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consistent is the human heart! I had beheld the loveliest women of Rome with indifference; yet, in one moment, this girl, who possessed, perhaps, in the eyes of a connoisseur, but few claims to beauty, inspired me with the most ardent passion.
"A few minutes brought us to Lauretta's cottage, and I was then reluctantly obliged to relinquish my lovely burthen. Her mother and herself loaded me with acknowledgments; and the simple, but touching manner of Lauretta, appeared to me all grace and eloquence. I returned to the villa without making known my rank to these rustics. On entering my house, I was met by my wife.
"I have just received that music, my dear lord (said she), which you wished so much for the other day; shall I now play to you ?”
"I answered yes,' without, in fact, knowing what I said; and I mechanically followed her into the saloon.
Music was always a favourite pursuit of mine, and Corinna's proficiency in the science was admired and acknowledged by the best judges. Struck by my absent and disturbed air, she tenderly inquired whether I was unwell. The question roused me from my reverie, and I replied in the affirmative, at the same time saying I would try the effect of a little rest.
"When I was alone, I reflected with wonder on the strange infatuation which had overcome my reason; but unused to combat my inclinations, I determined to possess myself of an object that appeared necessary to my peace. I did not for a moment reflect upon the injury which I meditated doing to this innocent girl; I thought only that the riches which I had it in my power to bestow, would be a sufficient compensation for her innocence. • Heaven has, I hope (cried he, raising his eyes to it), pardoned me for so base a thought.' As I wished to possess my
self of the heart, as well as the person of Lauretta, I resolved for some time to conceal from her who I was, and the next day I repeated my visit to her cottage. I need not dwell upon this part of my story. Day after day did my heart imbibe fresh poison from the soft blue eyes of the artless Lauretta ; and I could soon see that I was not indifferent to her.
"My rank still remained a secret. Now (thought I) is the time to dazzle her imagination with visions of splendour, of which she has not yet conceived an idea. Love and ambition united, must surely be too strong for the virtue of a girl, whose whole life has been spent in a cottage.' But I little knew the purity of the angel, whose mind I wished to contaminate.
"I always thought, my lord (said she, when I disclosed to her who I really was), that your rank in life must be much superior to my own, though I knew not how much, but believe me
your whole fortune could not purchase either the heart or the person of Laurettá; from this moment, my lord, we
meet no more.'
Nearly distracted at a resolution which I had not foreseen, I tried every means to make her revoke it, but in vain; and finding that neither tears nor intreaties had the power to change her purpose, I became a prey to gloom and melancholy.
"The alteration in my manners did not fail to strike my wife with equal grief and surprise; but she carefully concealed her thoughts, and not a word, not a look, upbraided me for a conduct that rent her gentle heart: our infant now became her only pleasure, and in caressing, and I fear weeping over him, she spent most of her time; but of this happiness it was the will of Heaven to deprive her. Our son was seized with a disorder which is often fatal to infants: his mother never left his bed-side, and during twenty days successively, she
wearied Heaven with prayers for his recovery, but in vain; on the twentieth day he expired, and so great was the grief of Corinna, that I thought she would have followed him to the grave.
"Her youth and naturally good constitution prevailed, at length, over the violence of her disorder, and she slowly recovered; but in losing her son, she had lost all that could render life desirable to her. The hope of touching, and at length subduing my heart was vanished, and my poor Corinna found herself an isolated and unhappy being, though surrounded by every thing that in the eye of the world constituted felicity. Some time after the death of my son, I resolved on making a last effort to subdue the resolution of Lauretta, and I wrote to her. This letter I intrusted to the care of, as I imagined, a faithful servant: in it I painted in the most glowing colours, the violence of my love and my despair; I made use of all the sophistry in which I was then but too conversant, to prevail on her to