, and wishes of the ripening girl, and to think of happiness in any proximity to privation seemed to her impossible, even though it were in the bosom of love. Seeing no reason to give her cousin credit for any knowledge of the world beyond his own experience, she decided to think for him as well as love him, and, not being so much pressed as the enthusiastic painter by the "besoin d'aimer et de se faire aimer," she very composedly prefixed, to the possession of her hand, the trifling achievement of getting rich—quite sure that if he knew as much as she, he would willingly run that race without the incumbrance of matrimony.

The death of Mr. Ballister, senior, had left the widow and her two boys more slenderly provided for than was anticipated—Phil's portion, after leaving college, producing the moderate income before mentioned. The elder brother had embarked in his father's business, and it was thought best on all hands for the younger Ballister to follow his example. But Philip, whose college leisure had been devoted to poetry and painting, and whose genius for the latter, certainly, was very decided, brought down his habits by a resolute economy to the limits of his income, and took up the pencil for a profession. With passionate enthusiasm, great purity of character, distaste for all society not in harmony with his favorite pursuit, and an industry very much concentrated and rendered effective by abstemious habits, Philip Ballister was very likely to develop what genius might lie between his head and hand, and his progress in the first year had been allowed, by eminent artists, to give very unusual promise. The Ballisters were still together, under the maternal roof, and the painter's studies were the portraits of the family, and Fanny's picture, of course, much the most difficult to finish. It would be very hard if a painter's portrait of his liege mistress, the lady of his heart, were not a good picture, and Fanny Bellairs on canvas was divine accordingly. If the copy had more softness of expression than the original (as it was thought to have), it only proves that wise men have for some time suspected, that love is more dumb than blind, and the faults of our faultless idols are noted, however unconsciously. Neither thumb-screws nor hot coals—nothing probably but repentance after matrimony—would have drawn from Philip Ballister, in words, the same correction of his mistress's foible that had oozed out through his treacherous pencil!

Cupid is often drawn as a stranger pleading to be "taken in," but it is a miracle that he is not invariably drawn as a portrait-painter. A bird tied to the muzzle of a gun—an enemy who has written a book—an Indian prince under the protection of Giovanni Bulletto (Tuscan for John Bull),—is not more close upon demolition, one would think, than the heart of a lady delivered over to a painter's eyes, posed, draped, and lighted with the one object of studying her beauty. If there be any magnetism in isolated attention, any in steadfast gazing, any in passes of the hand hither and thither—if there be any magic in ce doux demi-jour so loved in France, in stuff for flattery ready pointed and feathered, in freedom of admiration, "and all in the way of business"—then is a lovable sitter to a love-like painter in "parlous" vicinity (as the new school would phrase it) to sweet heart-land! Pleasure in a vocation has no offset in political economy as honor has ("the more honor the less profit"), or portrait-painters would be poorer than poets.

And, malgré his consciousness of the quality which required softening in his cousin's beauty, and malgré his rare advantages for obtaining over her a lover's proper ascendency, Mr. Philip Ballister bowed to the stronger will of Miss Fanny Bellairs, and sailed for France on his apprenticeship to Mammon.

The reader will please to advance five years. Before proceeding thence with our story, however, let us take a Parthian glance at the overstepped interval. Philip Ballister had left New York with the triple vow that he would enslave every faculty of his mind and body to business, that he would not return till he had made a fortune, and that such interstices as might occur in the building up of this chateau for felicity should be filled with sweet reveries about Fanny Bellairs. The forsworn painter had genius, as we have before hinted, and genius is (as much as it is any one thing) the power of concentration. He entered upon his duties, accordingly with a force and patience of application which soon made him master of what are called business habits, and, once in possession of the details, his natural cleverness gave him a speedy insight to all the scope and tactics of his particular field of trade. Under his guidance, the affairs of the house were soon in a much more prosperous train, and, after a year's residence at Lyons, Philip saw his way very clear to manage them with a long arm and take up his quarters in Paris. "Les fats sont les seuls hommes qui aient soin d'eux mêmes," says a French novelist, but there is a period, early or late, in the lives of the cleverest men, when they become suddenly curious as to their capacity for the graces. Paris, to a stranger who does not visit in the Faubourg St. Germain, is a republic of personal exterior, where the degree of privilege depends, with Utopian impartiality, on the style of the outer man; and Paris, therefore, if he is not already a Bachelor of Arts (qu?—beau's Arts), usually serves the traveller as an Alma Mater of the pomps and vanities.

