| indice letture JA | home page |
THE HISTORY OF
Volume III - Letter 11
MR. DEANE TO MRS. SELBY.
London, Friday Night, Mar. 17.
You wished me, my dear Mrs. Selby, as I was obliged to go to London on my own affairs, to call at Colnebrooke, and to give you my observations on the state of matters there; and whether there were any likelihood of the event we are all so desirous should be brought about; and particularly, if an opportunity offered, that I would at distance sound Sir Charles himself on the subject. I told you, that you need not be afraid of my regard to our dear child's delicacy; and that she herself should not have reason to mistrust me on this nice subject.
It seems his great engagements in town, and some he has had in Kent, have hindered him from giving Lord L. and his sisters much of his company, tho' our Harriet is there; which they all extremely regret.
I dined at Colnebroke. Lord L. is a very worthy and agreeable man. Lady L. and Miss Grandison are charming women. Miss Jervois is a pretty young Lady.—But more of her by-and-by.—The cousin Grandison you spoke of, is gone down to Grandison-hall: whither Sir Charles himself thinks shortly of going—But this and other distant matters I refer to our Harriet's own account.
My visit to Sir Charles is most in my head, and I will mention that, and give place to other observations afterwards.
After dinner I pursued my journey to London. As my own business was likely to engage me for the whole time I had to stay in town, I alighted at his house in St. James's Square; and was immediately, on sending in my name, introduced to him.
Let me stop to say, He is indeed a very fine gentleman. Majesty and sweetness are mingled in every feature of his face; and the latter, rather than the former, predominates in his whole behaviour. Well may Harriet love him.
I told him, that I hoped, on my coming to town on particular affairs, he would excuse the intrusion of a man who was personally a stranger to him; but who had long wished for an opportunity to thank him for the relief he had given to a young lady in whom I claimed an interest that was truly paternal. At the same time I congratulated him on the noble manner in which he had extricated himself, to the confusion of men, whom he had taught to find out, and to be ashamed, that they were savages.
He received my compliments as a man might be supposed to do, to whom praise is not a new thing; and made me very handsome ones, declaring himself acquainted with my character, with my connections with your family, and with one of the most excellent of young Ladies. This naturally introduced the praises of our Harriet; in which he joined in so high and so just a strain, that I saw his heart was touched. I am sure it is: So set yours at rest. It must do. Everything is moving, and that not slowly, to the event so desirable. I led to the graces of her person; he to those of her mind. He allowed her to be, for both, one of the most perfect beauties he had ever seen. In short, Mrs. Selby, I am convinced, that the important affair will ripen of itself. His sisters, Lord L. Dr. Bartlett, all avowedly in our lovely girl's favour, and her merit so extraordinary; it must do. Don't you remember what the old song says?
When Phoebus does his beams display,
To tell men gravely, that 'tis day,
Is, to suppose them blind.
All I want, methinks, is, to have them oftener together. Idleness, I believe, is a great friend to Love. I wish his affairs would let him be a little idle. They must be dispatched soon, be they what they will; for Lord L. said, that when he is master of a subject, his execution is as swift as thought, Sir Charles hinted, that he should soon be obliged to go to France. Seas are nothing to him. Dr. Bartlett said, that he considers all nations as joined on the same continent; and doubted not but if he had a call, he would undertake a journey to Constantinople or Pekin, with as little difficulty as some others would (he might have named me for one) to the Land's-end. Indeed he appears to be just that kind of man. Yet he seems not to have any of that sort of fire in his constitution, that goes off with a bounce, and leaves nothing but vapour and smoke behind it.
You are in doubt about our girl's fortune. It is not a despicable one. He may, no question, have a woman with a much greater; and so may she a man.—What say you to Lady D's proposal, rejected for his sake; at hap-hazard too, as the saying is? But let it once come to that question, and leave it to me to answer it.
You bid me remark how Harriet looks. She is as lovely as ever; but I think, not quite so lively, and somewhat paler; but it is a clear and healthy, not a sickly paleness: And there is a languor in her fine eyes, that I never saw in them before. She never was a pert girl; but she has more meekness and humility in her countenance, than, methinks, I would wish her to have; because it gives to Miss Grandison, who has fine spirits, some advantages, in conversation, over Harriet, that, if she had, methinks she should not take. But they perfectly understand one another.
But now for a word or two about Miss Jervois. I could not but take notice to our Miss Byron, of the greediness, with which she eats and drinks the praises given her guardian; of the glow that overspreads her cheeks, and of a sigh that now-and-then seems to escape even her own observation, when he is spoken of; so like a niece of mine, that drew herself in, and was afterwards unhappy; and by these symptoms I conclude, that this young creature is certainly giving way to Love. She has a very great fortune, is a pretty girl, and an improving beauty. She is tall and womanly. I thought her sixteen or seventeen; but, it seems, she is hardly fourteen. There is as much difference in girls, as in fruits, as to their maturing, as I may say. My mother, I remember, once said of an early bloom in a niece of her's, that such were born to woe. I hope it won't be so with this; for she certainly is a good young creature, but has not had great opportunities of knowing either the world or herself. Brought up in a confined manner in her father's house at Leghorn, till twelve or thirteen; what opportunities could she have? No mother's wings to be sheltered under; Her mother's wickedness giving occasion the more to straighten her education, and at a time of life so young, and in so restraining a country as Italy, for girls and young maidens; and, since brought over, put to board with a retired country gentlewoman—What can she know, poor thing? She has been but a little while with Miss Grandison, and that but as a guest: So that the world before her is all new to her: And, indeed, there seems to be in her pretty wonder, and honest declarations of her whole heart, a simplicity that sometimes borders upon childishness, tho' at other times a kind of womanly prudence. I am not afraid of her on our Harriet's account; and yet Harriet (Lover-like, perhaps!) was alarmed at my hinting it to her: But I am on her own. I wish, as I said before, Sir Charles were more among them: He would soon discover whose Love is fit to be discountenanced, and whose to be encouraged; and, by that means, give ease to twenty hearts. For I cannot believe that such a man as this would be guilty (I will call it) of reserve to such a young Lady as ours, were he but to have the shadow of a thought that he has an interest in her heart.
My affairs are more untoward than I expected: But on my return to Peterborough I will call at Shirley-house and Selby-manor—and then (as I hope to see Sir Charles again, either in London, or at Colnebrooke) I will talk to you of all these matters. Mean time, believe me to be
Your affectionate and faithful humble Servant,
LA STORIA DI
Volume III - lettera 11
Volume III - Letter 12
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Monday, March 20.
After we had taken leave of one another for the night, I tapped at Emily's chamber-door; which being immediately opened by her maid, Is it you, my dear Miss Byron? said she, running to me. How good this is!
I am come, my dear, late as it is, to pass an agreeable half-hour with you, if it will not be unseasonable.
That it can never be.
You must then let your Anne go to bed, said I: Else as her time is not her own, I shall shorten my visit. I will assist you in any little services myself. I have dismissed Jenny.
God bless you, madam, said she. You consider every-body. Anne tells me, that the servants, throughout the house, adore you: And I am sure their principals do.—Anne, you may go to your rest.
Jenny, who attends me here, has more than once hinted to me, that Miss Jervois loves to sit up late, either reading, or being read to, by Anne; who, tho' she reads well, is not fond of the task.
Servants, said I, are as sensible as their masters and mistresses. They speak to their feelings. I question not but they love Miss Jervois as well as they do me. I should as soon choose to take my measures of the goodness of principals by their servants love of them, as by any other rule. Don't you see, by the silent veneration and assiduities of the servants of Sir Charles Grandison, how much they adore their master?
I am very fond of being esteemed by servants, said she, from that very observation of my guardian's goodness, and his servants worthiness, as well as from what my maid tells me, all of them say of you. But you and my guardian are so much alike in every thing, that you seem to be born for one another.
And then she sighed, involuntarily; yet seemed not to endeavour to restrain or recall her sigh.
Why sighs my dear young friend? Why sighs my Emily?
That's good of you, to call me your Emily. My guardian calls me his Emily. I am always proud when he calls me so—I don't know why I sigh: But I have lately got a trick of sighing, I think. Will it do me harm? Anne tells me, it will; and says, I must break myself of it. She says, is is not pretty in a young Lady to sigh: But where is the un-prettiness of it?
Sighing is said to be a sign of being in Love; and young Ladies—
Ah! madam! And yet you sigh, very often—
I felt myself blush.
I often catch myself sighing, my dear, said I. It is a trick, as you call it, which I would not have you learn.
But I have reason for sighing, madam; which you have not—Such a mother! A mother that I wanted to be good, not so much to me, as to herself: A mother so unhappy, that one must be glad to run away from her. My poor papa! so good as he was to every body, and even to her, yet had his heart broken—O madam!—(flinging her arms about me, and hiding her face in my bosom) Have I not cause to sigh?
I wept on her neck; I could not help it: So dutifully sensible of her calamity! and for such a calamity, who could forbear?
Such a disgrace too! said she, raising her head. Poor woman!—Yet she has the worst of it. Do you think that that is not enough to make one sigh?
Amiable goodness! (kissing her cheek) I shall love you too well.
You are too good to me: You must not be so good to me: That, even that, will make me sigh. My guardian's goodness to me gives me pain; and I think verily, I sigh more since last I left Mrs. Lane, and have seen more of his goodness, and how every-body admires, and owns obligation to him, than I did before.—To have a stranger, as one may say, and so very fine a gentleman, to be so good to one, and to have such an unhappy mother—who gives him so much trouble—how can one help sighing for both reasons?
Dear girl! said I, my heart overflowing with compassion for her, you and I are bound equally, by the tie of gratitude, to esteem him.
Ah, madam! you will one day be the happiest of all women—And so you deserve to be.
What means my Emily?
Don't I see, don't I hear, what is designed to be brought about by Lord and Lady L. and Miss Grandison? And don't I hear from my Anne, what every body expects and wishes for?
And does every-body expect and wish, my Emily—
I stopped. She went on.—And don't I see that my guardian himself loves you?
Do you think so, Emily?
O how he dwells upon your words, when you speak!
You fancy so, my dear.
You have not observed his eyes so much as I have done, when he is in your company. I have watched your eyes, too; but have not seen that you mind him quite so much as he does you.—Indeed he loves you dearly.—And then she sighed again.
But why that sigh, my Emily?—Were I so happy as you think, in the esteem of this good man, would you envy me, my dear?
Envy you!—I, such a simple girl as I, envy you! No, indeed. Why should I envy you?—But tell me now; dear madam, tell me; Don't you love my guardian?
Every body does. You, my Emily, love him.
And so I do: But you love him, madam, with a hope that no one else will have reason to entertain—Dear now, place a little confidence in your Emily: My guardian shall never know it from me, by the least hint. I beg you will own it. You can't think how you will oblige me. Your confidence in me will give me importance with myself.
Will you, Emily, be as frank-hearted with me, as you would have me be with you?
Indeed I will.
I do, my dear, greatly esteem your guardian.
Esteem! Is that the word? Is that the Ladies word for Love? And is not the word Love, a pretty word for women? I mean no harm by it, I am sure.
And I am sure you cannot mean harm: I will be sincere with my Emily. But you must not let any one living know what I say to you of this nature. I would prefer your guardian, my dear, to a king, in all his glory.
And so, madam, would I, if I were you. I should be glad to be thought like you in every-thing.
Amiable innocence! But tell me, Miss Jervois, Would you not have me esteem your guardian? You know he was my guardian too, and that at an exigence when I most wanted one.
Indeed I would. Would you have me wish such a good young Lady, as Miss Byron, to be ungrateful? No, indeed.—And again she sighed.
Why then sighed my Emily? You said you would be frank-hearted.
So I will, madam. But I really can't tell why I sighed then. I wish my guardian to be the happiest man in the world: I wish you, madam, to be the happiest woman: And how can either be so, but in one another?—But I am grieved, I believe, that there seems to be something in the way of your mutual happiness—I don't know whether that is all, neither—I don't know what it is—If I did, I would tell you—But I have such throbs sometimes at my heart, as make me fetch my breath hard—I don't know what it is—Such a weight here, as makes me sigh; and I have a pleasure, I think, because I have an ease in sighing—What can it be?—
Go on, my dear: You are a pretty describer.
Why now, if any-body, as Anne did last time my guardian came hither, was to run up stairs, in an hurry; and to say, Miss, Miss, Miss, your guardian is come! I should be in such a flutter! my heart would seem to be too big for my bosom! I should sit down as much out of breath, as if I had ran down an high hill.—And, for half an hour, may be, so tremble, that I should not be able to see the dear guardian that perhaps I had wanted to see. And to hear him with a voice of gentleness, as if he pitied me for having so unhappy a mother, call me his Emily.—Don't you think he has a sweet voice?—And your voice, too, madam, is also so sweet—Every-body says, that even in your common speech your voice is melody.—Now Anne says—
O my agreeable little flatterer!
I don't flatter, madam. Don't call me a flatterer. I am a very sincere girl: Indeed I am.
I dare say you are: But you raise my vanity, my dear. It is not your fault to tell me what people say of me; but it is mine to be proud of their commendations—But you were going to tell me what Anne says, on your being so much affected, when she tolls you in an hurry that your guardian is come?
Why Anne says, That all those are signs of Love. Foolish creature!—And yet so they may: But not of such Love as she means.—Such a Love as she as good as owns she had in her days of flutteration, as she whimsically calls them; which, as she explains it, were when she was two or three years older than I am. In the first place, I am very young, you know, madam; a mere girl: And such a simple thing!—I never had a mother, nor sister neither; nor a companion of my own sex.—Mrs. Lane's daughters, what were they?—They looked upon me as a child as I was. In the next place, I do love my guardian, that's true: but with as much reverence, as if he were my father. I never had a thought that had not that deep, that profound reverence for him, as I remember I had for my father.
But you had not, my dear, any of those flutters, those throbs, that you spoke of, on any returns of your father, after little absences?
Why, no; I can't say I had. Nor, tho' I always rejoiced when my guardian came to see me at Mrs. Lane's, had I, as I remember, any such violent emotions, as I have had now of late. I don't know how it is—Can you tell me?
Do you not, Lucy, both love and pity this sweet girl?
