1. The Events Of Thirty Years
1. DECEMBER AND JANUARY, 1835-36
In the long and intricately inwrought chain of circumstance which renders worthy
of record some experiences of Cytherea Graye, Edward Springrove, and others,
the first event directly influencing the issue was a Christmas visit.
In the above-mentioned year, 1835, Ambrose Graye, a young architect who had
just begun the practice of his profession in the midland town of Hocbridge, to the
north of Christminster, went to London to spend the Christmas holidays with a
friend who lived in Bloomsbury. They had gone up to Cambridge in the same
year, and, after graduating together, Huntway, the friend, had taken orders.
Graye was handsome, frank, and gentle. He had a quality of thought which,
exercised on homeliness, was humour; on nature, picturesqueness; on
abstractions, poetry. Being, as a rule, broadcast, it was all three.
Of the wickedness of the world he was too forgetful. To discover evil in a new
friend is to most people only an additional experience: to him it was ever a
While in London he became acquainted with a retired officer in the Navy named
Bradleigh, who, with his wife and their daughter, lived in a street not far from
Russell Square. Though they were in no more than comfortable circumstances,
the captain's wife came of an ancient family whose genealogical tree was
interlaced with some of the most illustrious and well-known in the kingdom.
The young lady, their daughter, seemed to Graye by far the most beautiful and
queenly being he had ever beheld. She was about nineteen or twenty, and her
name was Cytherea. In truth she was not so very unlike country girls of that type
of beauty, except in one respect. She was perfect in her manner and bearing,
and they were not. A mere distinguishing peculiarity, by catching the eye, is often
read as the pervading characteristic, and she appeared to him no less than
perfection throughout--transcending her rural rivals in very nature. Graye did a
thing the blissfulness of which was only eclipsed by its hazardousness. He loved
her at first sight.
His introductions had led him into contact with Cytherea and her parents two or
three times on the first week of his arrival in London, and accident and a lover's
contrivance brought them together as frequently the week following. The parents
liked young Graye, and having few friends (for their equals in blood were their
superiors in position), he was received on very generous terms. His passion for
Cytherea grew not only strong, but ineffably exalted: she, without positively
encouraging him, tacitly assented to his schemes for being near her. Her father
and mother seemed to have lost all confidence in nobility of birth, without money
to give effect to its presence, and looked upon the budding consequence of the
young people's reciprocal glances with placidity, if not actual favour.
Graye's whole impassioned dream terminated in a sad and unaccountable
episode. After passing through three weeks of sweet experience, he had arrived
at the last stage--a kind of moral Gaza-- before plunging into an emotional