Phil. Ballister, up to the time of his matriculation in Chaussée d'Antin, was a romantic-looking sloven. From this to a very dashing coxcomb is but half a step, and, to be rid of the coxcombry and retain a look of fashion, is still within the easy limits of imitation. But—to obtain superiority of presence, with no apparent aid from dress and no describable manner, and to display, at the same time, every natural advantage in effective relief, and, withal, to adapt this subtle philtre, not only to the approbation of the critical and censorious, but to the taste of fair women gifted with judgment as God pleases—this is a finish not born with any man (though unsuccessful if it do not seem to be), and never reached in the apprenticeship of life, and never reached at all by men not much above their fellows. He who has it, has "bought his doublet in Italy, his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behavior everywhere," for he must know, as a chart of quicksands, the pronounced models of other nations; but to be a "picked man of countries," and to have been a coxcomb and a man of fashion, are, as a painter would say, but the setting of the palette toward the making of the chef-d'œuvre.

Business prospered, and the facilities of leisure increased, while Ballister passed through these transitions of taste, and he found intervals to travel, and time to read, and opportunity to indulge, as far as he could with the eye only, his passion for knowledge in the arts. To all that appertained to the refinement of himself, he applied the fine feelers of a delicate and passionate construction, physical and mental, and, as the reader will already have included, wasted on culture comparatively unprofitable, faculties that would have been better employed but for the meddling of Miss Fanny Bellairs.

Ballister's return from France was heralded by the arrival of statuary and pictures, books, furniture, and numberless articles of tasteful and costly luxury. The reception of these by the family at home threw rather a new light on the probable changes in the long-absent brother, for, from the signal success of the business he had managed, they had very naturally supposed that it was the result only of unremitted and plodding care. Vague rumors of changes in his personal appearance had reached them, such as might be expected from conformity to foreign fashions, but those who had seen Philip Ballister in France, and called subsequently on the family in New York, were not people qualified to judge of the man, either from their own powers of observation or from any confidence he was likely to put forward while in their society. His letters had been delightful, but they were confined to third-person topics, descriptions of things likely to interest them, etc., and Fanny had few addressed personally to herself, having thought it worth while, for the experiment sake, or for some other reason, to see whether love would subsist without it usual pabulum of tender correspondence, and a veto on love-letters having served her for a parting injunction at Phil's embarkation for Havre. However varied by their different fancies, the transformation looked for by the whole family was substantially the same—the romantic artist sobered down to a practical, plain man of business. And Fanny herself had an occasional misgiving as to her relish for his counting-house virtues and manners; though, on the detection of the feeling, she immediately closed her eyes upon it, and drummed up her delinquent constancy for "parade and inspection."

All bustles are very much alike (we use the word as defined in Johnson), and the reader will appreciate our delicacy, besides, in not intruding on the first reunion of relatives and lovers long separated.

The morning after Philip Ballister's arrival, the family sat long at breakfast. The mother's gaze fastened untiringly on the features of her son—still her boy—prying into them with a vain effort to reconcile the face of the man with the cherished picture of the child with sunny locks, and noting little else than the work of inward change upon the countenance and expression. The brother, with the predominant feeling of respect for the intelligence and industry of one who had made the fortunes of the house, read only subdued sagacity in the perfect simplicity of his whole exterior. And Fanny—Fanny was puzzled. The bourgeoisie and ledger-bred hardness of manner which she had looked for were not there, nor any variety of the "foreign slip-slop" common to travelled youth, nor any superciliousness, nor (faith!) any wear and tear of youth and good looks—nothing that she expected—nothing! Not even a French guard-chain!