My dear Emily!—These are symptoms, I doubt—
Symptoms of what, madam?—Pray tell me sincerely. I will not hide a thought of my heart from you.
If encouraged, my dear—
What then, madam?—
It would be Love, I doubt.—That sort of Love that would make you uneasy—
No; that cannot be surely. Why, madam, at that rate, I should never dare to stand in your presence. Upon my word, I wish no one in the world, but you, to be Lady Grandison. I have but one fear—
And what is that?
That my guardian won't love me so well, when he marries, as he does now.
Are you afraid that the woman he marries will endeavour to narrow so large an heart as his?
No; not if that woman were you.—But, forgive my folly! (and she looked down) he would not take my hand so kindly as now he does: He would not look in my face with pleasure, and with pity on my mother's account, as he does now: He would not call me his Emily: He would not bespeak ever one's regard for his ward.
My dear, you are now almost a woman. He will, if he remain a single man, soon draw back into his heart that kindness and love for you, which, while you are a girl, he suffers to dwell upon his lips. You must expect this change of behaviour soon, from his prudence. You yourself, my love, will set him the example: You will grow more reserved in your outward behaviour, than hitherto there was reason to be—
O, madam! never tell me that! I should break my heart, were I twenty, and he did not treat me with the tenderness that he has always treated me with. If, indeed, he find me an encroacher; if he find me forward, and indiscreet, and troublesome; then let him call me any-body's Emily, rather than his.
You will have different notions, my dear, before that time—
Then, I think, I sha'n't desire to live to see the time. Why, madam, all the comfort I have to set against my unhappiness from my mother, is, that so good, so virtuous, and so prudent a man as Sir Charles Grandison, calls me his Emily, and loves me as his child. Would you, madam, were you Lady Grandison (now, tell me, would you) grudge me these instances of his favour and affection?
Indeed, my dear, I would not: If I know my own heart, I would not.
And would you permit me to live with you?—Now it is out—Will you permit me to live with my guardian and you?—This is a question I wanted to put to you; but was both ashamed and afraid, till you thus kindly emboldened me.
Indeed I would, if your guardian had no objection.
That don't satisfy me, madam. Would you be my earnest, my sincere advocate, and plead for me? He would not deny you any-thing. And would you (come, madam, I will put you to it—Would you) say, 'Look you here, Sir Charles Grandison; This girl, this Emily, is a good sort of girl: She has a great fortune. Snares may be laid for her: She has no papa but you: She has, poor thing! (I hope you would call me by names of pity to move him) no mamma; or is more unhappy than if she had none. Where can you dispose of her so properly as to let her be with us? I will be her protectress, her friend, her mamma;' [Yes, do, madam, let me choose a mamma! Don't let the poor girl be without a mamma, if you can give her one. I am sure I will study to give you pleasure, and not pain]—'I insist upon it, Sir Charles. It will make the poor girl's heart easy. She is told of the arts and tricks of men where girls have great fortunes: and she is always in dread about them, and about her unhappy mother. Who will form plots against her, if she is with us?'—Dear, dear madam! you are moved in my favour—Who could have forborne being affected by her tender prattle? and she threw her arms about me; I see you are moved in my favour!—And I will be your attendant: I will be your waiting-maid: I will help to adorn you, and to make you more and more lovely in the eyes of my guardian.
I could not bear this—No more, no more, my lovely girl, my innocent, my generous, my irresistible girl—Were it come to that [It became me to be unreserved, for more reasons than one, to this sweet child]—Not one request should my Emily make, that heart and mind I would not comply with: Not one wish that I would not endeavour to promote and accomplish for her.
I folded her to my heart, as she hung about my neck.
I grieve you—I would not, for the world, grieve my young mamma, said she—Henceforth let me call you my mamma.—Mamma, as I have heard the word explained, is a more tender name even than mother —The unhappy Mrs. Jervois shall be Mrs. O’Hara, if she pleases; and only mother: A child must not renounce her mother, tho' the mother should renounce, or worse than renounce, her child.
I must leave you, Emily.
Say then my Emily.
I must leave you my, and more than my Emily.—You have cured me of sleepiness for this night!
O then I am sorry—
No; don't be sorry. You have given me pain, 'tis true; but I think it is the sweetest pain that ever entered into an human heart. Such goodness! such innocence! such generosity!—I thank God, my love, that there is in my knowledge so worthy a young heart as yours.
Now, how good this is! (and again she wrapped her arms about me) And will you go?
I must, I must, my dear!—I can stay no longer.—But take this assurance, that my Emily shall have a first place in my heart for ever. I will study to promote your happiness; and your wishes shall be the leaders of mine.
Then I am sure I shall live with my guardian and you for ever, as I may say: And God grant, and down on her knees she dropped, with her arms wrapped about mine, that you may be the happiest of women, and that soon, for my sake, as well as your own, in marriage with the best of men—my guardian! (exultingly, said she): And say, Amen—Do, God bless you, madam, say Amen to my prayer.
I struggled from her.—O my sweet girl! I cannot bear you!—I hastened out at the door, to go to my chamber.
You are not angry, madam? following me, and taking my hand, and kissing it with eagerness. Say you are not displeased with me. I will not leave you till you do.
Angry! my love! Who can be angry? How you have distressed me, by your sweet goodness of heart?
Thank God, I have not offended you. And now say, once more, my Emily—Say, Good rest to you, my Emily—my love—and all those tender names—and say, God bless you, my child, as if you were my mamma; and I will leave you, and I shall in fancy go to sleep with Angels.
Angels, only, are fit company for my Emily—God bless my Emily! Good night! Be your slumbers happy!
And I kissed her once, twice, thrice, with fervour; and away she tripped; but stopped at the door, curtsying low, as I, delighted, yet painfully delighted, looked after her.
Ruminating, in my retirement, on all the dear girl had said, and on what might be my fate; so many different thoughts came into my head, that I could not close my eyes: I therefore arose before day; and, while my thoughts were agitated with the affecting subject, had recourse to my pen.
Do, my Lucy, and do you, my grandmamma, my aunt, my uncle, more than give me leave, bid me, command me, if it shall be proposed, to bring down with me my Emily: And yet she shall not come, if you don't all promise to love her as well as you do
Your for ever obliged
Volume III - lettera 12
Volume III - Letter 13
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Monday, Mar. 20.
The active, the restless goodness, of this Sir Charles Grandison, absolutely dazzles me, Lucy!
The good Dr. Bartlett has obliged us all with the sight of two letters, which give an account of what he has done for Lord W. his uncle. He has been more than a father to his uncle: Does not that sound strange? But he is to be the obliger of every-body.
The Doctor said, that since Miss Grandison had claimed the benefit of her brother's permission for him to use his own discretion in communicating to us such of the letters as he was favoured with by Sir Charles, he believed he could not more unexceptionably oblige Lord L. and the sisters, than by reading to them those two letters, as they were a kind of family subject.
After the Doctor had done reading, he withdrew to his closet. I stole up after him, and obtained his leave to transmit them to you.
Lucy, be careful of them, and return them when perused.
There is no such thing as pointing out particular passages of generosity, justice, prudence, disinterestedness, beneficence, that strike one in those letters, without transcribing every paragraph in them. And, ah Lucy! there are other observations to be made; mortifying ones, I fear.
Only let me say, That I think, if Sir Charles Grandison could and would tender himself to my acceptance, I ought to decline his hand. Do you think, if I were his, I should not live in continual dread of a separation from him, even by that inevitable stroke which, alone, could be the means of completing his existence?
This is the man, ye modest, ye tender-hearted fair ones, whom ye should seek to entitle to your vows: Not the lewd, the obscene libertine, soul Harpy, son of Riot, and of Erebus; glorying in his wickedness, triumphing in your weakness, and seeking by storm to win an heart that ought to shrink at his approach. Shall not Like cleave to Like? —Henceforth may it be so, wishes
Your HARRIET BYRON.
Volume III - lettera 13
Volume III - Letter 14
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO DR. BARTLETT.
Sat. Night, Mar. 18.
As soon as I had seen Mrs. Jervois to her chair, I went to attend Lord W.
He received me with great expressions of esteem and affection.
He commanded his attendants to withdraw, and told me, taking my hand, that my character rose upon him from every mouth. He was in love with me, he said, I was my mother's son.
He commended me for my economy, and complimented into generosity the justice I had done to some of my friends.
I frankly own, said he, that at your first arrival, and even till now (that I am determined to be the man you, cousin, would wish me to be) I had thought it but prudent to hold back. For I imagined, that your father had lived at such a rate, that you would have applied to me, to extricate you from difficulties; and particularly, for money to marry your elder sister, at least. I took notice, young man, proceeded he, and I heard others observe, that you had not eyes to see any of your father's faults; either when he was living, or departed; and this gave me reason to apprehend, that you had your father's extravagant turn: And I was resolved, if I were applied to, to wrap myself close about in a general denial. Else, all I had been gathering together for so many years past, might soon have been dissipated; and I should only have taken a thorn out of the foot of another, and put it into my own.
And then he threw out some disagreeable reflexions on my father's spirit.
To those I answered, That every man had a right to judge for himself, in those articles for which he himself only is accountable. My father, and your Lordship, continued I, had very different ways of thinking. Magnificence was his taste: Prudence (so your Lordship must account it) is yours. There are people in the world, who would give different names to both tastes: But would not your Lordship think it very presumptuous in any man to arraign you at the bar of his judgment, as mistaken in the measures of your prudence?
Look you, nephew, I don't well know what to make of your speech; but I judge, that you mean not to affront me.
I do not, my Lord. While you was apprehensive that you might be a sufferer by me, you acted with your usual prudence to discourage an application. My father had, in your Lordship's judgment, but one fault; and he was the principal sufferer by it himself: Had he looked into his affairs, he would have avoided the necessity of doing several things that were disagreeable to him, and must ever be, to a man of spirit. His very timber, that required, as I may say, the ax, would have furnished him with all he wanted: And he paid interest for a less sum of money than actually was in the hands of his stewards, unaccounted for.
But what a glory to you, cousin—
No compliment to me, my Lord, I pray you, to the discredit of my father's memory. He had a right to do what he did. Your Lordship does what you think fit. I too, now I am my own master, do as I please. My taste is different from both. I pursue mine, as he did his. If I should happen to be more right than my father in some things, he might have the advantage of me in others; and in those I happen to do, that are generally thought laudable, what merit have I? Since all this time (directed by a natural bias) I am pursuing my own predominant passion; and that, perhaps, with as much ardour, and as little power to resist it as my father had to restrain his.
Bravo! bravo! said my Lord—Let me ask you, nephew—May all young men, if they will, improve by travelling, as you have done?—If they may, by my troth nine parts in ten of those who go abroad, ought to be hanged up at their fathers doors on their return.
Very severe, my Lord. But thinking minds will be thoughtful, whether abroad or at home: Unthinking ones call for our pity.
Well, Sir, I do assure you, that I am proud of my nephew, whatever you are of your uncle. And there are two or three things that I want to talk to you about; and one or two that I would consult you upon.
He rang, and asked, What time dinner would be ready?
In half an hour, was the answer.
Mrs. Gissard came in. Her face glowed with passion. My Lord seemed affected at her entrance. It was easy to see, that they were upon ill terms with each other; and that my Lord was more afraid of her, than she was of him.
She endeavoured to assume a complaisant air to me; but it was so visibly struggled for, that it sat very awkwardly on her countenance; and her lips trembled when she broke silence, to ask officiously, as she did, after the health of my sister Charlotte.
I would be alone with my nephew, said my Lord, in a passionate tone.
You shall be alone, my Lord, impertinently replied she, with an air that looked as if they had quarrelled more then once before, and that she had made it up on her own terms. She pulled the door after her with a rudeness that he only could take, and deserve, who was conscious of having degraded himself.
Foolish woman; Why came she in when I was there, except to show her supposed consequence, at the expense of his honour? She knew what my opinion was of her. She would, by a third hand, once, have made overtures to me of her interest with my Lord; but I should have thought meanly of myself, had I not, with disdain, rejected the tender of her services.
A damned woman! said my lord; but looked; first, as if he would be sure she was out of hearing.
This woman, nephew, and her behaviour, is one of the subjects I wanted to consult you upon.
Defer this subject, my Lord, till you have recovered your temper. You did not design to begin with it. You are discomposed.
And so I am: And he puffed, and panted, as if out of breath.
I asked him some indifferent questions. To have followed him upon the subject at that time, whatever resolutions he had taken; they would probably have gone off, when the passion, to which they would have owed their vigour, had subsided.
When he had answered them, his colour and his wrath went down together.
He then ran out into my praises again, and, particularly, for my behaviour to Mrs. Oldham; who, he said, lived now very happily, and very exemplarily; and never opened her lips, when she was led to mention me, but with blessings heaped upon me.
That woman, my Lord, said I was once good. A recovery, where a person is not totally abandoned, is more to be hoped for, than the reformation of one who never was well-principled. All that is wished for, in the latter, is that she may be made unhurtful: Her highest good was never more then harmlessness. She that was once good, cannot be easy, when she is in a true state of penitence, till she is restored to that from which she was induced to depart.
You understand these matters, cousin: I don't. But if you will favour me with more of your company, I shall, I believe, be the better for your notions. But I must talk about this woman, nephew. I am calm now. I must talk of this woman now—I am resolved to part with her: I can bear her no longer. Did you not mind how she pulled the door after her, tho' you were present?
I did, my Lord. But it was plain, that something disagreeable had passed before; or she could not so entirely have forgot herself. But, my Lord, we will postpone this subject, if you please. If you yourself lead to it after dinner, I will attend to it, with all my heart.
Well, then, be it so. But now tell me, Have you, nephew, any thoughts of marriage?
I have great honour for the state; an hope to be one day happy in it.
Well said—And are you at liberty, kinsman, to receive a proposal of that nature?
And then, without waiting for my answer, he proposed Lady Frances N. and said, he had been spoken to on that subject.
I answered, that the Lady was very deserving; but that I should think myself under too great obligations to a wife, for my own ease, if there were a woman in the world whom I could prefer to her.
Well, what think you of Lady Anne S.? I am told, that she is likely to be the Lady. She has a noble fortune. Your sisters, I hear, are friends to Lady Anne.
