Zanoni eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about Zanoni.

“I will tell you your thoughts, Clarence,” said Mervale, laughing, “though I am no Zanoni.  I know them by the moisture of your eyes, and the half-smile on your lips.  You are musing upon that fair perdition,—­the little singer of San Carlo.”

The little singer of San Carlo!  Glyndon coloured as he answered,—­

“Would you speak thus of her if she were my wife?”

“No! for then any contempt I might venture to feel would be for yourself.  One may dislike the duper, but it is the dupe that one despises.”

“Are you sure that I should be the dupe in such a union?  Where can I find one so lovely and so innocent,—­where one whose virtue has been tried by such temptation?  Does even a single breath of slander sully the name of Viola Pisani?”

“I know not all the gossip of Naples, and therefore cannot answer; but I know this, that in England no one would believe that a young Englishman, of good fortune and respectable birth, who marries a singer from the theatre of Naples, has not been lamentably taken in.  I would save you from a fall of position so irretrievable.  Think how many mortifications you will be subjected to; how many young men will visit at your house,—­and how many young wives will as carefully avoid it.”

“I can choose my own career, to which commonplace society is not essential.  I can owe the respect of the world to my art, and not to the accidents of birth and fortune.”

“That is, you still persist in your second folly,—­the absurd ambition of daubing canvas.  Heaven forbid I should say anything against the laudable industry of one who follows such a profession for the sake of subsistence; but with means and connections that will raise you in life, why voluntarily sink into a mere artist?  As an accomplishment in leisure moments, it is all very well in its way; but as the occupation of existence, it is a frenzy.”

“Artists have been the friends of princes.”

“Very rarely so, I fancy, in sober England.  There in the great centre of political aristocracy, what men respect is the practical, not the ideal.  Just suffer me to draw two pictures of my own.  Clarence Glyndon returns to England; he marries a lady of fortune equal to his own, of friends and parentage that advance rational ambition.  Clarence Glyndon, thus a wealthy and respectable man, of good talents, of bustling energies then concentrated, enters into practical life.  He has a house at which he can receive those whose acquaintance is both advantage and honour; he has leisure which he can devote to useful studies; his reputation, built on a solid base, grows in men’s mouths.  He attaches himself to a party; he enters political life; and new connections serve to promote his objects.  At the age of five-and-forty, what, in all probability, may Clarence Glyndon be?  Since you are ambitious I leave that question for you to decide!  Now turn to the other picture.  Clarence Glyndon returns to England with a wife who

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Zanoni from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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