CHAPTER VII
Withdrawal from the World 1835-1840

JOHN and Harriet continued their course of braving the opinion of the world. They went out together, they visited their common friends, John introduced Harriet to the Bullers and the Carlyles; they attended some parties together. But the circle was of neces- sity limited.

Whereas Harriet, with her natural inclination to martyrdom, gloried in thus bearing witness to her love, to John each appear- ance in public was an ordeal. He found it hard to live up to the part assigned to them by Harriet: to be of the few, the strong, the outstanding, who defy conventionality. Also, more of the gossip about them reached his ears than hers. On the other hand nothing was more precious and satisfying to Harriet than the hours that they spent alone together, while John felt a great need to balance her intenseness and her incessant discussion of their respective feel- ings and positions by the presence of others. There was a 'Satur- day plan' afoot under which W. J. Fox, the Flower sisters, and John and Harriet were to go on walking expeditions together. 'I hope we shall meet oftener,' he wrote to Fox, 'we four or rather five--as we did on Tuesday--I do not see half enough of you-- and I do not see half enough of anybody along with her--that I think is chiefly what is wanting now--that and other things like it'.

But the circle of friends whom they had in common was soon to shrink even more. Perhaps the very precariousness of her own

-68-

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