My sisters wish me happily married. I have such an opinion of both those Ladies, that it would give me some little pain, to imagine each would not, in her turn, refuse me, were I offered to her, as I cannot, myself, make the offer. I cannot bear, my Lord, to think of returning slight for respect, to my own sex: But as to Ladies; how can we expect that delicacy and dignity from them, which are the bulwarks of their virtue, if we do not treat them with dignity?
Charming notions! If you had them not abroad, you had them from your mother: She was all that was excellent in woman.
Indeed she was. Excellent woman! She was always before my eyes.
And excellent kinsman too! Now I know your reverence for your mother, I will allow of all you say of your father; because I see it is all from principle. I have known some men who have spoken with reverence of their mothers, to give themselves dignity: That is to say, for bringing creatures so important as themselves into the world, and who have exacted respect to the good old women who were merely good old women, as we call them, in order to take the incense, offered the parent, into their own nostrils. This was duty in parade.
The observation my good Dr. Bartlett, I thought above my Lord W. I think I have heard one like it, made by my father, who saw very far into men; but was sometimes led, by his wit, into saying a severe thing: And yet, whenever I hear a man praised highly for the performance of common duties, as for being a good husband, a good son, or a kind father; tho' each is comparatively praise-worthy, I conclude, that there is nothing extraordinary to be said of him. To call a man a good FRIEND, is indeed comprising all the duties in one word. For friendship is the balm, as well as seasoning, of life: And a man cannot be defective in any of the social duties, who is capable of it, when the term is rightly understood.
Well, cousin, since you cannot think of either of those Ladies, how should you like the rich and beautiful Countess of R.? You know what an excellent character she bears.
I do. But, my Lord, I should not choose to marry a widow: And yet, generally, I do not disrespect widows, nor imagine those men to blame who marry them. But as my circumstances are not unhappy, and as riches will never be my principal inducement in the choice of a wife, I may be allowed to indulge my peculiarities; especially as I shall hope (and I should not deserve a good wife if I did not) that, when once married, I shall be married for my whole life.
The Countess once declared, said my Lord, before half a score in company, two of them her particular admirers, That she never would marry any man in the world, except he were just such another, in mind and manners, as Sir Charles Grandison.
Ladies, my Lord, who in absence speak favourably of a man that forms not pretensions upon them, nor is likely to be troublesome to them, would soon convince that man of his mistake, were his presumption to rise upon their declared good opinions.
I wonder, proceeded my Lord, that every young man is not good. I have heard you, cousin, praised in all the circles where you have been mentioned. It was certainly an advantage to you to come back to us a stranger, as I may say. Many youthful follies may perhaps be over-passed, that we shall never know any-thing of: But, be that as it will, I can tell you, Sir, that I have heard such praises of you, as have made my eyes glisten, because of my relation to you. I was told, within this month past, that no fewer than Five Ladies, out of one circle, declared, that they would stand out by consent, and let you pick and choose a wife from among them.
What your Lordship has heard of this nature, let me say, without affecting to disclaim a compliment apparently too high for my merits, is much more to the honour of the one sex, than of the other. I should be glad, that policy, if not principle (principle might take root, and grow from it), would mend us men.
So should I, nephew: But I [Poor man! he hung down his head!] have not been a better man than I ought to be. Do you not despise me, in your heart, cousin?—You must have heard—That cursed woman—But I begin to repent! And the truly good, I believe, cannot be either censorious, or uncharitable. Tell me, however, Do you not despise me?
Despise my mother's brother! No, my Lord. Yet were a sovereign to warrant my freedom, and there was a likelihood that he would be the better for it; I would, with decency, tell him my whole mind. I am sorry to say it; but your Lordship, if you have not had virtue to make you worthy of being imitated, has too many examples among the great, as well as among the middling, to cause you to be censured for singularity. But your Lordship adds, to a confession that is not an ungenerous one, that you begin to repent.
Indeed I do. And your character, cousin, has made me half-ashamed of myself.
I am not accustomed, my Lord, to harangue on these subjects to men who know their duty: But let me say, That your Lordship's good resolutions, to be efficacious, must be built upon a better foundation than occasional disgust or disobligation. But here, again, we are verging to a subject that we are both agreed to defer till after dinner.
I am charmed with your treatment of me, cousin. I shall, for my own sake, adore my sister's son. Had I consulted my chaplain, who is a good man too, he would have too roughly treated me.
Divines, my Lord, must do their duty.
He then introduced the affair between Sir Hargrave Pollexfen and me, of which, I found, he was more particularly informed, than I could have imagined: And after he had launched out upon that, and upon my refusal of a duel, he, by a transition that was very natural, mentioned the rescued Lady, as he called her. I have heard, cousin, said he, that she is the most beautiful woman in England.
I think her so, my Lord, replied I: And she has one excellence, that I never before met with in a Beauty: She is not proud of it.
I then gave my opinion of Miss Byron in such terms, as made my Lord challenge me, as my sisters once did, on the warmth of my description and praises of her.
And does your Lordship think, that I cannot do justice to the merits of such a Lady as Miss Byron, but with an interested view? I do assure you, that what I have said, is short of what I think of her.
But I can praise a Lady, without meaning a compliment to myself. I look upon it, however, as one of the most fortunate accidents of my life, that I have been able to serve her, and save her from a forced marriage with a man whom she disliked, and who could not deserve her. There is hardly any-thing gives me more pain, than when I see a worthy woman very unequally yoked, if her own choice has not been at first consulted; and who yet, tho' deeply sensible of her misfortune, irreproachably supports her part of the yoke.
You are a great friend to the sex, kinsman.
I am. I think the man who is not, must have fallen into bad company; and deserves not to have been favoured with better. Yet to unwomanly faults, to want of morals, and even to want of delicacy, no man is more quick-sighted.
I don't know how it is; but I have not, at this rate, fallen into the best company: But perhaps it is for want of that delicacy, in my own mind, which you are speaking of.
Were we men, my Lord, to value women (and to let it be known that we do) for those qualities which are principally valuable in the sex; the less estimable, if they would not be reformed, would shrink out of our company, into company more suitable to their taste; and we should never want objects worthy of our knowledge, and even of our admiration, to associate with. There is a kind of magnetism in goodness. Bad people will indeed find out bad people, and confederate with them, in order to keep one another in countenance; but they are bound together by a rope of sand; while trust, confidence, love, sympathy, and a reciprocation of beneficent actions, twist a cord which ties good men to good men, and cannot be easily broken.
I have never had these notions, cousin; and yet they are good ones. I took people as I found them; and to own the truth, meaning to serve myself, rather than any-body else, I never took pains to look out for worthy attachments. The people I had to do with, had the same views upon me, as I had upon them; and thus I went on in a state of hostility with all men; mistrusting and guarding, as well as I could, and not doubting that every man I had to do with would impose upon me, if I placed a confidence in him: But as to this Miss Byron, nephew, I shall never rest till I see her—Pray what is her fortune? They tell me, it is not above 15000l. —What is that, to the offers you have had made you?
Just then we were told, dinner was on the table.
I am wishing for an inclination to rest; but it flies me. The last Letter from Beauchamp, dated from Bologna, as well as those from the Bishop, afflict me. Why have I such a feeling heart? Were the unhappy situation of affairs there owing to my own enterprising spirit, I should deserve the pain it gives me. But I should be too happy, had I not these without-door perplexities, as I may call them, to torment me. Thank God that they arise not from within, tho' they make themselves too easy a passage to my heart!
My paper is written out. If I am likely to find a drowsy moment, I shall welcome its approach: If not, I will rise, and continue my subject.
Volume III - lettera 14
Volume III - Letter 15
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO DR. BARTLETT.
Sunday Mar. 19.
I have had two happy hours of forgetfulness. I could not, tho' I tried for it, prevail for more: And I will continue my subject.
After dinner, every attendant being dismissed, my Lord, making me first see that nobody was listening n the passages, began as follows:
I am determined, nephew, to part with this Giffard. She is the plague of my life. I would have done it half a year ago, on an occasion that I will not mention to you, because you would despise me, if I did, for my weakness: And now she wants to bring in upon me, a sister of hers, and her husband, and to part with two other worthy folks, that I know love me; but of whom, for that reason, she is jealous; and then they would divide me among them: For this man and his wife have six children; all of whom, of late, make an appearance that cannot be honestly supported.
And have you any difficulty, my Lord, in parting with her, but what arises from your own want of resolution?
The most insolent devil that ever was about a man at one time, and the most whining at another. Don't despise me, nephew; you know I have taken her as—You know what I mean—
I understand you, my Lord.
But say, you don't despise me, Sir Charles Grandison. As I hope to live, I am half afraid of you.
My pity, my Lord, where I see compunction, is stronger than my censure.
That is well said.—Now I agreed with this woman, in a weak moment, and she has held me to it, to give her an annuity of 150l. for life; which was to be made up 250l. if I parted with her, without her consent; and here we have been, for several months, plaguing one another, whether I shall turn her out of the house, or she will leave me: For she has told me, that she will not stay, unless I take in her sister and brother; yet will not go, because she will then have no more than the 150l. a year. And that is too much for her deserts for these two years past.
Your Lordship sees the inconveniencies of this way of life; and I need not mention to you, how much happier that state is, which binds a man and woman together by interest, as well as by affection, if discretion be not forgotten in the choice. But let me express my surprise, that your Lordship, who has so ample an estate, and no child should seem to value your peace of mind at so low a rate as 100l. a year.
I will not let her go away with such a triumph. She has not deserved from me—
Pray, my Lord, was she of reputation when you took her?
She was a widow—
But was her character tolerable in the eye of the world? She might be a greater object of pity for being a widow.
My gouty disorders made me want a woman about me. I hated men-fellows—
Well, my Lord, this regards your motive. But have you any previous or later incontinence to charge her with?
I can't say I have. Her cursed temper would frighten, rather than invite, Lovers. I heard, it was no good one; but it broke not out to me till within these two years.
Your Lordship, surely, must not dispute the matter with her. If you are determined to part with her, give her the 250l. a year, and let her go.
To reward a cursed woman for misbehaviour!—I cannot do it.
Give me leave to say, that your Lordship has deserved some punishment: Give her the annuity, not as a reward to her, but as a punishment to yourself.
You hurt my sore place, nephew.
Consider, my Lord, that 250l. a year for life, or even for ever, is a poor price, for the reputation of a woman with whom a man of your quality and fortune condescended to enter into treaty. Every quarterly payment must strike her to the heart, if she live to have compunction seize her, when she thinks that she is receiving, for subsistence, the wages of her shame. Be that her punishment. You intimate, that she has so behaved herself, that she has but few friends: Part with her, without giving her cause of complaint, that may engage pity for her, if not friends, at your expense. A woman who has lost her reputation, will not be regardful of yours. Suppose she sue you for non-performance of covenants: Would your Lordship appear to such a prosecution? You cannot be capable of pleading your privilege on such a prosecution as would otherwise go against you. You cannot be in earnest to part with this woman, she cannot have offended you beyond forgiveness, if you scruple 100l. a year to get rid of her.
He fervently swore, that he was in earnest; and added, I am resolved, nephew, to marry, and live honest.
He looked at me, as if he expected that I should be surprised.
I believe I could not change countenance, on such an hint as this. You have come to a good resolution, my Lord; and if you marry a prudent woman, your Lordship will find the difference in your own reflexions, as well as in your reputation and interest. And shall the difference of 100l. a year—Don't let me say, that I am ashamed for my Lord W.
I knew that you would despise me, Sir Charles.
I know, my Lord, that I should despise myself, were I not to deal freely with you in this respect. Indeed, my Lord, you have not had so good reason (forgive me!) to think hardly of my father's spirit, as you had to correct your own.
I cannot bear this, nephew. He looked displeased.
You must not be angry, my Lord. I will not bear anger from any man breathing, and keep him company, who, consulting me, shall be displeased with me for speaking my mind with freedom and sincerity.
What a man am I talking to!—Well, rid me of this torment [You have spirit, nephew; and nobody can reproach you with acting contrary to your own principles] and I will for ever love you. But talk to her: I hardly dare. She whimpers and sobs, and threatens, by turns, and I cannot bear it.—Once she was going to tie herself up—Would to God I had not prevented her—And then (O my folly!) we went on again.
My good Dr. Bartlett, I was ashamed of my uncle. But you see what an artful, as well as insolent woman, this is. What folly is there in wickedness! Folly encounters with folly, or how could it succeed so often as it does?—Yet my mother's brother to wish he had suffered a creature, with whom he had been familiar, to destroy herself!—I could hardly bear him. Only that I thought it would be serving both wretches, and giving both a chance for repentance; or I should not have kept my seat—But we see in my mother, and in her brother, how habitual wickedness debases, and how habitual goodness exalts, the human mind. In their youth they were supposed nearer an equality in their understandings and attainments, than in their maturity, when occasion called out into action their respective talents. But perhaps the brother was not the better man for the uninterrupted prosperity that attended him, and for having never met with check or control; whereas the most happily married woman in the world must have a will to which she must sometimes resign her own. What a glory to a good woman must it be, who can not only resign her will, but make so happy an use of her resignation, as my mother did!
My Lord repeated his request, that I would talk with the woman; and that directly.
I withdrew, and sent for her, accordingly.
She came to me, out of breath with passion; and, as I thought, partly with apprehension for what her own behaviour might be before me.
I see, Mrs. Giffard, said I, that you are in great emotion. I am desired to talk with you; a task I am not very fond of: But you will find nothing but civility, such as is due to you, for your sex's sake, from me. Calm, therefore, your mind: I will see you again, in a few moments.
I took a turn, and soon came back. Her face looked not quite so bloated; and she burst into tears. She began to make a merit of her services; her care; her honesty; and then inveighed against my Lord for the narrowness of his spirit. She paid some compliments to me, and talked of being ashamed to appear before me as a guilty creature; introductory to what she was prepared to say of her sacrifices, the loss of her good name, and the like; on which, with respect to my Lord, and his ingratitude to her, as she called it, she laid great stress.
I am never displeased, my dear friend, with the testimony which the most profligate women bear to the honour of virtue, when they come to set a value upon their departure from it.
