FIRST LOVE; OR, CONSTANCY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
The assertion that "What is everybody’s business is nobody’s," is true enough; but the assertion that "What is nobody’s business is everybody’s," is still truer. Now, a love affair, for example, is, of all others, a thing apart—an enchanted dream, where "common griefs and cares come not." It is like a matrimonial quarrel—never to be benefited by the interference of others: it is a sweet and subtle language, "that none understand but the speakers;" and yet this fine and delicate spirit is most especially the object of public curiosity. It is often supposed before it exists: it is taken for granted, commented upon, continued and ended, without the consent of the parties themselves; though a casual observer might suppose that they were the most interested in the business.
All love affairs excite the greatest possible attention; but never was so much attention bestowed as in the little town of Allerton, upon that progressing between Mr. Edward Rainsforth and Miss Emily Worthington. They had been a charming couple from their birth—were called the little lovers from their cradle; and even when Edward was sent to school, his letter home once a quarter always contained his love to his little wife. Their course of true love seemed likely to run terribly smooth, their fathers having maintained a friendship as regular as their accounts. Mr. Worthington’s death, however, when Emily was just sixteen, led to the discovery that his affairs were on the verge of bankruptcy. Mr. Rainsforth now proved himself a true friend; he said little, but did everything. Out of his own pocket he secured a small annuity to the orphan girl, placed her in a respectable family, and asked her to dine every Sunday. With his full sanction, "the little" became "the young lovers;" and the town of Allerton, for the first time in its life, had not a fault to find with the conduct of one of its own inhabitants.
The two old friends were not destined to be long parted, and a few months saw Mr. Rainsforth carried to the same churchyard whither he had so recently followed the companion of his boyhood. A year passed away, and Edward announced his intention of (pray let us use the phrase appropriated to such occasions) becoming a votary of the saffron god. The whole town was touched by his constancy, and felt itself elevated into poetry by being the scene of such disinterested affection. But, for the first time in his life, Edward found there was another will to be consulted than his own. His trustees would not hear of his marrying till he was two-and-twenty, the time that his father’s will appointed for his coming of age. The rage and despair of the lovers were only to be equalled by the rage and despair of the whole town of Allerton. Every body said that it was the cruellest thing in the world; and some went so far as to prophesy that Emily Worthington would die of a consumption before the time came of her lover’s majority. The trustees were declared to have no feeling, and the young people were universally pitied. The trustees would not abate one atom of their brief authority; they