Page:A New England Tale.djvu/17

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A NEW-ENGLAND TALE.

from those who were wiser and much better than he was. So inconsistent are men—and women too—that they often envy a display of which they realy despise, and loudly condemn the motive.

Mrs. Elton neither deserved nor shared the dislike her husband received in full measure. On the contrary, she had the good-will of her neighbours. She never seemed elated by prosperity; and, though she occasionally appeared in an expensive Leghorn hat, a merino shawl, or a fine lace, the gentleness and humility of her manners, and the uniform benevolence of her conduct, averted the censure that would otherwise have fallen on her. She had married Mr. Elton when very young, without much consideration, and after a short acquaintance. She had to learn, in the bitter way of experience, that there was no sympathy between them; their hands were indissolubly joined, but their hearts were not related; he was 'of the earth, earthy'—she 'of the heavens, heavenly.' She had that passiveness which, we believe, is exclusively a feminine virtue, (if virtue it may be called,) and she acquiesced silently and patiently in her unhappy fate, though there was a certain abstractedness in her manner, a secret feeling of indifference and separation from the world, of which she, perhaps, never investigated, certainly never exposed the cause.

Mr. Elton's success in business had been rather owing to accidental circumstances, than to his skill or prudence; but his vanity appropriated to himself all the merit of it. He adventured rashly in