Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XVIII: Pretty, but Pernicious Prattle >> Page 177

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Page 177

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN177
ing, he told that you spoke, and he made fun of your speech, and
spoke of you contemptuously, and called you a pitiful fellow."
"Ha! said he that?"
"That he did; and I could stand- it no longer. Then I up and gave
him a piece of my mind. And so he moved off the very next day,
and a good riddance of bad rubbish. I don't care if I never see him
again."
The love-making was all over for that day.
The facts reported by Angelica were undoubtedly facts. The con-
versation had taken place, and the language had been used, with some
exceptions, very nearly as reported. But the sup pressio yeri the
absence of those details which would have made all these facts in-
nocuous�had necessarily the full effect of the suggestio falsi. The
suggestio falsi was also there, in the narrative, but it was hardly
designed by the speaker. In her passion, at the time, when she heard
the last conversation, she had confounded "poor fellow," and "it
was a pitiable exhibition," as used by Stephen, as with merely "pitiful
fellow," and her jealousy had construed the tone of sympathy and
commiseration, with that of scorn and contempt. This was all due,
not to any deliberate purpose to misrepresent, but simply because of
her prejudice against Stephen, which, wrongheadedly, but naturally
enough, in the case of a silly creature like herself, looking on her
lover as a miracle, was impatient of the superiority apparent in the
language of the speaker, and under the influence of these blinding
prejudices, she had failed to note, in the first conversation, that
Stephen had spoken favorably of Walter's abilities, though he had
added : "I fear, from what I have seen of him, that he labors under
that `infirmity of purpose' with which Lady Macbeth reproaches her
lord; and that he will never do anything at the right moment, in the
right place, and under the right inspiration."
It was easy for the silly girl, thus blinded by her prejudices and
passions, to fall into the errors which she made, and to reverse the
truth in the whole character of her relation.*
* This is no fiction. The facts, as reported, are of real occurrence, within my own period and circle of acquaintance. The result had nearly been a duel, a l'outrance, which was, with difficulty, arrested. It required but an opportunity for explanation to put all the parties rectos in curia. The difficulties in the way of an explanation are very great usually, where a lady is in the case, it being a point of honor among gentlemen not to suffer the names of ladies to be involved in any such controversies. It may safely be presumed that one half of the murderous duels fought among men are due to just such miserable representations by silly or malicious people.