What there was in her cousin's manners and exterior, however, was much more difficult to define by Miss Bellairs than what there was not. She began the renewal of their intercourse with very high spirits, herself—the simple nature and unpretendingness of his address awakening only an unembarrassed pleasure at seeing him again—but she soon began to suspect there was an exquisite refinement in this very simplicity, and to wonder "at the trick of it;" and, after the first day passed in his society, her heart beat when he spoke to her, as it did not use to beat when she was sitting to him for her picture, and listening to his passionate love-making. And, with all her faculties, she studied him. What was the charm of his presence? He was himself, and himself only. He seemed perfect, but he seemed to have arrived at perfection like a statue, not like a picture—by what had been taken away, not by what had been laid on. He was as natural as a bird, and as graceful and unembarrassed. He neither forced conversation, nor pressed the little attentions of the drawing-room, and his attitudes were full of repose; yet she was completely absorbed in what he said, and she had been impressed imperceptibly with his high-bred politeness, and the singular elegance of his person. Fanny felt there was a change in her relative position to her cousin. In what it consisted, or which had the advantage, she was perplexed to discover—but she bit her lips as she caught herself thinking that if she were not engaged to marry Philip Ballister, she should suspect that she had just fallen irrecoverably in love with him.

It would have been a novelty in the history of Miss Bellairs that any event to which she had once consented, should admit of reconsideration; and the Ballister family, used to her strong will, were confirmed fatalists as to the coming about of her ends and aims. Her marriage with Philip, therefore, was discussed, cœur ouvert, from his first arrival, and, indeed, in her usual fashion of saving others the trouble of making up their minds, "herself had named the day." This, it is true, was before his landing, and was, then, an effort of considerable magnanimity, as the expectant Penelope was not yet advised of her lover's state of preservation or damages by cares and keeping. If Philip had not found his wedding-day fixed on his arrival, however, he probably would have had a voice in the naming of it, for, with Fanny's new inspirations as to his character, there had grown up a new flower in her garden of beauties—timidity! What bird of the air had sown the seed in such a soil was a problem to herself—but true it was!—the confident belle had grown a blushing trembler! She would as soon have thought of bespeaking her wings for the sky, as to have ventured on naming the day in a short week after.

The day was named, however, and the preparations went on—nem. con.—the person most interested (after herself) accepting every congratulation and allusion, touching the event, with the most impenetrable suavity. The marbles and pictures, upholstery and services, were delivered over to the order of Miss Bellairs, and Philip, disposed, apparently, to be very much a recluse in his rooms, or, at other times, engrossed by troops of welcoming friends, saw much less of his bride elect than suited her wishes, and saw her seldom alone. By particular request, also, he took no part in the plenishing and embellishing of the new abode—not permitted even to inquire where it was situated; and, under this cover, besides the pleasure of having her own way, Fanny concealed a little secret, which, when disclosed, she now felt, would figure forth Philip's comprehension, her whole scheme of future happiness. She had taken the elder brother into her counsels a fortnight after Philip's return, and, with his aid and consent, had abandoned the original idea of a house in town, purchased a beautifully-secluded estate and cottage ornée, on the East River, and transferred thither all the objects of art, furniture, etc. One room only of the maternal mansion was permitted to contribute its quota to the completion of the bridal dwelling—the wing, never since inhabited, in which Philip had made his essay as a painter—and, without variation of a cobweb, and, with whimsical care and effort on the part of Miss Fanny, this apartment was reproduced at Revedere—her own picture on the easel, as it stood on the night of his abandonment of his art, and palette, pencils and colors in tempting readiness on the table. Even the fire-grate of the old studio had been re-set in the new, and the cottage throughout had been refitted with a view to occupation in the winter. And to sundry hints on the part of the elder brother, that some thought should be given to a city residence—for the Christmas holidays at least—Fanny replied, through a blush, that she would never wish to see the town—with Philip at Revedere!

Five years had ripened and mellowed the beauty of Fanny Bellairs, and the same summer-time of youth had turned into fruit the feeling left by Philip in bud and flower. She was ready now for love. She had felt the variable temper of society, and there was a presentiment in the heart, of receding flatteries and the winter of life. It was with mournful self-reproach that she thought of the years wasted in separation, of her own choosing, from the man she loved; and, with the power to recall time, she would have thanked God with tears of joy for the privilege of retracing the chain of life to that link of parting. Not worth a day of those lost years, she bitterly confessed to herself, was the wealth they had purchased.

It lacked as little as one week of "the happy day," when the workmen were withdrawn from Revedere, and the preparations for a family breakfast, to be succeeded by the agreeable surprise to Philip of informing him he was at home, were finally completed. One or two very intimate friends were added to the party, and the invitations (from the elder Ballister) proposed simply a déjeuner sur l'herbe in the grounds of an unoccupied villa, the property of an acquaintance.

