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Volume III - Letter 21
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Now, Charlotte, said he (as if he had fully answered the questions put to him—O these men!) let me ask you a question or two—I had a visit made me yesterday, by Lord G.. What, my dear, do you intend to do, with regard to him?—But perhaps, you would choose to withdraw with me, on this question.
Miss Gr. I wish I had made to you the same overture of withdrawing, Sir Charles, on the questions I put to you; I should have had more satisfaction given me, I fancy, than I can boast of, if I had.
Sir Ch. I will withdraw with you, if you please, and hear any other questions you have to put to me.
Miss Gr. You can put no questions to me, Sir, that I shall have any objection to answer before this company.
Sir Ch. You know my question, Charlotte.
Miss Gr. What would you advise me to do in that affair, brother?
Sir Ch. I have only one piece of advice to give you:—It is, That you will either encourage or discourage his address, if you know your own mind.
Miss Gr. I believe, brother, you want to get rid of me.
Sir Ch. Then you intend to encourage Lord G?
Miss Gr. Does that follow, Sir?
Sir Ch. Or you could not have supposed, that I wanted to part with you. But, come, Charlotte, let us retire. It is very difficult to get a direct answer to such questions as these, from Ladies, before company, tho' the company be ever so nearly related to them.
Miss Gr. I can answer, before this company, any questions that relate to Lord G.
Sir Ch. Then you don't intend to encourage him?
Miss Gr. I don't see how that follows, neither, from what I said.
Sir Ch. It does, very clearly. I am not an absolute stranger to the language of women, Charlotte.
Miss Gr. I thought my brother too polite to reflect upon the sex.
Sir Ch. Is it to reflect upon the sex, to say, that I am not an absolute stranger to their language?
Miss Gr. I protest, I think so, in the way you spoke it.
Sir Ch. Well, then, try if you cannot find a language to speak in, that may not be capable of such an interpretation.
Miss Gr. I am afraid you are displeased with me, brother. I will answer more directly.
Sir Ch. Do, my Charlotte: I have promised Lord G. to procure him an answer—
Miss Gr. Is the question he puts, Sir, a brief one—On, or off?
Sir Ch. Trust me, Charlotte: You may, even with your punctilio.
Miss Gr. Will you not advise me, Sir?
Sir Ch. I will—To pursue your inclination.
Miss Gr. Suppose, if I knew yours, that that would turn the scale?
Sir Ch. Is the balance even?
Miss Gr. I can't say that, neither.
Sir Ch. Then dismiss my Lord G.
Miss Gr. Indeed, brother, you are angry with me.
Sir Ch. (addressing himself to me) I am sure, Miss Byron, that I shall find, in such points as this, a very different sister in you, when I come to be favoured with the perusal of your Letters. Your cousin Reeves once said, That when you knew your own mind, you never kept any one in suspense.
Miss Gr. But I can't say that I know my mind, absolutely.
Sir Ch. That is another thing. I am silent. Only when you do, I shall take it for a favour, if you will communicate it to me for your service.
Miss Gr. I am among my best friends—Lord L. what is your advice? Sir Charles does not incline to give me his.
Sir Ch. It is owing to my regard to your own inclinations, and not to displeasure or petulance, that I do not.
Lord L. I have a very good opinion of Lord G. What is yours, my dear? to Lady L.
Lady L. I really think very well of my Lord G. What is yours, Miss Byron?
Harriet. I believe Miss Grandson must be the sole determiner, on this occasion. If she has no objection, I presume to think, that no one else can have any.
Miss Gr. Explain, explain, Harriet—
Sir Ch. Miss Byron answers as she always does: Penetration and prudence, with her, never quit company. If I have the honour to explain her sentiments in giving mine, take both as follow: My Lord G. is a good natured, mild man: He will make a woman happy, who has some share of prudence, tho' she has a still greater share of will. Charlotte is very lively: She loves her jest almost as well as she loves her friend—
Miss Gr. How, brother!