You have it not to say, Mrs. Giffard, that my Lord betrayed, seduced, or deceived you. I say not this so much for reproach, as for justice-sake; and not to suffer you to deceive yourself, and to load him with greater faults than he has been guilty of. You were your own mistress: You had no father, mother, husband, to question you, or to be offended with you. You knew your duty. You were treated with as a sole and independent person. One hundred and fifty pounds a year, Mrs. Giffard, tho' a small price for the virtue of a good woman, which is indeed above all price, is, nevertheless, greatly above the price of common service. I never seek to palliate faults of a flagrant nature: tho' it is not my meaning to affront, a woman especially, and one who supposes herself in distress. You must know, madam, the frail tenure by which you are likely to hold: You stipulated, therefore, for a provision, accordingly. The woman who never hoped to be a wife, can have no hardships to take the stipulation, and once more give herself the opportunity to recover her lost fame. This independence my Lord is desirous to give you—
What independence, Sir?
One hundred and fifty—
Two hundred and fifty, Sir, if you please—If my Lord thinks fit to dismiss me.
My Lord has told me, that that was indeed the stipulation; but he pleads misbehaviour.
I was willing to make a little difficulty of the 100 l. a year, tho' I thought my Lord ought not—And as to misbehaviour, Dr. Bartlett, I hardly know how to punish a woman for that, to her keeper. Does she not first misbehave to herself, and to the laws of God and man? And ought a man, that brings her to violate her first duties, to expect from her a regard to a mere discretionary obligation? I would have all these moralists, as they affect to call themselves, suffer by such libertine principles as cannot be pursued, but in violation of the very first laws of morality.
Misbehaviour! Sir. He makes this plea to cover his own baseness of heart. I never misbehaved, as he calls it, till I saw—
Well, madam, this may lead to a debate that can answer no end. I presume, you are as willing to leave my Lord, as he is to part with you. It must be a wretchedness beyond what I can well imagine, to live a life of guilt (I must not palliate in this case) and yet of hatred and animosity, with the person who is a partaker in that guilt.
I am put upon a very unequal task, Sir, to talk with you on this subject. My Lord will not refuse to see me, I hope. I know what to say to him.
He has requested me to talk with you, madam. As I told you, I am not fond of the task. We have all our faults. God knows what he will pardon, and what he will punish. His pardon, however, in a great measure depends upon yourself. You have health and time, to all appearance, before you: Your future life may be a life of penitence. I am no divine, madam; I would not be thought to preach to you: But you have now a prospect opened of future happiness, thro' your mutual misunderstandings, that you never otherwise might have had. And let me make an observation to you; That where hate or dislike have once taken place of liking, the first separation, in such a case as this, is always the best. Affection or esteem between man and woman, once forfeited, hardly ever is recovered. Tell me truth—Don't you as heartily dislike my Lord, as he does you?
I do, Sir—He is—
I will not hear what he is, from the mouth of declared prejudice. He has his faults. One great fault is, that which you have been joint partakers in—But if you might, would you choose to live together to be torments to each other?
I can torment him more than he can me—
Diabolical temper!—Woman! (and I stood up, and looked sternly) Can you forget to whom you say this—and of whom?—Is not Lord W. my uncle?
This (as I intended it should) startled her. She asked my pardon.
What a fine hand, proceeded I, has a Peer of the realm made of it! to have this said of him, and perhaps, had you been in his presence, to him, by a woman whose courage is founded in his weakness?—Let me tell you, madam—
She held up her clasped hands—For God's sake, forgive me, Sir! and stand my friend.
An hundred and fifty pounds a year, madam, is rich payment for any consideration that a woman could give, who has more spirit than virtue. Had you kept that, madam, you would, tho' the daughter of cottagers, have been superior to the greatest man on earth, who wanted to corrupt you.—But thus far, and as a punishment to my Lord for his wilful weakness, I will be your friend—Retire from my Lord: You shall have 250l. a year: And as you were not brought up to the expectation of one half of the fortune, bestow the hundred a year, that was in debate, upon young creatures of your sex, as an encouragement to them to preserve that chastity, which you, with your eyes open, gave up; and, with the rest, live a life suitable to that disposition; and then, as my fellow-creature, I will wish you happy.
She begged leave to withdraw: She could not, she said, stand in my presence. I had, indeed, spoken with warmth. She withdrew, trembling, curtsying, mortified; and I returned to my Lord.
He was very earnest to hear my report. I again put it to him, Whether he adhered to his resolution of parting with his woman? He declared in the affirmative, with greater earnestness than before; and begged to know, if I could manage it that she should go, and that without seeing him? I cannot bear to see her, said he.
Bravoes of the Law, cowards and cullies to their paramours, are these keepers, generally. I have ever suspected the courage (to magnanimity they must be strangers) of men who can defy the laws of society. I pitied him: And believing that it would not be difficult to manage this heroine, who had made her weak Lord afraid of her; I said, Have you a mind, my Lord, that she shall quit the house this night, and before I leave it? If you have, I think I can undertake, that she shall.
And can you do this for me? If you can, you shall be my great Apollo. That will, indeed, make me happy: For the moment you are gone, she will force herself into my presence, and will throw the gout, perhaps, into my stomach. She reproaches me, as if she had been an innocent woman, and I the most ungrateful of men. For God's sake, nephew, release me from her, and I shall be happy. I would have left her behind me in the country, proceeded he, but she would come with me. She was afraid that I would appeal to you: She stands in awe of nobody else. You will be my guardian Angel, if you will rid me of this plague.
Well, then, my Lord, you will leave it to me to do the best I can with her: But it cannot be the best on your side, for your honour's sake, if we do her not that justice that the law would, or ought to do her. In a word, my Lord, you must forgive me for saying, that you shall not resume that dignity to distress this woman, which you laid aside when you entered into treaty with her.
Well, well, I refer myself to your management: Only this 100l. a year—Once again, I say, it would hurt me to reward a woman for plaguing me: And 150l. a year is two-thirds more than ever she, or any of her family, were entitled to.
The worst and meanest are entitled to justice, my Lord; and I hope your Lordship will not refuse to perform engagements that you entered into with your eyes open: You must not, if I take any concern in this affair.
Just then the woman sent in, to beg the favour of an audience, as she called it, of me.
She addressed me in terms above her education. There is something, said she, in your countenance, Sir, so terrible, and yet so sweet, that one must fear your anger, and yet hope for your forgiveness, when one has offended. I was too free in speaking of my Lord to his nephew—And then she made a compliment to my character, and told me, She would be determined by my pleasure, be it what it would.
How seldom are violent spirits true spirits! When over-awed, how tame are they, generally, in their submission! Yet this woman was not without art in hers. She saw, that, displeased as she apprehended I was with her, I had given her hopes of the payment of the hundred pounds a year penalty; and this made her so acquiescent.
I was indeed displeased with you, Mrs. Giffard; and could not, from what you said, but conclude in your disfavour, in justification of my Lord's complaints against you.
Will you give me leave, Sir, to lay before you the true state of every-thing between my Lord and me? Indeed, Sir, you don't know—
When two persons, who have lived in familiarity, differ, the fault is seldom wholly on one side: But thus far I judge between you, and desire not to hear particulars: The man who dispenses with a known duty, in such a case as this before us, must render himself despicable in the eyes of the very person whom he raises into consequence by sinking his own. Chastity is the crown and glory of a woman. The most profligate of men love modesty in the sex, at the very time they are forming plots to destroy it in a particular object. When a woman has submitted to put a price upon her honour, she must appear, at times, despicable in the eyes even of her seducer; and when these two break out into animosity, ought either to wish to live with the other?
Indeed, indeed, Sir, I am struck with remorse: I see my error. And she put her handkerchief to her eyes, and seemed to weep.
I proceeded; You, Mrs. Giffard, doubted the continuance of my Lord's passion: You made your terms, therefore, and proposed a penalty besides. My Lord submitted to the terms, and by that means secured his right of dismissing you, at his pleasure; the only conveniency, that a man dishonouring himself by despising marriage, can think he has. Between him and you, what remains to be said (tho' you are both answerable at a tribunal higher than your own) but that you should have separated long ago? Yet you would not consent to it: You would not leave him at liberty to assert the right he had reserved to himself. Strange weakness in him, that he would suffer that to depend upon you! But one weakness is the parent of another,
She then visibly wept.
You found it out, that you could torment your Lord in an higher degree, than he could torment you; and how, acting upon such principles, you have lived together for some time past, you have let every one see.
She, on her knees, besought my pardon for the freedom of that expression; not from motives of contrition, as I apprehend; but from those of policy.
She was strong enough to raise herself, without my assistance. She did, unbidden, on seeing me step backward a pace or two, to give her an opportunity to do so; and looked very silly; and the more, for having missed my assisting hand: By which I supposed, that she had usually better success with my Lord, whenever she had prevailed on herself to kneel to him.
It is easy, my good Dr. Bartlett, from small crevices, to discover day in an artful woman's heart. Nothing can be weaker, in the eye of an observer, who himself disdains artifice, than a woman who makes artifice her study. In such a departure from honest nature, there will be such curvings, that the eyes, the countenance, must ever betray the heart; while the lips, either breaking out into apologies, or aiming at reserve, confirm the suspicion, that all is not right in the mind.
I excuse you, Mrs. Giffard, said I; my Lord has deservedly brought much of what has distressed him, upon himself: But now it is best for you to part. My Lord chooses not to see you. I would advise you to remove this very afternoon.
What, Sir, and not have my 250l. a year!
Will you leave the house this night, if I give you my word—
For the whole sum, Sir?—Two hundred and fifty pounds a year, Sir?
Yes, for the whole sum.
I will, Sir, with all my heart and soul. Most of my things are in the country. My Lord came up in a passion, to talk with you, Sir. Two or three bandboxes are all I have here. Mr. Halden (he is my Lord's favourite) shall go down, and see I take nothing but my own—I will trust to your word of honour, Sir—and leave, for ever, the most ungrateful—
Hush, Mrs. Giffard, these tears are tears of passion. There is not a female feature, at this instant, in your face—[What a command of countenance! It cleared up in a moment. I expected it from her] A penitent spirit is an humble, a broken spirit: You show, at present, no sign of it.
She dropped me a curtsy, with such an air (tho' not designed, I believe,) as showed that the benefit she was to reap from the advice, would not be sudden, if ever; and immediately repeated her question, If she had my honour for the payment of the entire sum—And you don't insist, Sir, (I have poor relations) that I shall pay out the hundred a year, as you mentioned?
You are to do with the whole annuity as you please. If your relations are worthy, you cannot do better than to relieve their necessities. But remember, Mrs. Giffard, that every quarter brings you the wages of iniquity, and endeavour at some atonement.
The woman could too well bear this severity.
Had a finger been sufficient to have made her feel, I would not have laid upon her the weight of my whole hand.
She assured me, that she would leave the house in two hours time; and I returned to my Lord, and told him so.
He got up, and embraced me, and called me his good Angel. I advised him to give his orders to Halden, or to whom he thought fit, to do her and himself justice, as to what belonged to her in the country.
But the terms! the terms! cried my Lord. If you have brought me off for 150 l. I will adore you.
These are the terms (You promised to leave them to me): You pay no more than 150 l. a year for her life, till you assure me, upon your honour, that you cheerfully, and on mature consideration, make it up 250 l.
How is that! How is that, nephew?—Then I never shall pay more, depend upon it.
Nor will I ever ask you.
He rubbed his hands, forgetting the gout; but was remembered by the pain, and cried, Oh!—
But how did you manage it, kinsman?—I never should have brought her to any-thing. How did you manage it?
Your Lordship does not repent her going?
He swore, that it was the happiest event that could have befallen him. I hope, said, he, she will go without wishing to see me. Whether she would whine, or curse, it would be impossible for me to see her, and be myself.
I believe she will go without desiring to see you; perhaps while I am here.
Thank God! a fair riddance! Thank God!
But is it possible, kinsman, that you could bring me off for 150 l. a year? Tell me, truly.
It is: And I tell your Lordship, that it shall cost you no more, till you shall know how to value the comfort and happiness of your future life at more than 100 l. a year: Till then, the respect I pay to my mother's brother, and the regard I have for his honour, will make me cheerfully pay the 100 l. a year in dispute, out of my own pocket.
He looked around him, his head turning as if on a pivot; and, at last, bursting out into tears and speech together—And is it thus, Is it thus, you subdue me? Is it thus you convince me of my shameful littleness? I cannot bear it: All that this woman has done to me, is nothing to this. I can neither leave you, nor stay in your presence. Leave me, leave me, for six minutes only—Jesus? how shall I bear my own littleness?
I arose. One word, only, my Lord. When I reenter, say not a syllable more on this subject: Let it pass as I put it. I would part with a greater sum than an hundred a year, for the satisfaction of giving to my uncle the tranquillity he has so long wanted in his own house, rather than that a person, who has had a dependence upon him, should think herself entitled to complain of injustice from him.
He caught my hand, and would have met it with his lips. I withdrew it hastily, and retired; leaving him to recollect himself.
When I returned, he thrust into my hand a paper, and held it there, and swore that I should take it. If the wretch live ten years, nephew, said he, that will reimburse you; if she die sooner, the difference is yours: And, for God's sake, for the sake of your mother's memory, don't despise me; that is all the favour I ask you: No man on earth was ever so nobly overcome. By all that's good, you shall chalk me out my path. Blessed be my sister's memory, for giving me such a kinsman! The name of Grandison, that I ever disliked till now, is the first of names: And may it be perpetuated to the end of time!
He held the paper in my hand till he had done speaking. I then opened it, and found it to be a bank note of 1000 l. I was earnest to return it; but he swore so vehemently, that he would have it so, that I, at last, acquiesced; but declared, that I would pay the whole annuity, as far as the sum went; and this, as well in justice to him, as to save him the pain of attending to an affair that must be grievous to him: And I insisted upon giving him an acknowledgement under my hand, for that sum; and to be accountable to him for it, as his banker would in the like case.
And thus ended this affair. The woman went away before me. She begged the favour, at the door, of one word with me. My Lord started up, at her voice: His complexion varied: He whipped as nimbly behind the door, as if he had no gout in his foot. I will not see her, said he.
I stepped out. She complimented, thanked me, and wept; but, in the height of her concern, would have uttered bitter things against my Lord: But I stopped her mouth, by telling her, that I was to be her paymaster, quarterly, of the 250 l. a year. She turned her execrations, against her Lord, into blessings on me: But, after all, departed with reluctance.