With the subsiding of the excitement of return, the early associations which had temporarily confused and colored the feelings of Philip Ballister settled gradually away, leaving uppermost once more the fastidious refinement of the Parisian. Through this medium, thin and cold, the bubbles from the breathing of the heart of youth, rose rarely and reluctantly. The Ballisters held a good station in society, without caring for much beyond the easy conveniences of life, and Fanny, though capable of any degree of elegance, had not seen the expediency of raising the tone of her manners above that of her immediate friends. Without being positively distasteful to Philip, the family circle, Fanny included, left him much to desire in the way of society, and, unwilling to abate the warmth of his attentions while with them, he had latterly pleaded occupation more frequently, and passed his time in the more congenial company of his library of art. This was the less noticed that it gave Miss Bellairs the opportunity to make frequent visits to the workmen at Revedere, and, in the polished devotion of her betrothed when with her, Fanny saw nothing reflected but her own daily increasing tenderness and admiration.

The morning of fête came in like the air in an overture—a harmony of all the instruments of summer. The party were at the gate of Revedere by ten, and the drive through the avenue to the lawn drew a burst of delighted admiration from all. The place was exquisite, and seen in its glory, and Fanny's heart was brimming with gratified pride and exultation. She assumed at once the dispensation of the honors, and beautiful she looked with her snowy dress and raven ringlets flitting across the lawn, and queening it like Perdita among the flowers. Having narrowly escaped bursting into tears of joy when Philip pronounced the place prettier than anything he had seen in his travels, she was, for the rest of the day, calmly happy; and, with the grateful shade, the delicious breakfast in the grove, the rambling and boating on the river, the hours passed off like dreams, and no one even hinted a regret that the house itself was under lock and bar. And so the sun set, and the twilight came on, and the guests were permitted to order round their carriages and depart, the Ballisters accompanying them to the gate. And, on the return of the family through the avenue, excuses were made for idling hither and thither, till light began to show through the trees, and, by the time of their arrival at the lawn, the low windows of the cottage poured forth streams of light, and the open doors, and servants busy within, completed a scene more like magic than reality. Philip was led in by the excited girl who was the fairy of the spell, and his astonishment at the discovery of his statuary and pictures, books and furniture, arranged in complete order within, was fed upon with the passionate delight of love in authority.

When an hour had been spent in examining and admiring the different apartments, an inner room was thrown open, in which supper was prepared, and this fourth act in the day's drama was lingered over in untiring happiness by the family.

Mrs. Ballister, the mother, rose and retired, and Philip pleaded indisposition, and begged to be shown to the room allotted to him. This was ringing-up the curtain for the last act sooner than had been planned by Fanny, but she announced herself as his chamberlain, and, with her hands affectionately crossed on his arm, led him to a suite of rooms in a wing still unvisited, and, with a goodnight kiss, left him at the open door of the revived studio, furnished for the night with a bachelor's bed. Turning upon the threshold, he closed the door with a parting wish of sweet dreams, and Fanny, after listening a moment with a vain hope of overhearing some expression of pleasure, and lingering again on her way back, to be overtaken by her surprised lover, sought her own bed without rejoining the circle, and passed a sleepless and happy night of tears and joy.

Breakfast was served the next morning on a terrace overlooking the river, and it was voted by acclamation that Fanny never before looked so lovely. As none but the family were to be present, she had stolen a march on her marriage wardrobe, and added to her demi-toilet a morning cap of exquisite becomingness. Altogether she looked deliciously wife-like, and did the honors of the breakfast-table with a grace and sweetness that warmed out love and compliments even from the sober soil of household intimacy. Philip had not yet made his appearance, and they lingered long at table, till at last, a suggestion that he might be ill started Fanny to her feet, and she ran to his door before a servant could be summoned.

The rooms were open, and the bed had not been occupied. The candle was burned to the socket, and on the easel, resting against the picture, was a letter addressed—"Miss Fanny Bellairs."