Sir Ch. And Lord G. will not stand in competition with her, in that respect: There should not be a rivalry in particular qualities, in marriage. I have known a poet commence an hatred to his wife, on her being complimented with making better verses than he. Let Charlotte agree upon those qualities in which she will allow her husband to excel; and he allow, in her, those she has a desire to monopolise; and all may do well.
Miss Gr. Then Lord G. must not be disputed with, I presume, were I to be his wife, on the subject of moths and butterflies.
Sir Ch. Yet Lord G. may give them up, when he has a more considerable trifle to amuse himself with. Pardon me, Charlotte—Are you not, as far as we have gone in this conversation, a pretty trifler?
Miss Gr. (bowing) Thank you, brother. The epithets pretty, and young, and little, are great qualifiers of harsh words.
Sir Ch. But do you like Sir Walter Watkyns better than Lord G.?
Miss Gr. I think not. He is not, I believe, so good-natured a man as the other.
Sir Ch. I am glad you make that distinction, Charlotte.
Miss Gr. You think it a necessary one in my case, I suppose, Sir?
Sir Ch. I have a Letter of his to answer. He is very urgent with me for my interest with you. I am to answer it. Will you tell me, my sister (giving her the Letter), what shall I say?
Miss Gr. (after perusing it) Why, ay, poor man! he is very much in love: But I should have some trouble to teach him to spell. And yet, they say, he has both French and Italian at his fingers ends.
She then began to pull in pieces the Letter.
Sir Ch. I will not permit that, Charlotte. Pray return me the Letter. No woman is entitled to ridicule a Lover whom she does not intend to encourage. If she has a good opinion of herself, she will pity him. Whether she has or not, if she wounds, she should heal. Sir Walter may address himself to an hundred women, who, for the sake of his gay appearance and good estate, will forgive him his indifferent spelling.
Miss Gr. The fluttering season is approaching. One wants now-and-then a dangling fellow or two after one in public: Perhaps I have not seen enough of either of these to determine which to choose. Will you not allow one, since neither of them have very striking merits, to behold them in different lights, in order to enable one's self to judge which is the most tolerable of the two? Or, whether a still more tolerable wretch may not offer?
She spoke this in her very archest manner, serious as the subject was; and seriously as her brother wished to know her inclinations.
Sir Charles turned to Lord L. and gravely said, I wonder how our cousin Everard is amusing himself, at this instant, at the Hall.
She was sensible of the intended rebuke, and asked him to forgive her.
Wit, my Lord, continued he, inattentive to the pardon she asked, is a dangerous weapon: But that species of it which cannot shine without a foil, is not a wit to be proud of. The Lady before me (what is her name?) and I, have been both under a mistake: I took her for my sister Charlotte: She took me for our cousin Everard.
Every one felt the severity. It seemed to pierce me, as if directed to me. So unusually severe from Sir Charles Grandison; and delivered with such serious unconcern in the manner; I would not, at that moment, have been Miss Grandison for the world.
She did not know which way to look. Lady L. (amiable woman!) felt it for her sister: Tears were in the eyes of both.
At last Miss Grandison arose. I will take away the impostor, Sir; and when I can rectify my mistake, and bring you back your sister, I hope you will receive her with your usual goodness.
My Charlotte! my Sister! (taking her hand) you must not be very angry with me. I love to feel the finer edge of your wit: But when I was bespeaking your attention upon a very serious subject; a subject that concerned the happiness of your future life, and, if yours, mine; and you could be able to say something that became only the mouth of an unprincipled woman to say; how could I forbear to wish that some other woman, and not my sister, had said it?—Times and occasions, my dear Charlotte!
No more, I beseech you, Sir: I am sensible of my folly. Let me retire.
I, Charlotte, will retire; don't you; but take the comfort your friends are disposed to give you. Emily, one word with you, my dear. She flew to him, and they went out together.
There, said Miss Grandison, has he taken the girl with him, to warn her against falling into my folly.
Dr. Bartlett retired in silence.
Lady L. expressed her concern for her sister; but said, Indeed, Charlotte, I was afraid you would carry the matter too far.
