Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XI / The Bride of Hate: Or, The Passage of a Night >> Page 185

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Page 185

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription MYSTERY AND DOUBT. 185
lugs equally of letters and periods. IIow soon, where the hopes
and anxieties are awakened, will the boy learn to think, exam-
ine, and become analytical ! To trace the mind of the writer in
his penmanship is a frequent employment with the idly curious ;
but a deep interest led me to the same exercise. The style of
the composition was clear and strong, but it struck me as quite
too cold for the benevolent tenor which the note conveyed.
Why should one speak the language of reserve whose deeds
are the very perfection of generosity ? Why should the tones
be frigid where the sentiments are as soft as summer and sweet
as its own bird-music ? There was, to my mind, some singular
contradiction in this. I could very well understand how one,
doing, or about to do, a benevolent or generous action, should
speak of it as slightly and indifferently as possible � nay, should
avoid to speak of it at all, if to avoid it be within the nature of
the occasion ; �but this did not apply to the character of the
epistle I examined. The writer spoke freely of her friendly
purposes ; but her language to the recipient was cold and freez-
ing. If she had said nothing of what she had done and still
meditated, and had spoken to me in more elaborate tones, I
should have been better satisfied. But there was not an unne-
cessary word in the whole epistle �not one which I could fancy
put in at the moment when the current of feeling, being at its
height, forbade the reserve of prudence, or the cautious consid-
erateness of deliberate and calculating purposes. There was
evidently considerable pains taken�so my youthful judgment
inferred�in the reserved language and manner of this letter ;
and why should my benefactress, moved only in what she had
done by a high but ordinary sentiment of charity, strive to
express herself in such language to a boy ? This question led
me into newer intricacies, from which, I need scarcely add, I
did not readily extricate myself. The penmanship of the writer
did not call for a less earnest examination than the language
which she employed. It was evidently feminine in its charac-
ter, but bow masculine in its tone. The utter absence of orna-
ment was a deficiency, which struck me as forming a surprising
feature in the handwriting of a lady. She used capitals con-
stantly in beginning words as well as sentences ; but these capi-
tals exhibited the cold Gothic aspects of the Roman, rather than