In this year Lord Wellington assumed the reins in Spain; they made him Generalissimo, for their own salvation’s sake. In this year he took Badajos, he fought the field of Vittoria, he captured Pampeluna, he stormed St. Sebastian; in this year he won Salamanca.

Men of Manchester! I beg your pardon for this slight résumé of warlike facts; but it is of no consequence. Lord Wellington is for you only a decayed old gentleman now: I rather think some of you have called him a ‘dotard’ — you have taunted him with his age and the loss of his physical vigour. What fine heroes you are yourselves! Men like you have a right to trample on what is mortal in a demigod. Scoff at your ease— your scorn can never break his grand old heart.

But come, friends, whether Quakers or Cotton-printers, let us hold a Peace-Congress, and let out our venom quietly. We have been talking with unseemly zeal about bloody battles and butchering generals; we arrive now at a triumph in your line. On the 18th of June, 1812, the Orders in Council were repealed, and the blockaded ports thrown open. You know very well—such of you as are old enough to remember—you made Yorkshire and Lancashire shake with your shout on that occasion: the ringers cracked a bell in Briarfield belfry; it is dissonant to this day. The Association of Merchants and Manufacturers dined together at Stilbro’, and one and all went home in such a plight as their wives would never wish to witness more. Liverpool started and snorted like a river-horse roused amongst his reeds by thunder. Some of the American merchants felt threatenings of apoplexy, and had themselves bled: all, like wise men, at this first moment of prosperity, prepared to rush into the bowels of speculation, and to delve new difficulties, in whose depths they might lose themselves at some future day. Stocks, which had been accumulating for years, now went off in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; warehouses were lightened, ships were laden; work abounded, wages rose; the good time seemed come. These prospects might be delusive, but they were brilliant—to some they were even true. At that epoch, in that single month of June, many a solid fortune was realized.

When a whole province rejoices, the humblest of its inhabitants tastes a festal feeling: the sound of public bells rouses the most secluded abode, as if with a call to be gay. And so Caroline Helstone thought, when she dressed herself more carefully than usual on the day of this trading triumph, and went, attired in her neatest muslin, to spend the afternoon at Fieldhead, there to superintend certain millinery preparations for a great event; the last appeal in these matters being reserved for her unimpeachable taste. She decided on the wreath, the veil, the dress to be worn at the altar; she chose various robes and fashions for more ordinary occasions, without much reference to the bride’s opinion, that lady, indeed, being in a somewhat impracticable mood.

Louis had presaged difficulties, and he had found them; in fact, his mistress had shown herself exquisitely provoking, putting off her marriage day by day, week by week, month by month. At first coaxing him with soft pretences of procrastination, and in the end rousing his whole deliberate but determined nature to revolt against her tyranny, at once so sweet and so intolerable.

It had needed a sort of tempest-shock to bring her to the point; but there she was at last, fettered to a fixed day; there she lay, conquered by love, and bound with a vow.

Thus vanquished and restricted, she pined, like any other chained denizen of deserts. Her captor alone could cheer her; his society only could make amends for the lost privilege of liberty in his absence, she sat or wandered alone, spoke little, and ate less.

She furthered no preparations for her nuptials. Louis was himself obliged to direct all arrangements: he was virtually master of Fieldhead weeks before he became so nominally—the least presumptuous, the kindest master that ever was, but with his lady absolute. She abdicated without a word or a struggle. ‘Go to Mr. Moore; ask Mr. Moore,’ was her answer when applied to for orders. Never was wooer of wealthy bride so thoroughly absolved from the subaltern part, so inevitably compelled to assume a paramount character.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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