Lord L. blamed her. Indeed, sister, he bore with you a great while; and the affair was a serious one. He had engaged very seriously, and even from principle, in it. O Miss Byron! he will be delighted with you, when he comes to read your papers, and sees your treatment of the humble servants you resolved not to encourage.
Yes, yes, Harriet will shine, at my expense; but may she!—Since I have lost my brother's favour, I pray to heaven, that she may gain it: But he shall never again have reason to say, I take him for my cousin Everard. But was I very wicked, Harriet!—Deal fairly with me: Was I very wicked?
I thought you wrong all the way: I was afraid for you. But for what you last said, about encouraging men to dangle after you, and seeming to aim at making new conquests, I could have chidden you, had you not had your brother to hear it. Will you forgive me? (whispering her) They were the words of a very coquet, and the air was so arch!—Indeed, my Charlotte, you were very much out of the way.
So! Every-body against me!—I must have been wrong, indeed—
The time, the occasion, was wrong, sister Charlotte, said Lord L. Had the subject been of less weight, your brother would have passed it off as pleasantly as he has always before done your vivacities.
Very happy, replied she, to have such a character, that every-body must be in fault who differs from him, or offends him.
In the midst of his displeasure, Charlotte, said Lady L. he forgot not the brother. The subject, he told you concerned the happiness of your future life; and, if yours, his.
One remark, resumed Lord L. I must make, to Sir Charles's honour (take it not amiss, sister Charlotte): Not the least hint did he give of your error relating to a certain affair; and yet he must think of it, so lately as he has extricated you from it. His aim, evidently, is, to amend, not to wound.
I think, my Lord, retorted Miss Grandison, with a glow in her cheeks, you might have spared your remark. If the one brother did not recriminate, the other needed not to remind. My Lord, you have not my thanks for your remark.
This affected good Lady L. Pray, sister, blame not my Lord: You will lose my pity, if you do. Are not we four united in one cause? Surely, Charlotte, we are to speak our whole hearts to each other!
So! I have brought man and wife upon me now. Please the Lord I will be married, in hopes to have somebody on my side. But, Harriet, say, Am I wrong again?
I hope, my dear Miss Grandison, replied I, that what you said to my Lord, was in pleasantry: And, if so, the fault was, that you spoke it with too grave an air.
Well, well, let me take hold of your hand, my dear, to help me out of this new difficulty. I am dreadfully out of luck to-day. I am sorry I spoke not my pleasantry with a pleasant air—Yet were not you likewise guilty of the same fault, Lady L.? Did not you correct me with too grave an air?
I am very willing, returned Lady L. it should pass so: But, my dear, you must not, by your petulance, rob yourself of the sincerity of one of the best hearts in the world; looking with complacency at her Lord.
He bowed to her with an affectionate air.—Happy couple!
As I hope to live, said Miss Grandison, I thought you all pitied me, when Sir Charles laid so heavy an hand upon me: And so he seemed to think, by what he said at going out. How did you deceive me, all of you, by your eyes!
I do assure you, said my Lord, I did pity you: But had I not thought my sister in fault, I should not.
Your servant, my Lord. You are a nice distinguisher.
And a just one, Charlotte, rejoined Lady L.
No doubt of it, Lady L. and that was your motive too. I beseech you, let me not be deprived of your pity. I have yours also, Harriet, upon the same kind consideration.
Why now this archness becomes you, Charlotte, said I [I was willing it should pass so, Lucy]: This is pretty pleasantry.
It is a pretty specimen of Charlotte's penitence, said Lady L.
I was glad Lady L. spoke this with an air of good humour; but Miss Grandison withdrew upon it, not well pleased.
We heard her at her harpsichord, and we all joined her. Emily also was drawn to us, by the music. Tell me, my dear, said Miss Grandison to her (stopping), Have you not had all my faults laid before you, for your caution?
Indeed, madam, my guardian said but one word about you; and this was it: I love my sister: She has amiable qualities: We are none of us right at all times. You see, Emily, that I, in chiding her, spoke with a little too much petulance.
God for ever bless my brother! said Miss Grandison in a kind of rapture: But now his goodness makes my flippancy odious to myself—Sit down, my child, and play your Italian air.
