He shows his paces before Clarinda and tears passion to tatters in inflated prose; he poses as a stylist, a moralist, a religious enthusiast, a poet, a man of the world, and now and again accidentally he assumes the face and figure of Robert Burns.
The sum total of this correspondence allows about thirty-four letters to each year, but the actual distribution is very unequal, ranging from the minimum, in 1782, of one, a masonic letter addressed to Sir John Whitefoord of Ballochmyle, to the maximum number of ninety-two, in 1788, the great year of the Clarinda episode.
I am in rather better spirits today, though I had but an indifferent night. Care, anxiety, sat on my spirits. All the cheerfulness of this morning is the fruit of some serious, important ideas that lie, in their realities, beyond the dark and narrow house. The Father of mercies be with you, Clarinda. Every good thing attend you! I am just now come in, and have read your letters.
And when the sun was so low, and the shadows so long on the grass that the Grey Goose felt ready to run away at the sight of her own neck, little Miss Jane Johnson, and her "particular friend" Clarinda, sat under the big oak-tree on the Green, and Jane pinched Clarinda's little finger till she found that she could keep a secret, and then she told her in confidence that she had heard from Nurse and Jemima that Miss Jessamine's niece had been a very naughty girl, and that that horrid wicked officer had come for her on his black horse, and carried her right away.
Clarinda, the dear object of my fondest love; there may the most sacred inviolate honour, the most faithful kindling constancy, ever watch and animate my every thought and imagination! Did you ever meet with the following lines spoken of Religion, your darling topic?
He bustled into the back room whispered, "Hush! hush! my dear lady; the 'Domino Noir'" and bustled back again to the piano. "Of course!" said Lady Clarinda. "How stupid of me! The 'Domino Noir. And how strange that you should forget it too!" I had remembered it perfectly; but I could not trust myself to speak.
Clarinda has one famous sentence in which she bids Sylvander connect the thought of his mistress with the changing phases of the year; it was enthusiastically admired by the swain, but on the modern mind produces mild amazement and alarm.
My information would not be complete until I knew what had become of the maid. I pushed my chair back a little from the fire-place, and took a hand-screen from a table near me; it might be made useful in hiding my face, if any more disappointments were in store for me. "Thank you, Lady Clarinda; I was only a little too near the fire. I shall do admirably here. You surprise me about Mrs. Beauly.
But for Lady Clarinda he would have hopelessly misled you on the subject of Mrs. Beauly." There was no answering this, either. I was foolish enough to try to answer it, for all that. "He told me the truth so far as he knew it," I rejoined. "He really saw what he said he saw in the corridor at Gleninch." "He told you the truth," returned Mr.
Too much stress must not be laid on the style of this correspondence; Clarinda survived, not far away, and may have met the ladies on the Calton Hill; and many of the writers appear, underneath the conventions of the period, to be genuinely moved. But what unpleasantly strikes a reader is that these devout unfortunates found a revenue in their devotion.