Pride, and not tenderness, was visibly the occasion. Could she have secured her whole annuity, she would have gratified that pride, by leaving her Lord in triumph while she thought her departure would have given him regret: But to be dismissed, was a disgrace that affected her, and gave bitterness to her insolent spirit.
Volume III - lettera 15
Volume III - Letter 16
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO DR. BARTLETT. IN CONINUATION.
My Lord, tho' he had acquitted himself on the occasion, in such a manner as darted into my mind a little ray of my beloved mother's spirit, could not forbear giving way to his habitual littleness, when he was assured Giffard was out of the house. He called Halden to him, who entered with joy in his countenance, arising, as it came out, from the same occasion, and ordered him to make all his domestics happy for (what he meanly called) his deliverance: Asking, If there were any-body in the house who loved her? Not a single soul, said Halden; and I am sure, that I may venture to congratulate your Lordship, in the names of all your servants: For she was proud, imperious, and indeed a tyranness to all beneath her.
I then, for the first time, pitied the woman; and should have pitied her still more (true as this might, in some measure, be) had she not gone away so amply rewarded: For in this little family I looked forward to the family of the State; the Sovereign and his ministers. How often has a minister, who has made a tyrannical use of his power (and even some who have not) experienced, on his dismission, the like treatment, from those who, had they had his power, would perhaps have made as bad use of it; who, in its plenitude, were fawning, creeping slaves, as these servants might be to this mistress of their Lord! We read but of one grateful Cromwell, in all the superb train of Wolsey, when he had fallen into disgrace; and yet he had in it hundreds, some not ignobly born, and all of them less meanly descended than their magnificent master.
Halden addressed himself to me, as having been the means of making his Lord, and his whole household, happy. Let the joy be moderate, Halden, said I: The poor woman might, possibly, have numbered among her well-wishers (she could not have disobliged every body) some of those, who now will be most forward to load her with obloquy. You must not make her too considerable: It is best for my Lord, as well as for those who loved her not, to forget there ever was such a woman; except to avoid her faults, and to imitate her in what was commendable. She boasts of her honesty and management: My Lord charges her not with infidelity, of any kind.
Halden bowed, and withdrew.
My Lord swore, by his soul, that I had not my good name for nothing. Blessed, said he, be the name of the Grandisons! This last plaudit gratified my pride (I need not tell my Dr. Bartlett, that I have pride); the more gratified it, as Lord W.'s animosity to my father made him out of love with his name.
I did not think, when my Lord began his story to me, that I should so soon have brought about a separation of guilt from guilt: But their mutual disgusts had prepared the way; resentment and pride, mingled with avarice on one side, and self-interestedness, founded (reasonably) on a stipulation made, and not complied with, on the other; were all that hindered it from taking place as from themselves. A mediator had nothing then to do, but to advise an act of justice, and so to gild it by a precedent of disinterestedness in himself, as should inspire an emulation in a proud spirit, that, if not then, must, when passion had subsided, have arisen, to make all end as it ought.
When I found my Lord's joy a little moderated, I drew my chair near him. Well, my Lord, and now as to your hints of marriage—
Blessed God!—Why, nephew, you overturn me with your generosity. Are you not my next of kin? And can you give your consent, were I to ask it, that I should marry?
I give you not only my consent, as you condescendingly phrase it, but my advice, to marry.
Good God! I could not, in the like case, do thus. But, nephew, I am not a young man.
The more need of a prudent, a discreet, a tender assistant. Your Lordship hinted, that you liked not men-servants about your person, in your illness. You are often indisposed with the gout: Servants will not always be servants when they find themselves of use. Infirmity requires indulgence: In the very nature of the word and thing, indulgence cannot exist with servility; between man and wife it may: The same interest unites them. Mutual confidence! who can enough value the joy, the tranquillity at least, that results from mutual confidence? A man gives his own consequence to the woman he marries; and he sees himself respected in the respect paid her: She extends his dignity, and confirms it. There is such a tenderness, such an helpfulness, such a sympathy in suffering, in a good woman, that I am always for excusing men in years, who marry prudently; while I censure, for the same reason, women in years. Male nurses are unnatural creatures! [There is not such a character that can be respectable] Women's sphere is the house, and their shining-place the sick chamber, in which they can exert all their amiable, and, shall I say, lenient qualities? Marry, my-Lord, by all means. You are hardly Fifty; but were you Seventy, and so often indisposed; so wealthy; no children to repine at a mother-in-law, and to render your life or hers uncomfortable by their little jealousies; I would advise you to marry. The man or woman deserves not to be benefited in the disposition of your affairs, that would wish you to continue in the hands of mean people, and to rob you of the joys of confidence, and the comfort of tender help, from an equal, or from one who deserves to be made your equal, in degree. Only, my Lord, marry so, as not to defeat your own end: Marry not a gay creature, who will be fluttering about in public, while you are groaning in your chamber, and wishing for her presence.
Blessings on your heart, my nephew! Best of men! I can hold no longer. There was no bearing, before, your generosity: What can I say now?—But you must be in earnest.
Have you, my Lord, asked I, any Lady in your eye?
No, said he; indeed I have not.
I was the better pleased with him, that he had not; because I was afraid, that, like our VIIIth Henry, he had some other woman in view, which might have made him more uneasy than he would otherwise have been with Giffard: For tho' it was better that he should marry, than live in scandal; and a woman of untainted character, rather than one who had let the world see that she could take a price for her honour; yet I thought him better justified in his complaints of that woman's misbehaviour, than in the other case he would have been: And that it was an happiness to both (if a right use were made of the event) that they had been unable to live on, as they had set out.
He told me, that he should think himself the happiest of men, if I could find out, and recommend to him, a woman, that I thought worthy of his addresses; and even would court her for him.
Your Lordship ought not to expect fortune.
I do not.
She should be a gentlewoman by birth and education; a woman of a serious turn: Such an one is not likely in affluence to run into those scenes of life, from which, perhaps, only want of fortune has restrained the gayer creature. I would not have your Lordship fix an age, tho' I think you should not marry a girl. Some women, at Thirty, are more discreet than others at Forty: And if your Lordship should be blessed with a child or two to inherit your great estate, that happy event would domesticate the Lady, and make your latter years more happy than your former.
My Lord held up his hands and eyes, and tears seemed to make themselves furrows on his cheeks.
He made me look at him, by what he said on this occasion, and with anger, till he explained himself.
By my soul, said he, and clapped his two lifted-up hands together, I hate your father: I never heartily loved him; but now I hate him more than ever I did in my life.
Don't be surprised. I hate him for keeping so long abroad a son, who would have converted us both. Lessons of morality, given in so noble a manner by regular practice, rather than by preaching theory (those were his words) not only where there is no interest proposed to be served, but against interest, must have subdued us both; and that by our own consents. O my sister! and he clasped his hands, and lifted up his eyes, as if he had the dear object of his brotherly address before him; how have you blessed me, in your son!—
This apostrophe to my mother affected me. What a mixture is there in the character of Lord W.! What a good man might he have made, had he been later his own master!—His father died before he was of age.
He declared, that I had described the very wife he wished to have. Find out such an one for me, my dear kinsman, said he; and I give you carte blanche: But let her not be younger than Fifty. Make the settlements for me: I am very rich: I will sign them blindfold. If the Lady be such an one as you say I ought to love, I will love her: Only let her say, she can be grateful for my love, and for the provision you shall direct me to make for her; and my first interview with her shall be at the altar.
I think, my friend, I have in my eye such a woman as my Lord ought to do very handsome things for, if she condescend to have him. I will not tell you, not even you, whom I mean, till I know she will encourage such a proposal; and, for her own fortune's sake, I think she should: But I had her not in my thoughts when I proposed to my Lord the character of the woman he should wish for.
Adieu, my dear friend.
Volume III - lettera 16
Volume III - Letter 17
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Tuesday, Mar. 21.
Dr. Bartlett went to town yesterday. He returned early enough to breakfast with us. He found at dinner with his patron, the whole Danby family and Mr. Sylvester; as also, the two masters of the young gentlemen, with Mr. Galliard, whose son is in love with Miss Danby, and she with him. There all the parties had confirmed to them the generous goodness of Sir Charles, of which he had assured Mr. Sylvester and the two brothers and sister before.
I am sorry, methinks, the doctor went to town: We should otherwise, perhaps, have had the particulars of all, from the pen of the benevolent man. Such joy, such admiration, such gratitude, the doctor says, were expressed from every mouth, that his own eyes, as well as Mr. Sylvester's, and most of those present, more than once, were ready to overflow.
Every thing was there settled, and even a match proposed by Sir Charles, and the proposal received with approbation on both sides, between the elder Miss Galliard, and that audacious young man the drug-merchant; who recovered, by his behaviour in this meeting, his reputation with Sir Charles, and every-body.
The doctor says, that Mr. Hervey and Mr. Poussin, the two masters of the young gentlemen, are very worthy men; so is Mr. Galliard: And they behaved so handsomely on the occasion, that Sir Charles expressed himself highly pleased with them all. For Mr. Hervey and Mr. Galliard offered to accept of less money than Sir Charles made the young people worth; the one for a portion with Miss Danby; the other for admitting the elder Danby into a partnership with him, on his marriage with his niece: But Sir Charles had no notion, he said, of putting young men, of good characters and abilities, to difficulties at their entrance into the world: The greatest expenses, he observed, were then incurred. In slight or scanty beginnings, scanty plans must be laid, and pursued. Mr. Galliard then declared, that the younger Danby should have the handsomer fortune with his daughter, if she approved of him, for the very handsome one Miss Danby would carry to his son.
Sir Charles's example, in short, fired every one with emulation; and three marriages, with the happiest prospects, are likely very soon to follow these noble instances of generosity. Mr. Sylvester proposed the celebration on one day: In that case, the gentlemen joined to hope Sir Charles would honour them with his presence. He assentingly bowed. How many families are here, at once made happy!
Dr. Bartlett, after he had given us this relation, said, on our joining in one general blessing of his patron, You know not, Ladies, you know not, my Lord, what a general Philanthropist your brother is: His whole delight is in doing good. It has always been so: And to mend the hearts, as well as fortunes, of men, is his glory.
We could not but congratulate the doctor on his having so considerable a hand (as Sir Charles always, Lord L. said, delighted to own) in cultivating his innate good principles, at so critical a time of life, as that was, in which they became acquainted.
The doctor very modesty received the compliment, and, to wave our praises, gave us another instance of the great manner in which Sir Charles conferred benefits, as follows:
He once, said the doctor, when his fortune was not what it now is, lent a very honest man, a merchant of Leghorn, when he resided there (as he did sometimes for a month or two together, for the conveniency of the English chapel) a considerable sum; and took his bond for it: After a while, things not answering to the poor man's expectation, Mr. Grandison took notice to me, said the doctor, that he appeared greatly depressed and dejected, and occasionally came into his company with such a sense of obligation in his countenance and behaviour, that he could not bear it: And why, said he, should I keep it in my power to distress a man, whose modesty and diffidence show, that he deserves to be made easy?—I may die suddenly: My executors may think it but justice to exact payment: And that exaction may involve him in as great difficulties as those were, from which the loan delivered him.—I will make his heart light. Instead of suffering him to sigh over his uncertain prospects at his board, or in his bed, I will make both his board and his bed easy to him. His wife and his five children shall rejoice with him; they shall see the good man's countenance, as it used to do, shine upon them; and occasionally meet mine with grateful comfort.
He then cancelled the bond: And, at the same time, fearing the man's distress might be deeper than he owned, offered him the loan of a further sum. But, by his behaviour upon it, I found, said Mr. Grandison, that the sum he owed, and the doubt he had of being able to pay it in time, were the whole of the honest man's grievance. He declined, with gratitude, the additional offer, and walked, ever after, erect.
He is now living, and happy, proceeded the doctor; and, just before Mr. Grandison left Italy, would have made him some part of payment, from the happier turn in his affairs; which, probably, was owing to his revived spirits. But Mr. Grandison asked, What he thought he meant, when he cancelled the obligation?—Yet he told him, that it was not wrong in him to make the tender: For free minds, he said, loved not to be ungenerously dealt with.
What a man is this, Lucy!
No wonder, thus gloriously employed, with my Lord W. and the Danby's, said Lord L. and perhaps in other acts of goodness that we know nothing of, besides the duties of his executorship, that we are deprived of his company! But some of these, as he has so good a friend as Dr. Bartlett, he might transfer to him—and oblige us more with his presence; and the rather, as he declares it would be obliging himself.
Ah, my Lord! said the doctor, and looked round him, his eyes dwelling longest on me—You don't know—He stopped. We all were silent. He proceeded—Sir Charles Grandison does nothing without reason: A good man must have difficulties to encounter with, that a mere man of the world would not be embarrassed by.—But how I engage your attention, Ladies!—
The doctor arose; for breakfast was over—Dear doctor, said Miss Grandison, don't leave us—As to that Bologna, that Camilla, that Bishop—Tell us more of them, dear doctor.
Excuse me, Ladies; excuse me, my Lord. He bowed, and withdrew.
How we looked at one another! How the fool, in particular, blushed! How her heart throbbed!—At what?—
But, Lucy, give me your opinion—Dr. Bartlett guesses, that I am far from being indifferent to Sir Charles Grandison: He must be assured, that my own heart must be absolutely void of benevolence, if I did not more and more esteem Sir Charles, for his: And would Dr. Bartlett be so cruel, as to contribute to a flame, that, perhaps, is with difficulty kept from blazing out, as one hears new instances of his generous goodness, if he knew that Sir Charles Grandison was so engaged, as to render it impossible—What shall I say?—O this cruel, cruel suspense—What hopes, what fears, what contradictory conjectures!
—But all will too soon perhaps—Here he is come—Sir Charles Grandison is come—
O no!—A false alarm!—He is not come: It is only my Lord L. returned from an airing.
I could beat this girl! this Emily!—It was owing to her!—A chit!—How we have fluttered each other!—But send for me down to Northamptonshire, my dear friends, before I am quite a fool.
