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searching inquiries by the unanswerable—as I thought—answer, that she was the daughter of a clergyman of the Church of England. This to a certain extent satisfied her scruples, nice and delicate upon such points, as she is; but I think it only candid and right to say that the conversation which took place with regard to the bishop—and my aunt has always a suspicion of the episcopal character — who examined a candidate for orders in an antichristian author, has so completely alienated my mind from the respect due to the sacred profession which you pursue, as to render it impossible, consistently with my expectations of happiness, to fulfil the engagements with Miss Wells, which, at least, by implication, I have entered into.
"It may be as well, dear Sir, to say that so far as our secular feelings are concerned, I have nothing to offer but unqualified praise of your abilities, and thanks for your unbounded hospitality; but taking higher views, for which I am sure you cannot blame me, I must beg leave, however painful the task, to decline all further
communication with your family, with reference
"Well, Gilbert," said Wells, when I had finished reading,—" now what do you think of that?"
The question was a very startling one. The letter was a most unprincipled attack, upon a ground perfectly untenable by the writer; and
when this natural conclusion is come to, there must be added the fact, that, as far as I was concerned, I was delighted at the break off—my answer, if it were to be given in a purely independent spirit, was a puzzler.
"Why"—said I, somewhat hesitatingly,— "it seems to me that this gentleman has some underground reason for backing out of what must be considered a settled engagement. He even hints at law—now that sort of husbandhunting would not be good for dear Fanny's reputation or respectability; and as for his morality or piety—the excuse is mere trash. The question in my mind is, how much Fanny will care for the loss of him, and what injury his defection will do her."
"None," said Wells,—"no injury whatever —you don't suppose that I care one farthing for what the world of Blissfold say—besides, they are not aware of the varying state of his affections—of his going off and coming on—we are not here like kings and queens, whose every-day transactions are recorded in the newspapers—he is gone—let him go—what say you, Gilbert?"
"I should say 'Ditto to Mr. Burke,'" said I—" but again I ask, what will our Fanny say?"
"Why, • Ditto to Mr. Gurney,' as I think," said Wells. "She is a straight-forward, planesailing girl—naturally enough wishing to be married—you know my principles upon that point.—Well, and as long as everything went smooth, and they were attached to each other, and all that—why, well and good—but I believe she is very much attached to me—and I believe that the mode in which he prepared for his retreat by assailing my character, has very much curdled the kindness she had all along felt towards him. The plea is ridiculous—the pretence absurb—rely upon it, Gilbert, you are right in thinking that there is more in this affair than the letter discloses or even admits. My opinion is, that as I mean of course to take no further steps to recall him, or force him into a marriage, far the best plan will be to leave his letter unanswered—to take no notice of him— but permit him to enjoy his liberty and campaigning without interruption."
"In this scheme," said I, "I perfectly agree;" and so I did, upon various grounds. I certainly thought the notion of suing such a man for a breach of promise of marriage, even if it could be brought home to him, would be —always taking Wells's principles upon matrimony into the question—ruinous to my poor sister-in-law. And as to any attempt at recalling him by fair means, I held that it would be beyond measure derogatory to the whole family, not to speak of its personal and particular annoyance to myself.
"Well then," said Wells, "shall I keep my counsel, and say nothing about the letter, but treat the fellow with silent contempt?"
"That," said I, "is the plan—he has behaved outrageously—and if you had a son, I suppose they would be opposite to each other twelve paces apart to-morrow morning; but as it is, let the thing drop—let him hear no more. Of