This brought in Sir Charles. He entered with a look of serenity, as if nothing had passed to disturb him.
When Emily had done playing, and singing, Miss Grandison began to make apologies: But he said, Let us forget each other's failings, Charlotte.
Notice being given of dinner, Lord L. took my hand, and Sir Charles complaisantly led his sister Charlotte to her seat at the table; Lady L. being gone into the dining parlour before.
A most intolerable superiority!—I wish he would do something wrong; something cruel: If he would but bear malice, would but stiffen his air by resentment, it would be something. As a MAN, cannot he be lordly, and assuming, and where he is so much regarded, I may say feared, nod his imperial significance to his vassals about him?—Cannot he be imperious to servants, to show his displeasure with principals?—No! it is natural to him to be good and just. His whole aim, as my Lord observed, is, "to convince and amend; and not to wound or hurt."
After dinner, Miss Grandison put into my hands the parcel of my Letters which I had consented Sir Charles should see. Miss Byron, Sir, said she, will oblige you with the perusal of some of her Letters. You will in them see another sort of woman than your Charlotte. May I amend, and be but half as good!—When you have read them, you will say, Amen; and, if your prayer take place, will be satisfied with your sister.
He received them from me, standing up, bowing, and kissed the papers, with an air of gallantry that I thought greatly became him. [O the vanity of the girl! methinks my uncle says, at this place.] He put them in his pocket.
Without conditions, Harriet? said Miss Grandison. Except those of candour, yet correction, answered I. Again he bowed to me.
I don't know what to say to it, Lucy; but I think Sir Charles looks highly pleased to hear me praised; and the Ladies and my Lord miss no opportunity to say kind things of me. But could he not have answered Miss Grandison's question, Whether his favourite was a foreigner, or not?—Had any other question arisen afterwards, that he had not cared to answer, he could but have declined answering it, as he did that.
What a great deal of writing does the reciting of half an hour or an hour's conversation make, when there are three or four speakers in company; and one attempts to write what each says in the first person! I am amazed at the quantity, on looking back. But it will be so in narrative Letter-writing. Did not you, Lucy, write as long Letters, when you went with your brother to Paris?—I forget. Only this I remember, that I always was sorry when I came to the end of them. I am afraid it is quite otherwise with mine.
By the way, I am concerned that Lady D. is angry with me: Yet, methinks, she shows, by her anger, that she had a value for me. As to what you tell me, of Lord D.'s setting his heart on the proposed alliance; I am not so much concerned at that, because he never saw me: And had the affair been in his own power, 'tis likely he would not have been very solicitous about his success. Many a one, Lucy, I believe, has found an ardor, when repulsed, which they would never have known, had they succeeded.
Lady Betty, and Miss Clements, were so good as to make me a visit, this afternoon, in their way to Windsor, where they are to pass two or three days. They lamented my long absence from town; and Lady Betty kindly regretted for me, the many fine entertainments I had lost, both public and private, by my country excursion at this unpropitious season of the year, as she called it, shrugging her shoulders, as it in compassion for my rustic taste.
Good Lady! she knew not that I am in company that want not entertainments out of themselves. They have no time to kill, or to delude: On the contrary, our constant complaint is, that time flies too fast: And I am sure, for my part, I am forced to be a manager of it; since, between conversation and writing, I have not a moment to spare: And I never in my life devoted so sew hours to rest.
I have often wished for Miss Clements to be with us; and so I told her: Sir Charles spoke very handsomely of her, on occasion of Miss Grandison's saying, she was a plain, but good young woman. She is not a beauty, said he; but she has qualities that are more admired than mere beauty.
Would she not, asked Lady L. make a good wife for Lord W.? There is, said Sir Charles, too great a disparity in years. She has, and must have, too many hopes. My Lord W.'s wife will, probably, be confined six months, out of twelve, to a gouty man's chamber. She must therefore be one who has outlived half her hopes: She must have been acquainted with affliction, and known disappointment. She must consider her marriage with him, tho' as an act of condescension, yet partly as a preferment. Her tenderness will, by this means, be engaged; yet her dignity supported: and if she is not too much in years to bring my Lord an heir, he will then be the most grateful of men to her.