Pray—Do you know, Lucy, What is the business that calls Mr. Deane to town, at this season of the year? He has made a visit to Sir Charles Grandison: For Dr. Bartlett told me, as a grateful compliment, that Sir Charles was much pleased with him; yet Mr. Deane did not tell me, that he designed it. I beseech you, my dear friends—Do not—But you would not; you could not!—I would be torn in pieces: I would not accept of—I don't know what I would say. Only add not disgrace to distress.—But I am safe, if nothing be done but at the motion of my grandmamma and aunt Selby. They would not permit Mr. Deane, or any-body, to make improper visits.—But don't you think, that it must look particular to Sir Charles, to have a visit paid him by a man expressing for me so much undeserved tenderness and affection, so long after the affair was over which afforded him a motive for it?—I dread, as much for Mr. Dean's sake as my own, every-thing that may be construed into officiousness or particularity, by so nice a discerner. Does he not say, that no man is more quick-sighted than himself, to those faults in women which are owing to want of delicacy?
I have been very earnest with Lord and Lady L. and Miss Grandison, that they do not suffer their friendship for me to lay me under any difficulties with their brother. They all took my meaning, and promised to consult my punctilio, as well as my inclination. Miss Grandison was more kindly in earnest, in her assurances of this nature, than I was afraid she would be: And my Lord said, It was fit that I should find even niceness gratified, in this particular.
[I absolutely confide in you, Lucy, to place hooks where I forget to put them; and where, in your delicate mind, you think I ought to put them; that they may direct your eye (when you come to read out before my uncle) to omit those passages which very few men have delicacy or seriousness enough to be trusted with. Yet, a mighty piece of sagacity, to find out a girl of little more than Twenty, in Love, as it is called! and to make a jest of her for it!]—[But I am peevish, as well as saucy.—This also goes between hooks.]
Adieu, my Dear.
Volume III - lettera 17
Volume III - Letter 18
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO DR. BARTLETT.
Monday Night, Mar. 20.
I am very much dissatisfied with myself, my dear Dr. Bartlett. What pains have I taken, to conquer those sudden gusts of passion, to which, from my early youth, I have been subject, as you have often heard me confess! yet to find, at times, that I am unequal—to myself, shall I say?—To myself, I will say; since I have been so much amended by your precepts, and example. But I will give you the occasion.
My guests, and you, had but just left me, when the wretched Jervois, and her O’Hara, and another bullying man, desired to speak with me.
I bid the servant show the woman into the drawing-room next my study, and the men into the adjoining parlour; but they both followed her into the drawing room. I went to her, and, after a little stiff civility (I could not help it) asked, If these gentlemen had business with me?
That gentleman is Major O’Hara, Sir: He is my husband. That gentleman is Captain Salmonet: He is the Major's brother-in-law. He is an officer, of equal worth and bravery.
They gave themselves airs of importance and familiarity; and the Major motioned, as if he would have taken my hand.
I encouraged not the motion. Will you, gentlemen, walk this way?
I led the way to my study. The woman arose, and would have come with them.
If you please to stay where you are, madam, I will attend you presently.
They entered; and, as if they would have me think them connoisseurs, began to admire the globes, the orrery, the pictures, and busts.
I took off that sort of attention—Pray, gentlemen, what are your commands with me?
I am called Major O’Hara, Sir: I am the husband of the Lady in the next room, as she told you.
And what, pray, Sir, have I to do, either with you, or your marriage? I pay that Lady, as the widow of Mr. Jervois, 200l. a year: I am not obliged to pay her more then one. She has no demands upon me; much less has her husband.
The men had so much the air of bullies, and the woman is so very wicked, that my departed friend, and the name by which she so lately called the poor Emily, were in my head, and I had too little command of my temper.
Look ye, Sir Charles Grandison, I would have you to know—
And he put his left hand upon his sword-handle, pressing it down, which tilted up the point with an air extremely insolent.
What am I to understand by that motion, Sir?
Nothing at all, Sir Charles—D-n me, if I mean any thing by it—
You are called Major, you say, Sir—Do you bear the king's commission, Sir?
I have borne it, Sir, if I do not now.
That, and the house you are in, give you a title to civility. But, Sir, I cannot allow, that your marriage with the Lady in the next room gives you pretence to business with me. If you have, on any other account, pray let me know what it is?
The man seemed at a loss what to say; but not from bashfulness. He looked about him, as if for his woman; set his teeth; bit his lip; and took snuff, with an air so like defiance, that, for fear I should not be able to forbear taking notice of it, I turned to the other: Pray, Captain Salmonet, said I, what are your commands with me?
He spoke in broken English; and said, He had the honour to be Major O’Hara's brother: He had married the Major's sister.
And why, Sir, might you not have favoured me with the company of all your relations?—Have you any business with me, Sir, on your own account?
I come, I come, said he, to see my brother righted, Sir—
Who has wronged him?—Take care, gentlemen, how—But Mr. O’Hara, what are your pretensions?
Why look-ye, Sir Charles Grandison (throwing open his coat, and sticking one hand in his side, the other thrown out with a flourish) Look-ye, Sir, repeated he—
I found my choler rising. I was afraid of my self.
When I treat you familiarly, Sir, then treat me so: Till when, please to withdraw—
I rang: Frederick came in.
Show these gentleman into the little parlour—You will excuse me, Sirs; I attend the Lady.
They muttered, and gave themselves brisk and angry airs; nodding their heads at each other; but followed the servant into that parlour.
I went to Mrs. O’Hara, as she calls herself.
Well, madam, what is your business with me, now?
Where are the gentlemen, Sir? Where is my husband?
They are both in the next room, and within hearing of all that shall pass between you and me.
And do you hold them unworthy of your presence, Sir?
Not, madam, while you are before me, and if they had any business with me, or I with them.
Has not an husband business where his wife is?
Neither wife nor husband has business with me.
Yes, Sir, I am come to demand my daughter. I come to demand a mother's right.
I answer not to such a demand: You know you have no right to make it.
I have been at Colnebrooke: She was kept from me: My child was carried out of the house, that I might not see her.
And have you then terrified the poor girl?
I have left a Letter for her; and I expect to see her upon it.—Her new father, as worthy and as brave a man as yourself, Sir, longs to see her—
Her new father! madam—You expect to see her! madam—What was your behaviour to her? unnatural woman! the last time you saw her? But if you do see her, it must be in my presence, and without your man, if he form pretensions, on your account, that may give either her or me disturbance.
You are only, Sir, to take care of her fortune; so I am advised: I, as her mother, have the natural right over her person. The Chancery will give it to me.
Then seek your remedy in Chancery: Let me never hear of you again, but by the officers of that court.
I opened the door leading into the room where the two men were.
They are not officers, I dare say: Common men of the town, I doubt not, new-dressed for the occasion. O’Hara, as she calls him, is, probably, one of her temporary husbands, only.
Pray walk in, gentlemen, said I. This Lady intimates to me, that she will apply to Chancery against me. The Chancery, if she have any grievance, will be a proper recourse. She can have no business with me, after such a declaration—Much less can either of you.
And opening the drawing-room door that led to the hall, Frederick, said I, attend the lady and the gentlemen to their coach.
And I turned from them, to go into my study.
The Major, as he was called, asked me, with a fierce air, his hand on his sword, If this were treatment due to gentlemen?
This house, in which, however, you are an intruder, Sir, is your protection; or that motion, and that air, if you mean any-thing by either, would cost you dear.
I am, Sir, the protector of my wife: You have insulted her, Sir—
Have I insulted your wife, Sir?—And I stepped up to him; but just in time recovered myself, remembering where I was—Take care, Sir—But you are safe, here.—Frederick, wait upon the gentlemen to the door—
Frederick was not in hearing: The well-meaning man, apprehending consequences, went, it seems, into the offices, to get together some of his fellow-servants.
Salmonet, putting himself into violent motion, swore, that he would stand by his friend, his brother, to the last drop of his blood; and, in a posture of offence, drew his sword half way.
I wish, friend, said I, (but could hardly contain myself) that I were in your house, instead of your being in mine. —But if you would have your sword broken over your head, draw it quite.
He did, with a vapour. D—n him, he said, if he bore that! My own house, on such an insult as this, should not be my protection; and, retreating, he put himself into a posture of defence.
Now, Major! Now, Major! said the wicked woman.
Her Major also drew, making wretched grimaces.
I was dressed. I knew not but the men were assassins. I drew, put by Salmonet's sword, closed with him, disarmed him, and, by the same effort, laid him on the floor.
O’Hara, skipping about, as if he watched for an opportunity to make a push with safety to himself, lost his sword, by the usual trick whereby a man, anything skilled in his weapons, knows how sometimes to disarm a less skilful adversary.
The woman screamed, and ran into the hall.
I turned the two men, first one, then the other, out of the room, with a contempt that they deserved; and Frederick, Richard, and Jerry, who, by that time, were got together in the hall, a little too roughly perhaps, turned them into the Square.
They limped into the coach they came in: The woman, in terror, was already in it. When they were also in it, they cursed, swore, and threatened.
The pretended Captain, putting his body half-way out of the coach, bid my servants tell me, That I was—That I was—And avoiding a worse name, as it seemed No Gentleman; and that he would find an opportunity to make me repent the treatment I had given to men of honour, and to a Lady.
The Major, in eagerness to say something, by way of resentment and menace likewise—(beginning with damning his blood)—had his intended threatening cut short, by meeting the Captain's head with his, as the other, in a rage, withdrew it, after his speech to the servant: And each cursing the other, one rubbing his forehead, the other putting his hand to his head, away drove the coach.
They forgot to ask for their swords; and one of them left his hat behind him.
You cannot imagine, my dear Dr. Bartlett, how much this idle affair has disturbed me: I cannot forgive myself—To suffer myself to be provoked by two such men, to violate the sanction of my own house! Yet they came, no doubt, to bully and provoke me; or to lay a foundation for a demand, that they knew, if personally made, must do it.
My only excuse to myself is, That there were two of them; and that, tho' I drew, yet I had the command of myself so far as only to defend myself, when I might have done any thing with them. I have generally found, that those who are the readiest to give offence, are the unfittest, when brought to the test, to support their own insolence.
But my Emily! my poor Emily! How must she be terrified!—I will be with you very soon. Let not her know any-thing of this idle affair; nor any-body but Lord L.
I have just parted with one Blagrave, an attorney, who already had been ordered to proceed against me: But, out of regard to my character, and having, as he owned, no great opinion of his clients, he thought fit to come to me in person, to acquaint me of it, and to inform himself, from me, of the whole affair.
The gentleman's civility entitled him to expect an account of it: I gave it him.
He told me, That if I pleased to restore the swords and the hat, by him, and would promise not to stop the future quarterly payments of the 200 l. a year, about which they were very apprehensive; he dared to say, that, after such an exertion of spirit, as he called a choleric excess, I should not hear any more of them for one while; since, he believed, they had only been trying an experiment; which had been carried farther, he dared to say, than they had designed it should.
He hinted his opinion, that the men were common men of the town; and that they had never been honoured with commissions in any service.
The woman (I know not by what name to call her, since it is very probable, that she has not a real title to that of O’Hara) was taken out of the coach in violent hysterics, as O’Hara told him; who, in consulting Mr. Blagrave, may be supposed to aggravate matters, in order to lay a foundation for an action of damages.
She accused the men of cowardice, before Mr. Blagrave; and that in very opprobrious terms.
They excused themselves, as being loth to hurt me; which, they said, they easily could have done; especially before I drew.
They both pretended, to Mr. Blagrave, personal damages; but I hope their hurts are magnified.
I am (however that be) most hurt; for I am not at all pleased with myself. They, possibly, tho' they have no cause to be satisfied with their parts in the fray, have been more accustomed to such scuffles, than I; and are above, or rather beneath, all punctilio.
Mr. Blagrave took the swords and the hat with him in the coach that waited for him.
If I thought it would not have looked like a compromise, and encouraged their insolence, I could freely have sent them more than what belonged to hem. I am really greatly hurt by the part I acted to such men.
As to the annuity; I bid Mr. Blagrave tell the woman, that the payment of that, depended upon her future good behaviour; and yet, that I was not sure, that she was entitled to it, but as the widow of my friend.
However, I told this gentleman, That no provocation should hinder me from doing strict justice, tho' I were sure that they would go to law with the money I should cause to be paid to them quarterly. You will therefore know, Sir, added I, that the fund which they have to depend upon, to support a law-suit, should they commence one, and think fit to employ in it so honest a man as you seem to be, is 100 l. a year. It would be madness, if not injustice, to pay the other 100 l. for such a purpose, when it was left to my discretion to pay it, or not, with a view to discourage that litigious spirit which is one, of an hundred, of this poor woman's bad qualities.
And thus, for the present, stands this affair. I look upon my trouble from this woman as over, till some new scheme arises, either among these people, or from others whom she may consult or employ. You and I, when I have the happiness to attend you and my other friends, will not renew the subject.
I am, &c.
Volume III - lettera 18
Volume III - Letter 19
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Colnebrooke, Wedn. Mar. 22.
Sir Charles arrived this morning, just as we had assembled to breakfast; for Lady L. is not an early riser. The moment he entered, sunshine broke out in the countenance of every one.
He apologised to all, but me, for his long absence, especially when they had such a guest, were his words, bowing to me; and I thought he sighed, and looked with tender regard upon me; but I dared not ask Miss Grandison whether she saw any thing particular in his devoirs to me.
It was owing to his politeness, I presume, that he did not include me in his apologies; because that would have been to suppose, that I had expected him. Indeed I was not displeased, in the main, that he did not compliment me as a third sister. See, Lucy, what little circumstances a doubtful mind will sometimes dwell upon.
I was not pleased that he had been so long absent, and had my thoughts to myself upon it; inclining once to have gone back to London; and perhaps should, could I have fancied myself of importance enough to make him uneasy by it [The sex! the sex! Lucy, will my uncle say; but I pretend not to be above its little foibles]: But the moment I saw him, all my disgusts were over. After the Anderson, the Danby, the Lord W. affairs, he appeared to me in a much more shining light than an hero would have done, returning in a triumphal car covered with laurels, and dragging captive princes at its wheels. How much more glorious a character is that of The Friend of Mankind, than that of The Conqueror of Nations!
