Under this delicate and powerful influence he sat more erect, and

looked out from his eyes with a glance that took note of what it rested

on. It was not so much that his expression grew more intellectual;

this, though it had its share, was not the most peculiar effect.

Neither was what we call the moral nature so forcibly awakened as to

present itself in remarkable prominence. But a certain fine temper of

being was now not brought out in full relief, but changeably and

imperfectly betrayed, of which it was the function to deal with all

beautiful and enjoyable things. In a character where it should exist

as the chief attribute, it would bestow on its possessor an exquisite


taste, and an enviable susceptibility of happiness. Beauty would be

his life; his aspirations would all tend toward it; and, allowing his

frame and physical organs to be in consonance, his own developments

would likewise be beautiful. Such a man should have nothing to do with

sorrow; nothing with strife; nothing with the martyrdom which, in an

infinite variety of shapes, awaits those who have the heart, and will,

and conscience, to fight a battle with the world. To these heroic

tempers, such martyrdom is the richest meed in the world's gift. To

the individual before us, it could only be a grief, intense in due

proportion with the severity of the infliction. He had no right to be

a martyr; and, beholding him so fit to be happy and so feeble for all

other purposes, a generous, strong, and noble spirit would, methinks,

have been ready to sacrifice what little enjoyment it might have

planned for itself,--it would have flung down the hopes, so paltry in

its regard,--if thereby the wintry blasts of our rude sphere might come

tempered to such a man.

Not to speak it harshly or scornfully, it seemed Clifford's nature to

be a Sybarite. It was perceptible, even there, in the dark old parlor,

in the inevitable polarity with which his eyes were attracted towards

the quivering play of sunbeams through the shadowy foliage. It was

seen in his appreciating notice of the vase of flowers, the scent of

which he inhaled with a zest almost peculiar to a physical organization

so refined that spiritual ingredients are moulded in with it. It was

betrayed in the unconscious smile with which he regarded Phoebe, whose

fresh and maidenly figure was both sunshine and flowers,--their

essence, in a prettier and more agreeable mode of manifestation. Not

less evident was this love and necessity for the Beautiful, in the

instinctive caution with which, even so soon, his eyes turned away from

his hostess, and wandered to any quarter rather than come back. It was

Hepzibah's misfortune,--not Clifford's fault. How could he,--so yellow

as she was, so wrinkled, so sad of mien, with that odd uncouthness of a

turban on her head, and that most perverse of scowls contorting her

brow,--how could he love to gaze at her? But, did he owe her no

affection for so much as she had silently given? He owed her nothing.

A nature like Clifford's can contract no debts of that kind. It is--we

say it without censure, nor in diminution of the claim which it

indefeasibly possesses on beings of another mould--it is always selfish

in its essence; and we must give it leave to be so, and heap up our

heroic and disinterested love upon it so much the more, without a

recompense. Poor Hepzibah knew this truth, or, at least, acted on the

instinct of it. So long estranged from what was lovely as Clifford had

been, she rejoiced--rejoiced, though with a present sigh, and a secret

purpose to shed tears in her own chamber that he had brighter objects

now before his eyes than her aged and uncomely features. They never

possessed a charm; and if they had, the canker of her grief for him

would long since have destroyed it.