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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGodolphin - Chapter 10. The Education Of Constance's Mind
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Godolphin - Chapter 10. The Education Of Constance's Mind Post by :affiliates9 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2551

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Godolphin - Chapter 10. The Education Of Constance's Mind

CHAPTER X. THE EDUCATION OF CONSTANCE'S MIND


Meanwhile, Constance Vernon grew up in womanhood and beauty. All around her contributed to feed that stern remembrance which her father's dying words had bequeathed. Naturally proud, quick, susceptible, she felt slights, often merely incidental, with a deep and brooding resentment. The forlorn and dependent girl could not, indeed, fail to meet with many bitter proofs that her situation was not forgotten by a world in which prosperity and station are the cardinal virtues. Many a loud whisper, many an intentional "aside," reached her haughty ear, and coloured her pale cheek. Such accidents increased her early-formed asperity of thought; chilled the gushing flood of her young affections; and sharpened, with a relentless edge, her bitter and caustic hatred to a society she deemed at once insolent and worthless. To a taste intuitively fine and noble the essential vulgarities--the fierceness to-day, the cringing to-morrow; the veneration for power; the indifference to virtue, which characterised the framers and rulers of "society"--could not but bring contempt as well as anger; and amidst the brilliant circles, to which so many aspirers looked up with hopeless ambition, Constance moved only to ridicule, to loathe, to despise.

So strong, so constantly nourished, was this sentiment of contempt, that it lasted with equal bitterness when Constance afterwards became the queen and presider over that great world in which she now shone--to dazzle, but not to rule. What at first might have seemed an exaggerated and insane prayer on the part of her father, grew, as her experience ripened, a natural and laudable command. She was thrown entirely with that party amongst whom were his early friends and his late deserters. She resolved to humble the crested arrogance around her, as much from her own desire, as from the wish to obey and avenge her father. From contempt for rank rose naturally the ambition of rank. The young beauty resolved, to banish love from her heart; to devote herself to one aim and object; to win title and station, that she might be able to give power and permanence to her disdain of those qualities in others; and in the secrecy of night she repeated the vow which had consoled her father's death-bed, and solemnly resolved to crush love within her heart and marry solely for station and for power.

As the daughter of so celebrated a politician, it was natural that Constance should take interest in politics. She lent to every discussion of state events an eager and thirsty ear. She embraced with masculine ardour such sentiments as were then considered the extreme of liberality; and she looked on that career which society limits to man, as the noblest, the loftiest in the world. She regretted that she was a woman, and prevented from personally carrying into effect the sentiments she passionately espoused. Meanwhile, she did not neglect, nor suffer to rust, the bright weapon of a wit which embodied at times all the biting energies of her contempt. To insolence she retorted sarcasm; and, early able to see that society, like virtue, must be trampled upon in order to yield forth its incense, she rose into respect by the hauteur of her manner, the bluntness of her satire, the independence of her mind, far more than by her various accomplishments and her unrivalled beauty.

Of Lady Erpingham she had nothing to complain; kind, easy, and characterless, her protectress sometimes wounded her by carelessness, but never through design; on the contrary, the Countess at once loved and admired her, and was as anxious that her protegee should form a brilliant alliance as if she had been her own daughter. Constance, therefore, loved Lady Erpingham with sincere and earnest warmth, and endeavoured to forget all the commonplaces and littlenesses which made up the mind of her protectress, and which, otherwise, would have been precisely of that nature to which one like Constance would have been the least indulgent.

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