He told me, that he paid his compliments yesterday to Mr. and Mrs. Reeves. He mentioned Mr. Deane's visit to him; and said very kind, but just things in his praise. I read not any thing in his eyes, or manner, that gave me uneasiness on the visit that other good man made him.
My dear Emily sat generously uneasy, I saw, for the trouble she had been the cause of giving to her best friend, tho' she knew not of a visit, that her mother, and O’Hara, and Salmonet, made her guardian on Monday, as the doctor had hinted to us, without giving us particulars.
Sir Charles thanked me for my goodness, as he called it, in getting the good girl so happily out of her mother's way, as his Emily would have been too much terrified to see her: And he thanked Lord L. for his tenderness to his ward on that occasion.
My Lord gave him the Letter which Mrs. Jervois had left for her daughter. Sir Charles presented it to the young Lady, without looking into it: She instantly returned it to him, in a very graceful manner. We will read it together by-and-by, my Emily, said he. Dr. Bartlett tells me, there is tenderness in it.
The doctor made apologies to him, for having communicated to us some of his Letters—Whatever Dr. Bartlett does, said Sir Charles, must be right But what say my sisters to my proposal of correspondence with them?
We should be glad, replied Lady L. to see all you write to Dr. Bartlett; but could not undertake to write you Letter for Letter.
Miss Byron, said Miss Grandison, has put us quite out of heart as to the talent of narrative Letterwriting.
I should be greatly honoured with a sight of such Letters of Miss Byron as you, my Lord, have seen. Will Miss Byron, applying to me, favour one brother, and exclude another?
Brother! Lucy; I thought he was not at that time, quite so handsome a man as when he first entered the room.
I was silent, and blushed. I knew not what answer to make; yet thought I should say something.
May we, Sir Charles, said Miss Grandison, hope for a perusal of your Letters to Dr. Bartlett for the same number of weeks past, Letter for Letter, if we could prevail on Miss Byron to consent to the proposal?
Would Miss Byron consent, upon that condition?
What say you, Miss Byron, said my Lord?
I answered, that I could not presume to think, that the little chit-chat, which I wrote to please my partial friends in the country, could appear tolerable in the eye of Sir Charles Grandison.
They all answered with high encomiums on my pen; and Sir Charles, in the most respectful manner, insisting upon not being denied to see what Lord L. had perused; and Miss Grandison having said that I had, to oblige them, been favoured with the return of my Letters from the country; I thought it would look like a too meaning particularity, if I refused to oblige him, in the light (tho' not a very agreeable one, I own to you, Lucy) of another brother: I told him, that I would show him very willingly, and without condition, all the Letters I had written, of the narrative kind, from my first coming to London, down to the dreadful masquerade affair, and even Sir Hargrave's barbarous treatment of me, down to the deliverance he had so generously given me.
How did he extol me, for what he called my noble frankness of heart! In that grace, he said, I excelled all the women he had ever conversed with. He assured me, that he would not wish to see a line that I was not willing he should see; and that if he came to a word or passage that he could suppose would be of that nature, it should have no place in his memory.
Miss Grandison called out—But the condition, Sir Charles—
Is only this, replied I (I am sure of your candour, Sir); that you will correct me, where I am wrong, in any of my notions or sentiments. I have been very pert and forward in some of my Letters; particularly, in a dispute that was carried on in relation to Learning and Languages. If I could not, for improvement-sake, more heartily bespeak your correction than your approbation, I should be afraid of your eye there.
Excellent Miss Byron! Beauty shall not bribe me on your side, if I think you wrong in any point that you submit to my judgment: And if I am Beauty-proof, I am sure nothing on earth can bias me.
Miss Grandison said, she would number the Letters according to their dates, and then would give them to me, that I might make such conditions with her brother on the loan, as every one might be the better for.
Breakfast being over, Miss Grandison renewed the talk of the visit made here by Mrs. O’Hara on Sunday last. Miss Jervois very prettily expressed her grief for the trouble given her guardian by her unhappy mother. He drew her to him, as he sat, with looks of tenderness; and called her his dear Emily; and told her, she was the Child of his compassion. You are called upon, my dear, said he, young as you are, to a glorious trial; and hitherto you have shone in it: I wish the poor woman would be but half as much the mother, as you would be the child! But let us read her Letter.
His goodness overwhelmed her. He took her mother's Letter out of his pocket: She stood before him, drying her eyes, and endeavouring to suppress her emotion: And when he had unfolded the Letter, he put his arm round her waist. Surely, Lucy, he is the tenderest, as well as bravest of men! What would I give for a picture drawn but with half the life and love which shone out in his looks, as he cast his eyes, now on the Letter, and now up to his Emily!—Poor woman! said he, two or three times, as he read: And, when he had done, You must read it, my dear, said he; there is the mother in it: We will acknowledge the mother, wherever we can find her.
Why did not the dear girl throw her arms about his neck, just then?—She was ready to do so. O my best of guardians! said she; and, it was plain, was but just restrained, by virgin modesty, from doing so; her hands caught back, as it were, and resting for a moment on his shoulder: And she looked as much abashed, as if she had not checked herself.
I took more notice of this her grateful motion, than any-body else. I was affected with the beautiful check, and admired her for it.
And must I, Sir, would you have me, read it? I will retire to my chamber with it.
He arose, took her hand, and, coming with her to me, put it into mine: Be so good, madam, to fortify this worthy child's heart, by your prudence and judgment, while she reads the mother, in the only instance that I have ever known it visible in this unhappy woman.
He bowed, and gave me the Letter. I was proud of his compliment, and Emily and I withdrew into the next room; and there the good girl read the Letter, but it was long in reading; her tears often interrupting her: And more than once, as wanting a refuge, she threw her arms about my neck, in silent grief.
I called her twenty tender names; but I could not say much: What could I? The Letter in some places affected me. It was the Letter of a mother who seemed extremely sensible of hardships. Her guardian had promised observations upon it: I knew not then all the unhappy woman's wickedness: I knew not but the husband might be in some fault.—What could I say? I could not think of giving comfort to a daughter at the expense of even a bad mother.
Miss Grandison came to us: She kissed the sobbing girl, and with tenderness, calling us her two loves, led us into the next room.
Sir Charles, it seems, had owned, in our absence, that Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara, and Captain Salmonet, had made him a visit in town, on their return from Colnebrooke, and expressed himself to be vexed at his own behaviour to them.
Miss Jervois gave the Letter to her guardian, and went behind his chair, on the back of which she leaned, while he looked into the Letter, and made observations upon what he read, as nearly in the following words as I can remember.
An unhappy mother, whose faults have been barbarously aggravated —My Emily's father was an indulgent husband! He forgave this unhappy woman crimes, which very few men would have forgiven: She was the wife of his choice: He doted on her: His first forgiveness of an atrocious crime hardened her.
When he could not live with her, he removed from place to place, to avoid her: At last, afraid of her private machinations, which were of the blackest nature, he went abroad, in order to pursue that traffic in person, which he managed to great advantage by his agents and factors; having first, however, made an handsome provision for his wife.
Thither, after some time passed in riot and extravagance, she followed him.
I became acquainted with him at Florence. I found him to be a sensible and honest man; and every one whom he could serve, or assist, experienced his benevolence. Not a single soul who knew him, but loved him, this wife excepted.
She at that time insisted upon his giving up to her management, his beloved Emily; and solemnly promised reformation, on his compliance. She knew that the child would be a great fortune.
I was with Mr. Jervois, on her first visit to him at Leghorn; and, tho' I had heard her character to be very bad, was inclined to befriend her. She was specious. I hoped that a mother, whatever wife she made, could not out be a mother; and poor Mr. Jervois had not been forward to say the worst of her: But she did not long save appearances. The whole English factory at Leghorn were witnesses to her flagrant enormities. She was addicted to an excess that left her no guard, and made her a stranger to that grace which is the glory of a woman.
I am told, that she is less frequently intoxicated than heretofore. I should be glad of the least shadow of reformation in her. That odious vice led her into every other, and hardened her to a sense of shame. Other vices, perhaps, at first, wanted that to introduce them; but the most flagitious have been long habitual to her.
Nothing but the justice due to the character of my departed friend, could have induced me to say what I have said of this unhappy woman: Forgive me, my Emily. But shall I not defend your father?—I have not said the worst I could say of his wife.
Yet she writes, That her faults have been barbarously aggravated, in order to justify the ill usage of an husband, who, she says, was not faultless. Ill usage of an husband! Wretched woman! She knew I must see this Letter: How could she write thus? She knows that I have authentic proofs in my custody, of his unexceptionable goodness to her; and confessions, under her own hand, of her guilt, and ingratitude to him.
But, my Emily—and he arose, and took her hand, her face overwhelmed with tears, You may rejoice in your father's character: He was a good man, in every sense of the word. With regard to her, he had but one fault; and that was, his indulgence.—Shall I say, That after repeated elopements, after other men had cast her off, he took her back? When she had forfeited his love, his pity operated in her favour; and she was hardened enough to despise the man who could much more easily forgive than punish her. I am grieved to be obliged to say this; but repeat, that the memory of my friend must not be unjustly loaded. Would to heaven that I could suggest the shadow of a plea that would extenuate any part of her vileness, either respecting him or herself; let whose-soever character suffer by it, I would suggest it. How often has this worthy husband wept to me, for those faults of his wife, for which she could not be sorry!
I discourage not these tears, my Emily, on what you have heard me say; but let me now dry them up.
He took her own handkerchief, and tenderly wiped her cheeks: It is unnecessary, proceeded he, to say any-thing farther, at this time, in defence of your father's character; we come now to other parts of the Letter, that will not, I hope, be so affecting to the heart of a good child.
She insists upon your making her a visit, or receiving one from her: She longs, she says, to see you; to lay you in her bosom. She congratulates you, on your improvements: She very pathetically calls upon you, not to despise her—
My dear girl! You shall receive her visit: She shall name her place for it, provided I am present. I shall think it a sign of her amendment, if she is really capable of rejoicing in your improvements. I have always told you, that you must distinguish between the crime and the mother: The one is entitled to your pity; the other calls for your abhorrence—Do you choose, my dear, to see your mother?—I hope you do. Let not even the faulty have cause to complain of unkindness from us. There are faults that must be left to heaven to punish; and against the consequences of which, it behoves us only to guard, for our own sakes. I hope you are in a safe protection, and have nothing to fear from her: You are guarded, therefore. Can my Emily forget the terrors of the last interview, and calmly, in my presence, kneel to her mother?
Whatever you command me to do, I will do.
I would have you answer this Letter. Invite her to the house of your guardian—I think you should not go to her lodgings: Yet, if you incline to see her there, and she insists upon it, I will attend you.
But, Sir, must I own her husband for my father?
Leave that to me, my dear: Little things, punctilios, are not to be stood upon: Pride shall have no concern with us. But I must first be satisfied, that the man and she are actually married. Who knows, if they are, but his dependence on her annuity, and the protection she may hope for from him, may make it convenient to both, to live in a more creditable manner than hitherto she has aimed to do? If she save but appearances, for the future, it will be a point gained.
I will in every-thing, Sir, do as you would have me.
One thing, my dear, I think I will advise: If they are really married; if there be any prospect of their living tolerably together; you shall, if you please (your fortune is very large), make them an handsome present; and give hope, that it will be an annual one, if the man behave with civility to your mother. She complains, that she is made poor, and dependent. Poor if she be, it is her own fault: She brought not 200l. to your father. Ungrateful woman! he married her, as I hinted, for Love. With 200l. a year, well paid, she ought not to be poor; but dependent, she must be. Your father would have given her a larger annuity, had he not known, by experience, that it was but strengthening her hands to do mischief; and to enable her to be more riotous. I found a declaration of this kind among his papers, after his death. This his intention, if there could have been any hope of a good use to be made of it, justifies my advice to you, to enlarge her stipend: I will put it in such a way, that you, my dear, shall have the credit of it; and I will take upon myself the advice of restraining it to good behaviour, for their own sakes, and for yours.
O Sir! how good you are! You now give me courage to wish to see my poor mother, in hopes that it will be in my power to do her good: Continue to your Emily the blessing of your direction, and I shall be an happy girl indeed. O that my mother may be married! that so she may be entitled to the best you shall advise me to do for her.
I doubt, her man is a man of the town, added he; but he may have lived long enough to see his follies. She may be tired of the life she has led. I have made several efforts to do her service; but had no hope to reclaim her; I wish she may now be a wife in earnest. But this, I think, shall be my last effort—Write, my dear; but nothing of your intention. If she is not married, things must remain as they are.
She hastened up-stairs, and very soon returned, with the following lines.
I Beseech you to believe, that I am not wanting in duty to my mother. You rejoice my heart, when you tell me, that you love me. My guardian was so good, before I could have time to ask him, as to bid me write to you, and to let you know, that he will himself present me to you, whenever you please to favour me with an opportunity to pay my duty to you, at his house in St. James's Square.
Let me hope, my dear mamma, that you will not be so angry with your poor girl, as you was last time I saw you at Mrs. Lane's; and then I will see you with all the duty that a child owes to her mother. For I am, and will ever be,
Your dutiful Daughter,
Sir Charles generously scrupled the last paragraph. We will not, I think, Emily, said he, remind a mother, who has written such a Letter as that before us, of a behaviour that she should be glad to forget.
Miss Grandison desired it might stand. Who knows, says she, but it may make her ashamed of her outrageous behaviour at that time?
She deserves not generous usage, said Lady L.; she cannot feel it.
Perhaps not, replied Sir Charles; but we should do proper things, for our own sakes, whether the persons are capable of feeling them as they ought, or not. What say you, Miss Byron, to this last paragraph?
I was entirely in his way of thinking, and for the reason he gave; but the two Ladies having given their opinion in a pretty earnest manner, and my Lord saying he thought it might pass, I was afraid it would look like bespeaking his favour at their expense, if I adopted his sentiments: I therefore declined giving my opinion. But being willing to keep Emily in countenance, who sat suspended in her judgment, as one who feared she had done a wrong thing; I said, it was a very natural paragraph, I thought, from Miss Jervois's pen, as it was written, I dared to say, rather in apprehension of hard treatment, from what she remembered of the last, than in a spirit of recrimination or resentment.
