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gotten this letter from my father, which you can read later at your leisure.”
When opened, in due time, Sir Charles's missive was found to contain, besides many kind and truly paternal congratulations, the information that, with Edward's full assent, an annuity of three hundred pounds a-year was settled upon the future Lady St. Edmunds.
“But Lady Helen,” whispered Cécile, not without a slight tremor, as Constance and her uncle were retiring, "will she ever see me again ?"
“Oh! certainly, dear, as often as you like," answered Conny. “It is all right again now, though, perhaps, at first, she was a little disappointed, to be sure—but mostly, be it whispered, through her own fault. Don't you agree, Uncle Tewkesbury ?”
“Yes; Helen neglected a great truth. In singling you out as a victim, Cécile, she impassioned, in your behalf, the sympathies of the indifferent and of the impartial. She had forgotten that, if religious persecution is impossible to all now, religious vexation equally defeats its own end. We are free, I firmly believe, widely to differ from you, but we may
not revile you with impunity. You are too illustrious in history, too great in civilized Europe, too important, as yet at least, in Christendom.
We have concluded with Lord Tewkesbury's concluding observation, because it embodies the humble moral of our homely narrative. Having now ascertained who the Pervert is, we have only to add, that his marriage with the fair Saint has actually taken place. The ceremony was performed by Cardinal Wiseman himself, and having been among the guests, we were happy to see that his Eminence was in excellent health, as one should look who has certainly entered upon a somewhat arduous undertaking.
Our tale being now truly and duly ended, we must proceed to the Dedication.
We may not inscribe it to you, dear Lady Wickliffestown. You are convinced that it is written by the Jesuits, perhaps by Cardinal
Wiseman himself—to aid in the perversion of Protestant England, nor would anything which we could say alter your impression on that
Neither may we place it under your invocation, dear Lady East-Oriel. You are persuaded that our object is to cast ridicule upon many recent conversions, by the selection of our Pervert - à charge, we must say, fully as unfounded as the former; for we can assure you that in the whole Household Brigade, there are very few young men, if any, more deeply read than our hero.
Gladly, in this perplexity, would we dedicate the little work to the people of England at large, our own indulgent task-master. But as this exalted and ubiquitous personage might then deem that we have intended some indirect and disguised reflections upon his recent excitement, which would be very impertinent indeed, and very ungrateful too on our part, we decidedly had better take no liberties with the still growling Lion, and look elsewhere.
Who then shall be our patron, for surely none ever so sorely required one? Truly, it
shall be Mr. Colburn himself, the modern Mæcenas, who so munificently encouraged our earlier efforts in the imaginative line. We have heard that, in an ill-advised hour, he pronounced “ Love and Ambition" to be a failure, a heresy which all must esteem well worthy of being handed over to the persecution of Cardinal Wiseman. He still affirms, we believe, that the British Public never open a work of fiction, except it be presumed to contain what may be equally found in real and every-day life. They may therefore be inclined to look into one which touches upon a subject that certainly has had, and still has, its due share of their consideration. And if, in this hope, we have been so imprudent as to re-enact, despite the experience of ages, the desperate part of Hersilia, at least have we thrust foremost into the perilous adventure one as fair and as gentle as herself.