Mrs. Douglas here mildly interposed, and soothed down the offended pride of the Highlanders by attributing Lady Juliana’s agitation entirely to surprise. The word operated like a charm; all were ready to admit that it was a surprising thing when heard for the first time. Miss Jacky remarked that we are all liable to be surprised; and the still more sapient Grizzy said that, indeed, it was most surprising the effect that surprise had upon some people. For her own part, she could not deny but that she was very often frightened when she was surprised.
Douglas, meanwhile, was employed in soothing the terrors, real or affected, of his delicate bride, who declared herself so exhausted with the fatigue she had undergone, and the sufferings she had endured, that she must retire for the night. Henry, eager to escape from the questions and remarks of his family, gladly availed himself of the same excuse; and, to the infinite mortification of both aunts and nieces, the ball was broken up.
“What choice to choose for delicacy best.”
OF what nature were the remarks passed in the parlour upon the new married couple has not reached the writer of these memoirs with as much exactness as the foregoing circumstances; but they may in part be imagined from the sketch already given of the characters which formed the Glenfern party. The conciliatory indulgence of Mrs. Douglas, when aided by the good-natured Miss Grizzy, doubtless had a favourable effect on the irritated pride but short-lived acrimony of the old gentleman. Certain it is that, before the evening concluded, they appeared all restored to harmony, and retired to their respective chambers in hopes of beholding a more propitious morrow.
Who has not perused sonnets, odes, and speeches in praise of that balmy blessing sleep; from the divine effusions of Shakespeare down to the drowsy notes of newspaper poets?
Yet cannot too much be said in its commendation. Sweet is its influence on the careworn eyes to tears accustomed. In its arms the statesman forgets his harassed thoughts; the weary and the poor are blessed with its charms; and conscience—even conscience—is sometimes soothed into silence, while the sufferer sleeps. But nowhere, perhaps, is its influence more happily felt than in the heart oppressed by the harassing accumulation of petty ills; like a troop of locusts, making up by their number and their stings what they want in magnitude.
Mortified pride in discovering the fallacy of our own judgment; to be ashamed of what we love, yet still to love, are feelings most unpleasant; and though they assume not the dignity of deep distress, yet philosophy has scarce any power to soothe their worrying, incessant annoyance. Douglas was glad to forget himself in sleep. He had thought a vast deal that day, and of unpleasant subjects, more than the whole of his foregoing life would have produced. If he did not curse the fair object of his imprudence, he at least cursed his own folly and himself; and these were his last waking thoughts.