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Washington to that town. With all her majestic self-commard, she did not disguise the pleasure with which she received the special request of the managers that she would honor the occasion with her presence.
There was even a happy flutter in the playful rejoinder that “her dancing days were pretty well over, but that if her coming would contribute to the general pleasure she would attend.”
A path was opened from the foot to the top of the hall as they appeared in the doorway, and
every head was bowed in reverence.” It must have been the proudest moment of her life, but she bore herself with perfect composure then, and after her son, seating her in an armchair upon the daïs reserved for distinguished guests, faced the crowd in prideful expectancy that all his friends would seek to know his mother. She had entered the hall at eight o'clock, and for two hours held court, the most distinguished people there pressing eagerly forward to be presented to her.
From her slightly elevated position, she could, without rising, overlook the floor, and watched with quiet pleasure the dancers, among them the kingly figure of the Commander-in-Chief, who led a Fredericksburg matron through a minuet.
At ten o'clock, she signed to him to approach, and rose to take his arm, saying in her clear soft voice, “Come, George, it is time for old folks to be at home.” Smiling a good-night to all, she walked down the room, as erect in form and as steady in gait as any dancer there.
One of the French officers exclaimed aloud, as she disappeared :
“If such are the matrons of America, she may well boast of illustrious sons !”
Lafayette's report of his interview to his friends at Mt. Vernon was: “ I have seen the only Roman matron living at this day!”
AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON.
Mrs. Wilson was born at Columbus, Georgia, but early removed to Mobile, Alabama. Her first novel was
* Inez : a Tale of the Alamo,” published in 1855. She was married to Mr. L. M. Wilson of Mobile in 1868, and they had a delightful suburban home at Spring Hill. Since Mr. Wilson's death, she resides in Mobile. Ner novels, especially “St Elmo," have made a great sensation in the reading world : they evince great ability and learning. See Miss Rutherford's “American Authors.”
" St. Elmo contains a description of that marvel of oriental architecture, the Taj Mahal at Agra in India,-a marble tomb erected to perpetuate the name of Noormahal, whom Tom Moore has immortalized in his “ Lalla Rookh.” A recent traveller visiting Agra in 1891 writes that he was surprised to find a Parsee boy almost in the shadow of the Taj Mahal reading a copy of the London edition of Mrs. Wilson's Vashti.
Her style has been severely criticised as pedantic, but certainly this charge may with equal justice be brought against George Meredith, Bulwer, and George Eliot, and it is well established that Mrs. Wilson's books have in many instances stimulated her young readers to study history, mythology, and the sciences, from which she so frequently draws her illustrations." -Miss Rutherford.
A LEARNED AND INTERESTING CONVERSATION.
(From St. Elmo,*) Edna had risen to leave the room when the master of the house entered, but at his request resumed her seat and continued reading.
After searching the shelves unavailingly, he glanced over his shoulder and asked : Have
you seen my copy of De Guérin's Centaur anywhere about the house? I had it a week ago."
“I beg your pardon, sir, for causing such a fruitless search ; here is the book. I picked it up on the front steps where you were reading a few evenings since, and it opened at a passage that attracted
my attention.” She closed the volume and held it toward him, but he waved it back.
“Keep it if it interests you. I have read it once, and merely wished to refer to a particular passage. Can you guess what sentence most frequently recurs to me? read it to me.”
He drew a chair close to the hearth and lighted his cigar.
Hesitatingly Edna turned the leaves. “ I am afraid, sir, that my selection will displease you."
“I will risk it, as, notwithstanding your flattering opinion to the contrary, I am not altogether so unreasonable as to take offense at a compliance with my own request."
Still she shrank from the task he imposed, and her fingers toyed with the scarlet fuchias; but after eyeing her for a while, he leaned forward and pushed the glass bowl beyond her reach.
“Edna, I am waiting." * By permission of the author, and of the publisher, G. W. Dillingham, N. Y.
“Well, then, Mr. Murray, I should think that these two passages would impress you with peculiar force.”
Raising the book, she read with much emphasis :
“ Thou pursuest after wisdom, O Melampus ! which is the science of the will of the gods; and thou roamest from people to people, like a mortal driven by the destinies. In the times when I kept my night-watches before the caverns, I have sometimes believed that I was about to surprise the thoughts of the sleeping Cybele, and that the mother of the gods, betrayed by her dreams, would let fall some of her secrets. But I have never yet made out more than sounds which faded away in the murmur of night, or words inarticulate as the bubbling of the rivers.' Seekest thou to know the gods, O Macareus! and from what source, men, animals, and elements of the universal fire have their origin? The aged ocean, the father of all things, keeps locked within his own breast these secrets ; and the nymphs who stand around sing as they weave their eternal dance before him, to cover any sound which might escape from his lips, half opened by slumber. Mortals dear to the gods for their virtue have received from their hands lyres to give delight to man, or the seeds of new plants to make him rich, but from their inexorable lipsnothing !'
“Mr. Murray, am I correct in my conjecture?” “Quite correct," he answered, smiling grimly.
Taking the book from her hand he threw it on the table, and tossed his cigar into the grate, adding in a defiant, challenging tone :
“ The mantle of Solomon did not fall at Le Cayla on the shoulders of Maurice de Guérin. · After all he was wretched hypochondriac, and a tinge of le cahier vert doubtless crept into his eyes.”
“Do you forget, sir, that he said, When one is a wanderer, one feels that one fulfils the true condition of humanity?' and that among his last words are these, “The stream of travel is full of delight. Oh! who will set me adrift on this Nile?'"
“Pardon me if I remind you, par parenthèse, of the preliminary and courteous En garde! which should be pronounced before a thrust. De Guérin felt starved in Languedoc, and no wonder ! But had he penetrated every nook and cranny of the habitable globe, and traversed the vast zaarahs which science accords the universe, he would have died at last as hungry as Ugolino. I speak advisedly ; for the true lo gad-fly, ennui, has stung me from hemisphere to hemisphere, across tempestuous oceans, scorching deserts, and icy mountain ranges. I have faced alike the bourrans of the steppes, and the Samieli of Shamo, and the result of my vandal life is best epitomized in those grand but grim words of Bossuet : 'On trouve au fond du tout le vide et le néant!' Nineteen years ago, to satisfy my hunger, I set out to hunt the daintiest food this world could furnish, and, like other fools, have learned finally, that life is but a huge mellow golden Ösher, that mockingly sifts its bitter dust upon our eager lips. Ah! truly, on trouve au fond du tout le vide et le néant ! ”
“Mr. Murray, if you insist upon your bitter Ösher simile, why shụt your eyes to the palpable analogy suggested? Naturalists assert that the Solanum, or apple of Sodom, contains in its normal state neither dust nor ashes ; unless it is punctured by an insect, (the Tenthredo), which converts the whole of the inside into dust, leaving nothing but the rind entire, without any loss of color. Human life is as fair and tempting as the fruit of 'Ain Jidy,' till stung and poisoned by the Tenthredo of sin.”