My dear Brother, said Miss Grandison, forgive me all my faults: Your actions, your sentiments, shall be the rule of mine!—But who can come up to you? The Danby's—Lord W.—
Any-body may, Charlotte, interrupted Sir Charles, who will be guided by the well-known rule of Doing to others, as you would they should do unto you. Were you in the situation of the Danby's, of Lord W. would you not wish to be done by, as I have done, and intend to do, by them? What must be those who, with hungry eyes, wait and wish for the death of a relation? May they not be compared to savages on the sea-shore, who look out impatiently for a wreck, in order to plunder and prey upon the spoils of the miserable? Lord W. has been long an unhappy man from want of principles: I shall rejoice, if I can be a means of convincing him, by his own experience, that he was in a wrong course, and of making his latter days happy. Would I not, in my decline, wish for a nephew that had the same notions? And can I expect such an one, if I set not the example?
Pretty soon after supper, Sir Charles left us; and Miss Grandison, seeing me in a reverie, said, I will lay my life, Harriet, you fancy my brother is gone up to read your Letters—Nay, you are in the right; for he whispered as much to me, before he withdrew. But do not be apprehensive, Harriet (for she saw me concerned); you have nothing to fear, I am sure.
Lady L. said, That her brother's notions and mine were exactly alike, on every subject: But yet, Lucy, when one knows one's cause to be under actual examination, one cannot but have some heartaches.—Yet why?—If his favourite woman is a foreigner, what signifies his opinion of my Letters—And yet it does: One would be willing to be well thought of by the worthy.
LA STORIA DI
Volume III - lettera 21
Volume III - Letter 22
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Thursday, Mar. 23.
We sat down early to breakfast this morning: Miss Grandison dismissed the attendants, as soon as Sir Charles entered the room.
He addressed himself to me, the moment he saw me: Admirable Miss Byron, said he, what an entertainment have your Letters given me, down to a certain period!—How, at, and after that, have they distressed me, for your sufferings from a Savage!—It is well for him, and perhaps for me, that I saw not sooner this latter part of your affecting story: I have read thro' the whole parcel.
He took it from his bosom, and, with a respectful air, presented it to me—Ten thousand thanks for the favour—I dare not hope for farther indulgence—Yet not to say, how desirous I am—But, forgive me—Think me not too great an encroacher—
I took them.
Surely, brother, said Miss Grandison, you cannot already have read the whole!
I have—I could not leave them—I sat up late—
And so, thought I, did your sister Harriet, Sir.
Well, brother, said Miss Grandison, and what are the faults?
Faults! Charlotte.—Such a noble heart! such an amiable frankness! No prudery! No coquetry! Yet so much, and so justly admired by as many as have had the happiness to approach her!—Then, turning to me, I adore, madam, the goodness, the greatness of your heart. Woman is the glory of all created existence:—But you, madam, are more than woman!
How I blushed! how I trembled! How, tho' so greatly flattered, was I delighted!
Is Miss Byron, in those Letters, all perfect, all faultless, all excellence, Sir Charles? asked Miss Grandison: Is there no—But I am sensible, tho' you have raised my envy, I assure you, that Miss Byron's is another sort of heart than your poor Charlotte's.
But I hope, Sir, said I, that you will correct—
You called upon me yesterday, interrupted he, to attend to the debate between you and Mr. Walden: I think I have something to observe upon that subject. I told you, that beauty should not bribe me. I have very few observations to make upon it.
Lady L. Will you give us, brother, your opinion, in writing, of what you have read? (Note: This subject is spoken to by Sir Charles, vol. 6)
Sir Ch. That would fill a volume: And it would be almost all panegyric.
How flattering—But this foreign Lady, Lucy!—
Lady L. began another subject.—
Pray, brother, said she, let me revive one of the topics of yesterday—Concerning Lord G. and Sir Walter Watkyns—And I hope you, Charlotte, will excuse me.
