Backlog Studies eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.

Mandeville remembers, and I think without detriment to himself, the glimpses he had in the White Mountains once of a young lady of whom his utmost efforts could give him no further information than her name.  Chance sight of her on a passing stage or amid a group on some mountain lookout was all he ever had, and he did not even know certainly whether she was the perfect beauty and the lovely character he thought her.  He said he would have known her, however, at a great distance; there was to her form that command of which we hear so much and which turns out to be nearly all command after the “ceremony;” or perhaps it was something in the glance of her eye or the turn of her head, or very likely it was a sweet inherited reserve or hauteur that captivated him, that filled his days with the expectation of seeing her, and made him hasten to the hotel-registers in the hope that her name was there recorded.  Whatever it was, she interested him as one of the people he would like to know; and it piqued him that there was a life, rich in friendships, no doubt, in tastes, in many noblenesses, one of thousands of such, that must be absolutely nothing to him,—­nothing but a window into heaven momentarily opened and then closed.  I have myself no idea that she was a countess incognito, or that she had descended from any greater heights than those where Mandeville saw her, but I have always regretted that she went her way so mysteriously and left no glow, and that we shall wear out the remainder of our days without her society.  I have looked for her name, but always in vain, among the attendants at the rights-conventions, in the list of those good Americans presented at court, among those skeleton names that appear as the remains of beauty in the morning journals after a ball to the wandering prince, in the reports of railway collisions and steamboat explosions.  No news comes of her.  And so imperfect are our means of communication in this world that, for anything we know, she may have left it long ago by some private way.

IV

The lasting regret that we cannot know more of the bright, sincere, and genuine people of the world is increased by the fact that they are all different from each other.  Was it not Madame de Sevigne who said she had loved several different women for several different qualities?  Every real person—­for there are persons as there are fruits that have no distinguishing flavor, mere gooseberries—­has a distinct quality, and the finding it is always like the discovery of a new island to the voyager.  The physical world we shall exhaust some day, having a written description of every foot of it to which we can turn; but we shall never get the different qualities of people into a biographical dictionary, and the making acquaintance with a human being will never cease to be an exciting experiment.  We cannot even classify men so as to aid us much in our estimate of them.  The efforts in this direction are ingenious,

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Backlog Studies from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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