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I AM a shy young man, with a limited
income. My residence is in the countrymy
hair is lightmy cheeks are rosymy stature
is smallmy manners are mildmy name is

How it is that professed literary gentlemen
contrive to slide as smoothly as they do,
out of one topic and into another, without the
slightest appearance of any accompanying
jerk, is a mystery to me. I want to tack on
to the information imparted in my first
paragraph, two additional facts: first, that I am
anxious to be settled in life; secondly, that
I have my eye on a young woman. But there
seems, somehow, to be a disrespectful abruptness
in mentioning the object of my attachment
in that way. It is as if I dragged her
into this page by the neck and shoulders,
instead of appearing serenely before the public
gaze, with my charmer escorted on my arm.
Her residence is in the countryher hair is
lighther cheeks are rosyher stature is
smallher manners are mild. Except that
she has no income at all, and that her name
is not Koddle, my young woman is wonderfully
like me in everything, extreme shyness
included. Under these circumstances,
it is perhaps remarkable that I should be so
fond of her as I am. I can't account for
that. But I can smooth away another little
difficulty; I can explain how it is that I
have not yet imparted the state of my affections.
I don't know how.

"Please, Miss, will you marry me?" Too
abrupt. "My other self! plunge your hand
into my bosom, extract the throbbing
principle within, observe whether it adores you or
not, and if appearances are satisfactory, keep
it for ever." Pretty, but, perhaps, at the same
time incomprehensible to a practical young
woman of the present day. Ogling? Will
ogling alone do it? Possibly; but I have not
the right kind of eyes for that exercise. My
organs of ogling are too light in colour, too
small in size, and too stiff in their action
for the purpose. Perpetual sighing? She
might mistake my intentions, and fancy that
I was only endeavouring to express to her
a wretched state of health. A sudden dart
at her in her father's presence, and an
affectionate clasping of her round the waist
under her father's astonished eyes? Could
that excellent gentleman be depended on to
start from his chair, and say, "Scoundrel, what
are your intentions?"—and could I make sure
of having presence of mind enough to drop
on my knees and reply instantly, "Dear sir,
they are strictly honourable"? I fear not;
it takes so much to get some parents out of
their chairs, and so little to upset a lover,
like me. Shall I write to her father?
Then there is the dreadful embarrassment
of the first meeting with her afterwards.
Shall I write to the charmer herself? The
same embarrassment still lies in wait for me.
I can't express it in words, or looks, or
sighs, or sudden embraces, or epistolary
correspondence. What am I to do? Again the
humiliating confession escapes me; again I
answerI don't know.

This is a serious, and, as I am inclined
to think, even a sad state of things. Here
is my future depending on my doing
somethingand I can't do it. Even if I could
find the courage to make the offer, I should
not feel certain of discovering, at the same
time, the right words in which to express
it. In this matter such awful interests
depend upon such shocking trifles. I know a
heart-rending case in point. A friend of mine,
almost as shy as I am myself, armed himself
with the resolution which I do not possess,
watched his opportunity, and started with his
offer of marriage to the object of his affection.
It was in the winter time, and he had a
cold. He advanced about six words into the
preparatory sentence; the lady was listening
with modest, yet encouraging, attention
he got to the seventh word, and felt a
sudden titillation in the upper part of his
nosehe pronounced the eighth word, and
burst irrepressibly into a shrill, raging, screaming
Sneeze! The lady (who can blame her?)
after a noble effort to preserve her self-
control, fell back in the chair in convulsions
of laughter. An offer is an essentially serious
thing; who could proceed with it under those
circumstances? Not my friend, at any rate.
He tried to begin again, two or three days
afterwards. At his first look of unutterable
love, at his first approach to the tender
topic, he saw the lady's face get red, and
the lady's lips desperately compress
themselves. The horrid explosion of the sneeze

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