I should not. I think we should suit; and what third person is there whose presence would not spoil our pleasure?
Indeed, I know of none about our own agesno lady at least, and as to gentlemen
An excursion becomes quite a different thing when there are gentlemen of the party, interrupted Caroline.
I agree with youquite a different thing to what we were proposing.
We were going simply to see the old trees, the old ruins; to pass a day in old times, surrounded by olden silence, and above all by quietude.
You are right; and the presence of gentlemen dispels the last charm, I think. If they are of the wrong sort, like your Malones, and your young Sykes and Wynnes, irritation takes the place of serenity. If they are of the right sort, there is still a changeI can hardly tell what change, one easy to feel, difficult to describe.
We forget Nature, imprimis.
And then Nature forgets us; covers her vast calm brow with a dim veil, conceals her face, and withdraws the peaceful joy with which, if we had been content to worship her only, she would have filled our hearts.
What does she give us instead?
More elation and more anxiety; an excitement that steals the hours away fast, and a trouble that ruffles their course.
Our power of being happy lies a good deal in ourselves, I believe, remarked Caroline sagely. I have gone to Nunnwood with a large party, all the curates and some other gentry of these parts, together with sundry ladies; and I found the affair insufferably tedious and absurd: and I have gone quite alone, or accompanied but by Fanny, who sat in the woodmans hut and sewed, or talked to the goodwife, while I roamed about and made sketches, or read; and I have enjoyed much happiness of a quiet kind all day long. But that was when I was youngtwo years ago.
Did you ever go with your cousin, Robert Moore?
What sort of a companion is he on these occasions?
A cousin, you know, is different to a stranger.
I am aware of that; but cousins, if they are stupid, are still more insupportable than strangers, because you cannot so easily keep them at a distance. But your cousin is not stupid?
If the company of fools irritates, as you say, the society of clever men leaves its own peculiar pain also. Where the goodness or talent of your friend is beyond and above all doubt, your own worthiness to be his associate often becomes a matter of question.
Oh! there I cannot follow you; that crotchet is not one I should choose to entertain for an instant. I consider myself not unworthy to be the associate of the best of themof gentlemen, I mean; though that is saying a great deal. Where they are good they are very good, I believe. Your uncle, by-the-by, is not a bad
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