Thus Jaffrey Pyncheon's inward criminality, as regarded Clifford, was,

indeed, black and damnable; while its mere outward show and positive

commission was the smallest that could possibly consist with so great a

sin. This is just the sort of guilt that a man of eminent

respectability finds it easiest to dispose of. It was suffered to fade

out of sight or be reckoned a venial matter, in the Honorable Judge

Pyncheon's long subsequent survey of his own life. He shuffled it

aside, among the forgotten and forgiven frailties of his youth, and

seldom thought of it again.

We leave the Judge to his repose. He could not be styled fortunate at


the hour of death. Unknowingly, he was a childless man, while striving

to add more wealth to his only child's inheritance. Hardly a week

after his decease, one of the Cunard steamers brought intelligence of

the death, by cholera, of Judge Pyncheon's son, just at the point of

embarkation for his native land. By this misfortune Clifford became

rich; so did Hepzibah; so did our little village maiden, and, through

her, that sworn foe of wealth and all manner of conservatism,--the wild


It was now far too late in Clifford's life for the good opinion of

society to be worth the trouble and anguish of a formal vindication.

What he needed was the love of a very few; not the admiration, or even

the respect, of the unknown many. The latter might probably have been

won for him, had those on whom the guardianship of his welfare had

fallen deemed it advisable to expose Clifford to a miserable

resuscitation of past ideas, when the condition of whatever comfort he

might expect lay in the calm of forgetfulness. After such wrong as he

had suffered, there is no reparation. The pitiable mockery of it,

which the world might have been ready enough to offer, coming so long

after the agony had done its utmost work, would have been fit only to

provoke bitterer laughter than poor Clifford was ever capable of. It

is a truth (and it would be a very sad one but for the higher hopes

which it suggests) that no great mistake, whether acted or endured, in

our mortal sphere, is ever really set right. Time, the continual

vicissitude of circumstances, and the invariable inopportunity of

death, render it impossible. If, after long lapse of years, the right

seems to be in our power, we find no niche to set it in. The better

remedy is for the sufferer to pass on, and leave what he once thought

his irreparable ruin far behind him.

The shock of Judge Pyncheon's death had a permanently invigorating and

ultimately beneficial effect on Clifford. That strong and ponderous

man had been Clifford's nightmare. There was no free breath to be

drawn, within the sphere of so malevolent an influence. The first

effect of freedom, as we have witnessed in Clifford's aimless flight,

was a tremulous exhilaration. Subsiding from it, he did not sink into

his former intellectual apathy. He never, it is true, attained to

nearly the full measure of what might have been his faculties. But he

recovered enough of them partially to light up his character, to

display some outline of the marvellous grace that was abortive in it,

and to make him the object of no less deep, although less melancholy

interest than heretofore. He was evidently happy. Could we pause to

give another picture of his daily life, with all the appliances now at

command to gratify his instinct for the Beautiful, the garden scenes,

that seemed so sweet to him, would look mean and trivial in comparison.