Miss Gr. If it can be revived, without reviving the memory of my flippant folly—Not else will I excuse you, Lady L. And, casting her eye bashfully round her, Dr. Bartlett withdrew; but as if he had business to do.
Lady L. Then let me manage this article for my sister. You said, brother, that you have engaged to give Lord G. either hope, or otherwise—
Sir Ch. Lord G. was very earnest with me for my interest with my sister. I, supposing that she is now absolutely disengaged, did undertake to let him know what room he had for hope, or if any; but told him, That I would not, by any means, endeavour to influence her.
Lady L. Charlotte is afraid, that you would not, of yourself, from displeasure, have revived the subject—Not that she values—
There she stopped.
Sir Ch. I might, at the time, be a little petulant: But I should have revived the subject, because I had engaged myself to procure an answer for an absent person, to a question that was of the highest importance to him: But, perhaps, I should have entered into the subject with Charlotte when we were alone.
Lady L. She can have no objection, I believe, to let all of us, who are present, know her mind, on this occasion.
Miss Gr. To be sure I have not.
Lady L. What signifies mincing the matter? I undertook, at her desire, to recall the subject, because you had seemed to interest yourself in it.
Sir Ch. I think I know as much of Charlotte's mind already, from what you have hinted, Lady L. as I ought to be inquisitive about.
Lady L. How so, brother? What have I said?
Sir Ch. What meant the words you stopped at—Not that she values? —Now, tho' I will not endeavour to lead her choice in behalf of a prince; yet would I be earnest to oppose her marriage with a man for whom she declaredly has no value.
Lady L. You are a little sudden upon me, Sir Charles.
Sir Ch. You must not think the words you stopped at, Lady L. slight words: Principle, and Charlotte's future happiness, and that of a worthy man, are concerned here. But perhaps you mean no more, than to give a little specimen of Lady-like pride in those words. It is a very hard matter for women, on such occasions as these, to be absolutely right.—Dear Miss Byron, bowing to me, excuse me—There is one Lady in the world that ought not, from what I have had the honour to see, on her own account, to take amiss my freedom with her sex, tho' she perhaps will on that of those she loves. But have I not some reason for what I say, when even Lady L. speaking for her sister on this concerning subject, cannot help throwing in a salvo for the pride of her sex?
Harriet. I doubt not, Sir, but Lady L. and Miss Grandison will explain themselves to your satisfaction.
Lady L. then called upon her sister.
Miss Gr. Why, as to value—and all that—To be sure—Lord G.—is not a man, that—(and she looked round her on each person)—that a woman—Hem!—that a woman—But, brother, I think you are a little too ready—to—to—A word and a blow, as the saying is, are two things.—Not that—And there she stopped.
Sir Ch. (smiling) O my dear Lord L.! What shall we say to these Not that's? Were I my cousin Everard, I am not sure but I should suppose, when Ladies were suspending unnecessarily, or with affectation, the happiness of the man they resolve to marry, that they were reflecting on themselves by an indirect acknowledgement of self-denial. —
Miss Gr. Good God! brother.
I was angry at him, in my mind. How came this good man, thought I, by such thoughts as these, of our sex? What, Lucy, could a woman do with such a man, were he to apply to her in courtship, whether she denied or accepted of him?
Sir Ch. You will consider, Lady L. that you and Charlotte have brought this upon yourselves. That I call female pride, which distinguishes not either time, company, or occasion. You will remember, that Lord G. is not here; we are all brothers and sisters: And why, Charlotte, do you approve of entering upon the subject in this company; yet come with your exceptions, as if Lord G. had his father present, or pleading for him? These Not that she values, and so-forth, are so like the dealings between petty chapmen and common buyers and sellers, that I love properly (observe that I say properly) to discourage them among persons of sense and honour. But come, Charlotte, enter into your own cause: You are an excellent pleader, on occasion. You know, or at least you ought to know, your own mind. I never am for encouraging agency (Lady L. excuse me—Will you give up yours?) where principals can be present.
Lady L. With all my heart. I stumbled at the very threshold. E'en, Charlotte, be your own advocate. The cause is on.
