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immoral,” though I never could discover that she had more than skimmed the story from any of them. Cooper she found “pretty;” Miss Sedgwick, “pretty well, only her characters are such common sort of people.” Miss Fidler wrote her own poetry, so that she had ample employment for her time while with us in the woods. It was unfortunate that she could not walk out much on account of her shoes. She was obliged to make out with diluted inspiration. The nearest approach she usually made to the study of Nature, was to sit on the wood-pile, under a girdled tree, and there, with her gold pencil in hand, and her “eyne, grey as glas,” rolled upwards, poefy by the hour. Several people, and especially one marriageable lady of a certain age, felt afraid Miss Fidler was “kind o' crazy.” And, standing marvel of Montacute, no guest at morning or night ever found the fair Eloise ungloved. Think of it ! In the very wilds to be always like a cat in nutshells, alone useless where all are so busy I do not wonder our good neighbours thought the damsel a little touched. And then her shoes “Saint * Crispin Crispianus” never had so self-sacrificing a votary. No shoemaker this side of New-York could make a sole papery enough ; no tannery out of France could produce materials for this piece of exquisite feminine foppery. Eternal imprisonment within doors, except in the warmest and driest weather, was indeed somewhat of a price to pay, but it was ungrudged. The sofa and its footstool, finery and novels, would have made a delicious world for Miss Eloise Fidler,
But, alas! “all this availeth me nothing,” has been ever the song of poor human nature. The mention of that unfortunate name includes the only real, personal, pungent distress which had as yet shaded the lot of my interesting heroine. Fidler . In the mortification adhering to so unpoetical, so unromantic, so inelegant a surname — a name irredeemable even by the highly classical elegance of the Eloise, or as the fair lady her. self pronounced it, “Elovees;” in this lay all her wo; and the grand study of her life had been to sink this hated cognomen in one more congenial to her taste. Perhaps this very anxiety had defeated itself; at any rate, here she was at I did not mean to touch on the ungrateful guess again, but at least at mateable years; neither married, nor particularly likely to be married.
Mrs. Rivers was the object of absolute envy to the pining Eloise. “Anna had been so fortunate,” she said; “Rivers was the sweetest name ! and Harley was such an elegant fellow !”
We thought poor Anna had been any thing but fortunate. She might better have been Fidler or Fiddlestring all her life than to have taken the name of aff indifferent and dissipated husband. But not so thought Miss Fidler. It was not long after the arrival of the elegant Eloise, that the Montacute Lyceum held its first meeting in Mr. Simeon Jenkins's shop, lighted by three candles, supported by candelabra of scooped potatoes; Mr. Jenkins himself sitting on the head of a barrel, as president. At first the debates of the institute were held with closed doors; but after the youthful or less practised speakers had tried their powers for a few evenings, the Lyceum was thrown open to the world every Tuesday evening, at six o'clock. The list of members was not very select as to age, character, or standing; and it soon included the entire gentility of the town, and some who scarce claimed rank else. where. The attendance of the ladies was particularly requested ; and the whole fair sex of Montacute made a point of showing occasionally the interest they undoubtedly felt in the gallant knights who tilted in this field of honour. But I must not be too diffuse — I was speaking of Miss Fidler. One evening — I hope that beginning prepares the reader for something highly interesting— one evening the question to be debated was the equally novel and striking one which regards the comparative mental capacity of the sexes; and as it was expected that some of the best speakers on both sides would be drawn out by the interesting nature of the subject, every body was anxious to attend. Among the rest was Miss Fidler, much to the surprise of her sister and myself, who had hitherto been so unfashionable as to deny ourselves this gratification. “What new whim possesses you, Eloise!” said Mrs. Rivers; “you who never go out in the day-time.” “Oh, just per passy le tong,” said the young lady, who was a great French scholar; and go she would and did. The debate was interesting to absolute breathlessness, both of speakers and hearers, and was gallantly decided in favour of the fair by a youthful member who occupied the barrel as president for the evening. He gave it as his decided opinion, that if the natural and so.
cial disadvantages under which woman laboured and must ever continue to labour, could be removed ; if their education could be entirely different, and their position in society the reverse of what it is at present, they would be very nearly, if not quite, equal to the nobler sex, in all but strength of mind, in which very useful quality it was his opinion that man would still have the advantage, especially in those communities whose energies were developed by the aid of debating societies. This decision was hailed with acclamations, and as soon as the question for the ensuing debate,” which is the more useful animal the ox or the ass!” was announced, Miss Eloise Fidler returned home to rave of the elegant young man who sat on the barrel, whom she had decided to be one of “Nature's aristocracy,” and whom she had discovered to bear the splendid appellative of Dacre. “Edward Dacre,” said she, “for I heard the rude creature Jenkins call him Ed.” The next morning witnessed another departure from Miss Fidler's usual habits. She proposed a walk; and observed that she had never yet bought an article at the store, and really felt as if she ought to purchase something. Mrs. Rivers chancing to be somewhat occupied, Miss Fidler did me the honour of a call, as she could not think of walking without a chaperon. Behind the counter at Skinner's I saw for the first time a spruce clerk, a really well-looking young man, who made his very best bow to Miss Fidler, and served us with much assiduity. The young lady's purchases occupied some time, and I was obliged gently to hint home-affairs before she could decide between two pieces of muslin, which she declared to be so nearly alike, that it was almost impossible to say which was the best. When we were at length on our return, I was closely questioned as to my knowledge of “that gentleman,” and on my observing that he seemed to be a very decent young man, Miss Fidler warmly justified him from any such opinion, and after a glowing eulogium on his firm countenance, his elegant manners and his grace as a debater, concluded by informing me, as if to cap the climax, that his name was Edward Dacre. I had thought no more of the matter for some time, though I knew Mr. Dacre had become a frequent visitor at Mr. Rivers’, when Mrs. Rivers came to me one morning with a perplexed brow, and confided to me her sisterly fears that Eloise was about to make a fool of her. self, as she had done more than once before. “My father,” she said, “hoped in this remote corner of creation Eloise might forget her nonsense and act like other people; but I verily believe she is bent upon encouraging this low fellow, whose principal charm in her bewildered eyes is his name. “His name 1” said I, “pray explain;” for I had not then learned all the boundless absurdity of this new Cherubina's fancies.” “Edward Dacre 7" said my friend, “this is what enchants my sister, who is absolutely mad on the subject of her own homely appellation.” : “Oh, is that all ?” said I, “ send her to me, then ; and I engage to dismiss her cured.” And Miss Fidler came to spend the day. We talked of all novels without exception, and all poetry of all