"I have followed up to this hour, my fair cousin, in the path you have marked out for me. It has brought me back, in this chamber, to the point from which I started under your guidance, and if it had brought me back unchanged—if it restored me my energy, my hope, and my prospect of fame, I should pray Heaven that it would also give me back my love, and be content—more than content, if it gave me back also my poverty. The sight of my easel, and of the surroundings of my boyish dreams of glory, have made my heart bitter. They have given form and voice to a vague unhappiness, which has haunted me through all these absent years—years of degrading pursuits and wasted powers—and it now impels me from you, kind and lovely as you are, with an aversion I cannot control. I cannot forgive you. You have thwarted my destiny. You have extinguished with sordid cares a lamp within me, that might, by this time, have shone through the world. And what am I, since your wishes are accomplished? Enriched in pocket, and bankrupt in happiness and self-respect.

"With a heart sick, and a brain aching for distinction, I have come to an unhonored stand-still at thirty! I am a successful tradesman, and in this character I shall probably die. Could I begin to be a painter now, say you? Alas! my knowledge of the art is too great for patience with the slow hand! I could not draw a line without despair. The pliant fingers and the plastic mind must keep pace to make progress in art. My taste is fixed, and my imagination uncreative, because chained down by certainties; and the shortsighted ardor and daring experiments which are indispensable to sustain and advance the follower in Raphael's footsteps, are too far behind for my resuming. The tide ebbed from me at the accursed burning of my pencils by your pitiless hand, and from that hour I have felt hope receding. Could I be happy with you, stranded here in ignoble idleness, and owing to you the loss of my whole venture of opportunity? No, Fanny?—surely no!

"I would not be unnecessarily harsh. I am sensible of your affection and constancy. I have deferred this explanation unwisely, till the time and place make it seem more cruel. You are at this very moment, I well know, awake in your chamber, devoting to me the vigils of a heart overflowing with tenderness. And I would—if it were possible—if it were not utterly beyond my powers of self sacrifice and concealment—I would affect a devotion I cannot feel, and carry out this error through a life of artifice and monotony. But here, again, the work is your own, and my feelings revert bitterly to your interference. If there were no other obstacle to my marrying you—if you were not associated repulsively with the dark cloud on my life, you are not the woman I could now enthrone in my bosom. We have diverged since the separation which I pleaded against, and which you commanded. I need for my idolatry, now, a creature to whom the sordid cares you have sacrificed me to, are utterly unknown—a woman born and educated in circumstances where want is never feared, and where calculation never enters. I must lavish my wealth, if I fulfil my desire, on one who accepts it like the air she breathes, and who knows the value of nothing but love—a bird with a human soul and form, believing herself free of all the world is rich in, and careful only for pleasure and the happiness of those who belong to her. Such women, beautiful and highly educated, are found only in ranks of society between which and my own I have been increasing in distance—nay, building an impassable barrier, in obedience to your control. Where I stop, interdicted by the stain of trade, the successful artist is free to enter. You have stamped me plebeian—you would not share my slow progress toward a higher sphere, and you have disqualified me for attaining it alone. In your mercenary and immovable will, and in that only, lies the secret of our twofold unhappiness.

"I leave you, to return to Europe. My brother and my friends will tell you I am mad and inexcusable, and look upon you as a victim. They will say that, to have been a painter, were nothing to the career that I might mark out for my ambition, if ambition I must have, in politics. Politics in a country where distinction is a pillory! But I could not live here. It is my misfortune that my tastes are so modified by that long and compulsory exile, that life, here, would be a perpetual penance. This unmixed air of merchandise suffocates me. Our own home is tinctured black with it. You yourself, in this rural Paradise you have conjured up, move in it like a cloud. The counting-house rings in your voice, calculation draws together your brows, you look on everything as a means, and know its cost; and the calm and means-forgetting fruition, which forms the charm and dignity of superior life, is utterly unknown to you. What would be my happiness with such a wife? What would be yours with such a husband? Yet I consider the incompatibility between us as no advantage on my part—on the contrary, a punishment, and of your inflicting. What shall I be, anywhere, but a Tantalus—a fastidious ennuyé, with a thirst for the inaccessible burning in my bosom continually!

"I pray you let us avoid another meeting before my departure. Though I cannot forgive you as a lover, I can think of you with pleasure as a cousin, and I give you as your due ('damages,' the law would phrase it,) the portion of myself which you thought most important when I offered you my all. You would not take me without the fortune, but perhaps you will be content with the fortune without me. I shall immediately take steps to convey to you this property of Revedere, with an income sufficient to maintain it, and I trust soon to hear that you have found a husband better worthy of you than your cousin—

"Philip Ballister."