The good girl declared, it was. Both Ladies, and my Lord, said, I had distinguished well: But Sir Charles, tho' he said no more upon the subject, looked upon each sister with meaning; which I wondered they did not observe. Dr. Bartlett was withdrawn, or I believe he would have had the honesty to speak out, which I had not: But the point was a point of delicacy and generosity; and I thought I should not seem to imagine that I understood it better than they: Nor did I think that Sir Charles would have acquiesced with their opinion.
Miss Jervois retired, to transcribe her letter. We all separated, to dress; and I, having soon made an alteration in mine, dropped in upon Dr. Bartlett in his closet.
I am stealing from this good man a little improvement in my geography: I am delighted with my tutor, and he professes to be pleased with his scholar; but sometimes more interesting articles slide in: But now he had just began to talk of Miss Jervois, as if he would have led, I thought, to the proposal hinted at by Miss Grandison, from the letter she had so clandestinely seen, of my taking her under my care, when Sir Charles entered the doctor's apartment. He would have withdrawn, when he saw me; but the doctor, rising from his chair, besought him to oblige us with his company.
I was silly: I did not expect to be caught there. But why was I silly on being found with Dr. Bartlett—But let me tell you, that I thought Sir Charles himself, at first, addressing me, seemed a little unprepared. You invited me in, doctor: Here I am. But if you were upon a subject that you do not pursue, I shall look upon myself as an intruder, and will withdraw.
We had just concluded one subject, and were beginning another—I had just mentioned Miss Jervois.
Is not Emily a good child, Miss Byron? said Sir Charles.
Indeed, Sir, she is.
We then had some general talk of the unhappy situation she is in from such a mother; and I thought some hints would have been given of his desire that she should accompany me down to Northamptonshire; and my heart throbbed, to think how it would be brought in, and how I should behave upon it: And the more, as I was not to be supposed to have so much as heard of such a designed proposal. What would it have done, had I been prevailed upon to read the letter? But not one word passed, leading to that subject.
I now begin to fear, that he has changed his mind, if that was his mind. Methinks I am more fond of having the good girl with us, than I imagined it was possible I ever could have been. What a different appearance have things to us, when they are out of our power, to what they had when we believed they were in it?
But I see not, that there is the least likelihood that any-thing, on which you had all set your hearts, can happen—I can't help it.
Emily, flattering girl! told me, she saw great signs of attachment to me in his eyes and behaviour; but I see no grounds for such a surmise: His affections are certainly engaged. God bless him, whatever his engagements are!—When he was absent, encouraged by his sisters and Lord L. I thought pretty well of myself; but, now he is present, I see so many excellencies shining out in his mind, in his air and address, that my humility gets the better of my ambition.
Ambition! did I say? Yes, ambition, Lucy. Is it not the nature of the passion we are so foolishly apt to call noble, to exalt the object, and to lower, if not to debase, one's self—You see how Lord W. depreciates me on the score of fortune. I was loth to take notice of that before, because I knew, that were slenderness of fortune the only difficulty, the partiality of all my friends for their Harriet would put them upon making efforts that I would sooner die than suffer to be made.
I forgot the manner in which Lord W.'s objection was permitted to go off—But I remember, Sir Charles made no attempt to answer it: And yet he tells my Lord, that fortune is not a principal article with him; and that he has an ample estate of his own. No question but a man's duties will rise with his opportunities. A man, therefore, may be as good with a less estate, as with a larger: And is not goodness the essential part of happiness? Be our station what it will, have we any concern but humbly to acquiesce in it, and fulfil our duties?
But who, for selfish considerations, can wish to circumscribe the power of this good man? The greater opportunities he has of doing good, the higher must be his enjoyment.—No, Lucy, do not let us flatter ourselves.
Sir Charles rejoices, on Sir Hargrave's having just now, by letter, suspended the appointment till next week, of his dining with him at his house on the forest.
Volume III - lettera 19
Volume III - Letter 20
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
I left Sir Charles with Dr. Bartlett. They would both have engaged me to stay longer; but I thought the Ladies would miss me, and think it particular to find me with him in the doctor's closet.
My Lord, and the two sisters, were together in the drawing-room adjoining to the library: On my entrance, Well, Harriet, said Miss Grandison, we will now endeavour to find out my brother: You must be present to yourself, and put in a word now-and-then. We shall see if Dr. Bartlett is right, when he says, that my brother is the most unreserved of men.
Just then came in Dr. Bartlett—I think, doctor, said Lady L. we will take your advice, and ask my brother all the questions in relation to his engagements abroad, that come into our heads.
She had not done speaking, when Sir Charles entered, and drew his chair next me; and just then I thought myself he looked upon me with equal benignity and respect.
Miss Grandison began with taking notice of the letter from which Dr. Bartlett, she said, had read some passages, of the happiness he had procured to Lord W. in ridding him of his woman. She wished, she told him, that she knew who was the Lady he had in his thoughts to commend to my Lord for a wife.
I will have a little talk with her before I name her, even to you, my Lord, and my sisters. I am sure my sisters will approve of their aunt, if she accept of my Lord for a husband: I shall pay my compliments to her, in my return from Grandison-hall.—Do you, Charlotte, choose to accompany me thither? I must, I think, be present at the opening of the church. I don't ask you, my Lord, nor you, Lady L. so short as my stay will be there. I purpose to go down on Friday next, and return the Tuesday following.
Miss Gr. I think, brother, I should wish to be excused. If, indeed, you would stay there a week or fortnight, I could like to attend you; and so, I dare say, would Lord and Lady L.
Sir Cha. I must be in town on Wednesday, next week; but you must stay the time you mention: You cannot pass it disagreeably in the neighbourhood of the Hall; and there you will find your cousin Grandison: He will gallant you from one neighbour to another: And, if I judge by your freedoms with him, you have a greater regard for him, than perhaps you know you have.
Miss Gr. Your servant, Sir, bowing—But I will take my revenge—Pray, Sir Charles, may I ask (we are all brothers and sisters)—
Sir Ch. Stop, Charlotte, (pleasantly). If you are going to ask any questions by way of revenge, I answer them not.
Miss Gr. Revenge!—Not revenge, neither—But when the Lord W. as by the passages Dr. Bartlett was so good as to read to us, proposed to you this Lady for a wife, and that Lady; your answers gave us apprehension that you are not inclined to marry—
Lady L. You are very unceremonious, Charlotte—
Indeed, Lucy, she made me tremble. Sure he can have no notion that I have seen the whole Letter—seen myself named in it.
Miss Gr. What signifies ceremony, among relations?
Sir Ch. Let Charlotte have her way.
Miss Gr. Why then, Sir, I would ask—Don't you intend one day to marry?
Sir. Ch. I do, Charlotte. I shall not think myself happy till I can obtain the hand of a worthy woman.
I was, I am afraid, Lucy, visibly affected: I knew not how to stay; yet it would have looked worse to go.
Miss Gr. Very well, Sir—And pray, Have you not, either abroad or at home, seen the woman you could wish to call yours?—Don't think me impertinent, brother.
Sir Ch. You cannot be impertinent, Charlotte. If you want to know any-thing of me, it pleases me best, when you come directly to the point.
Miss Gr. Well, then, if I cannot be impertinent; if you are best pleased when you are most freely treated; and if you are inclined to marry; pray why did you decline the proposals mentioned by Lord W. in behalf of Lady Francis N. of Lady Anne S. and I cannot tell how many more?
Sir Ch. The friends of the first-named Lady proceeded not generously with my father, in that affair. The whole family builds too much on the interest and title of her father. I wanted not to depend upon any public man: I chose, as much as possible, to fix my happiness within my own little circle. I have strong passions. I am not without ambition. Had I loosened the reins to the latter, young man as I am, my tranquillity would have been pinned to the feather in another man's cap. Does this satisfy you, Charlotte, as to Lady Frances?
Miss Gr. Why yes: And the easier, because there is a Lady whom I could have preferred to Lady Frances.
I should not, thought I, have been present at this conversation. Lord L. looked at me. Lord L. should not have looked at me: The Ladies did not.
Sir Ch. Who is she?
Miss Gr. Lady Anne S. you know, Sir—Pray, may I ask, why that could not be?
Sir Ch. Lady Anne is, I believe, a deserving woman; but her fortune must have been my principal inducement, had I made my addresses to her. I never yet went so low as to that alone, for an inducement to see a Lady three times.
Miss Gr. Then, Sir, you have made your addresses to Ladies—Abroad, I suppose?
Sir Ch. I thought, Charlotte, your curiosity extended only to the Ladies in England.
Miss Gr. Yes, Sir, it extends to Ladies in England and out of England, if any there be that have kept my brother a single man, when such offers have been made him as we think would have been unexceptionable: But you hint, then, Sir, that there are Ladies abroad—
Sir Ch. Take care, Charlotte, that you make as free a respondent, when it comes to your turn, as you are a questioner.
Miss Gr. By your answers to my questions, Sir, teach me how I am to answer yours, if you have any to make.
Sir Ch. Very well, Charlotte. Have I not answered satisfactorily your questions about the Ladies you named?
Miss Gr. Pretty well. But, Sir, have you not seen Ladies abroad whom you like better than either of those I have named?—Answer me to that.
Sir Ch. I have, Charlotte, and at home too.
Miss Gr. I don't know what to say to you—But, pray, Sir, Have you not seen Ladies abroad whom you have liked better than any you ever saw at home?
Sir Ch. No. But tell me, Charlotte, to what does all this tend?
Miss Gr. Only, brother, that we long to have you happily married; and we are afraid, that your declining this proposal and that, is owing to some previous attachment—And now all is out.
Lord L. And now, my dear brother, all is out—
Lady L. If our brother will gratify our curiosity—
Had I ever before, Lucy, so great a call upon me as now, for presence of mind?
Sir Charles sighed: He paused: And at last said—You are very generous, very kind, in your wishes to see me married. I have seen the Lady with whom, of all the women in the world, I think I could be happy.
A fine blush overspread his face, and he looked down. Why, Sir Charles, did you blush? Why did you look down? The happy, thrice happy woman, was not present, was she?—Ah, No! no! no!—
Sir Ch. And now, Charlotte, what other questions have you to ask, before it comes to your turn to answer some that I have to put to you?
Miss Gr. Only one.—Is the Lady a foreign Lady?
How every-body but I looked at him, expecting his answer!—He really hesitated. At last, I think, Charlotte, you will excuse me, if I say, that this question gives me some pain—Because it leads to another, that, if made, I cannot at present myself answer [But why so, Sir, thought I?]: And if not made, it cannot be of any signification to speak to this.
Lord L. We would not give you pain, Sir Charles; And yet—
Sir Ch. What yet, my dear Lord L.?
Lord L. When I was at Florence, there was much talk—
Sir Ch. Of a Lady of that city.—Olivia, my Lord!—There was.—She has fine qualities, but unhappily blended with others less approvable.—But I have nothing to wish for from Olivia: She has done me too much honour. I should not so readily have named her now, had she been more solicitous to conceal the distinction she honoured me with. But your Lordship, I dare hope, never heard even ill-will open its mouth to her disreputation, only that she descended too much in her regard for one object.
Lord L. Your character, Sir Charles, was as much to her reputation, as—
Sir Ch. (interrupting). O my Lord, how brotherly partial! But, this Lady out of the question, my peace has been broken in pieces by a tender fault in my constitution—And yet I would not be without it.
The sweet Emily arose, and, in tears, went to the window. A sob, endeavoured to be suppressed, called our attention to her.
Sir Charles went, and took her hand; Why weeps my Emily?
Because you, who so well deserve to be happy, seem not to be so.
Tender examples, Lucy, are catching: I had much ado to restrain my tears.
He kindly consoled her. My unhappiness, my dear, said he, arises chiefly from that of other people. I should but for that be happy in myself, because I endeavour to accommodate my mind to bear inevitable evils, and to make, if possible, a virtue of necessity: But, Charlotte, see how grave you have made us all! and yet I must enter with you upon a subject that possibly may be thought as serious by you, as that which, at present, I wish to quit.
"Wish to quit!" "The question gave him some pain, because it led to another, which he cannot himself at present, answer!"—What, Lucy, let me ask you, before I follow him to his next subject, can you gather from what passed in that already recited? If he is himself at an uncertainty, he may deserve to be pitied, and not blamed: But don't you think he might have answered, whether the Lady is a foreigner, or not?—How could he know what the next question would have been?
I had the assurance to ask Miss Grandison afterwards, aside, Whether any-thing could be made out, or guessed at, by his eyes, when he spoke of having seen the woman he could prefer to all others? For he sat next me; she over-against him.
I know not what to make of him, said she: But be the Lady native or foreigner, it is my humble opinion, that my brother is in love. He has all the symptoms of it, that I can guess by.
I am of Charlotte's opinion, Lucy. Such tender sentiments; such sweetness of manners; such gentleness of voice!—Love has certainly done all this for him: And the Lady, to be sure, is a foreigner. It would be strange if such a man should not have engaged his heart in the seven or eight years past; and those from Eighteen to Twenty-six or seven, the most susceptible of a man's life.
But what means he by saying, "His peace has been broken to pieces by a tender fault in his constitution?"—Compassion, I suppose, for some unhappy object.—I will soon return to town, and there prepare to throw myself into the arms of my dearest relations in Northamptonshire: I shall otherwise, perhaps, add to the number of those who have broken his peace.
But it is strange, methinks, that he could not have answered, Whether the Lady is a foreigner, or not.
Dr. Bartlett, you are mistaken: Sir Charles Grandison is not so very un-reserved a man as you said he was.
But Oh! my dear little flattering Emily, how could you tell me, that you watched his eyes, and saw them always kindly bent on me—Yes, perhaps, when you thought so, he was drawing comparisons to the advantage of his fair foreigner, from my less agreeable features!—
But this Olivia! Lucy. I want to know something more of her.
"Nothing," he says, to wish for from Olivia."
Poor Lady! Methinks I am very much inclined to pity her.
Well, but I will proceed now to his next subject. I wish I could find some faults in him. It is a cruel thing to be under a kind of necessity to be angry with a man whom we cannot blame: And yet, in the next conversation, you will see him angry. Don't you long Lucy, to see how Sir Charles Grandison will behave when he is angry?
Volume III - lettera 20
| indice letture JA | home page |