Miss Gr. Why, I don't know what to say.—My brother will be so peremptory, perhaps—
Sir Ch. A good sign for somebody—Don't you think so, madam? to me.—But the snail will draw in its horns, if the finger hastily touch it—Come, no good sign, perhaps, Charlotte.—I will not be peremptory. You shall be indulged, if you have not already been indulged enough, in all the pretty circumambages customary on these occasions.
Miss Gr. This is charming!—But pray, Sir, What is your advice, on this subject?
Sir Ch. In our former conversation upon it, I told you what I thought of my Lord's good-humour; what of your vivacity—Can you, Charlotte, were you the wife of Lord G. content yourself now-and-then to make him start, by the lancet-like delicacy of your wit, without going deeper than the skin? Without exposing him (and yourself for doing so) to the ridicule of others? Can you bear with his foibles, if he can bear with yours? And if the forbearance is greater on his side, than on yours, can you value him for it, and for his good-humour?
Miss Gr. Finely run off, upon my word!
Sir Ch. I am afraid only, that you will be able, Charlotte, to do what you will with him. I am sorry to have cause to say, that I have seen very good women who have not known how to bear indulgence!—Waller was not absolutely wrong, as to such, when he said, "that women were born to be controlled." If control is likely to be necessary, it will be with women of such charming spirits as you know whose, Charlotte, who will not confine to time and place their otherwise agreeable vivacities.
Miss Gr. Well, but, Sir, if it should chance to be so, and I were Lord G.'s upper servant; for control implies dominion; what a fine advantage would he have in a brother, who could direct him so well (tho' he might still, perhaps, be a bachelor) how to manage a wife so flippant!
Sir Ch. Bachelors, Charlotte, are close observers. It is not every married couple, if they were solicitous to have a bachelor marry, that should admit him into a very close intimacy with themselves.
Miss Gr. (archly) Pray, Lord L. Did we not once hear our cousin Everard make an observation of this nature?
Sir Ch. Fairly retorted, Charlotte!—But how came your cousin Everard to make this observation? I once heard you say, that he was but a common observer. Every married pair is not Lord and Lady L.
Miss Gr. Well, well, I believe married people must do as well as they can. But may I ask you, brother, Is it owing to such observations as those you have been making, that you are now a single man?
Sir Ch. A fair question from you, Charlotte. I answer, It is not.
Miss Gr. I should be glad, with all my heart, to know what is.
Sir Ch. When the subject comes fairly on the carpet, your curiosity may perhaps be gratified. But tell me, Do you intend that the subject you had engaged Lady L. to introduce, in relation to Lord G. and Sir Walter Watkyns, should be dismissed, at present? I mean not to be peremptory, Charlotte: Be not afraid to answer.
Miss Gr. Why that's kind. No, I can't say, that I do: And yet I frankly confess, that I had much rather ask, than answer questions. You know, Sir, that I have a wicked curiosity.
Sir Ch. Well, Charlotte, you will find me, wicked as you call it, very ready, at a proper time, to gratify it. To some things that you may want to know, in relation to my situation, you needed not now to have been a stranger, had I had the pleasure of being more with you, and had you yourself been as explicit as I would have wished you to be. But the crisis is at hand. When I am certain myself, you shall not be in doubt. I would not suppose, that my happiness is a matter of indifference to my sisters; and if it be not, I should be ungrateful, not to let them know everything I know, that is likely to affect it.
See! Lucy. What can be gathered from all this? But yet this speech has a noble sound with it: Don't you think it has? It is, I think, worthy of Sir Charles Grandison. But by what clouds does this sun seem to be obscured? He says, however, that the crisis is at hand —Solemn words, as they strike me. Ah Lucy!—But this is my prayer—May the crisis produce happiness to him, let who will be unhappy!
Miss Gr. You are always good, noble, uniform—Curiosity, get thee behind me, and lie still!—And yet, brother, like a favoured squirrel repulsed, I am afraid it will be soon upon my shoulder, if the crisis be suspended.
"Crisis is at hand," Lucy!—I cannot get over these words; and yet they make my heartache.
Sir Ch. But now, Charlotte, as to your two admirers—
Miss Gr. