Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Mellichampe: A Legend of the Santee >> Chapter VIII: Janet Berkeley >> Page 72

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Page 72

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 72 DIELLICHAMPE.
upon the crown, until it rose into a huge tower, Babel-like
and toppling. Janet was superior to any such sacrifice of good
sense and good taste, simply in compliance with a- vulgar rage.
Her long tresses, simply secured from annoyance, were left
free to wander where they would about her neck, to the marble
whiteness of which they proved an admirable foil ; while the
volume was so distributed about the head as to prevent that
uncouth exhibition of its bulk in. one quarter, which is too
much the sin of taste in- the sex generally. So admirably
did the features, the dress, and the deportment, of Janet
Berkeley blend in their proper effects together, that the dullest
sense must have felt their united force, even though the eye
might not have paused to dwell upon any one individual
beauty. Her carriage denoted a consciousness of her own
strength, which spoke forcibly in contrast with the equally
obvious feebleness of her father's spirit. Perhaps, indeed, it
was the imbecility and weakness of his which had given
strength and character to hers. It is not uncommon for the
good natural mind to exercise itself in those attributes which,
in others, they perceive inactive and wanting to their owners.
She had seen too many evil results from her father's indecision
and imbecility, not to strive sternly in the attainment of the
faculty in which he was so lamentably deficient ; and she had
not striven in vain. Though yet unenforced to open exercise
and exhibition of its strength by controlling and overcoming
dangers, the heart of Janet Berkeley was strong in her, and
would not have been unprepared for their encounter. Her
untroubled composure of glance, her equanimity of manner,
her unshrinking address, and the singular ease with which,
without tremor or hesitation, her parting lips gave way to the
utterance of the language she might deem necessary to the
occasion�were all so many proofs of that strength 9f soul
which, associated as it was with all the grace and suscepti-
bility of woman, made her a creature of moral, not less than
of physical symmetry the. very ideal of a just conception
of the noblest nature- and the gentlest sex. The deportment
of Mr. Berkeley was unconsciously elevated as he surveyed
hers : such is the influence of the pure heart and perfect char-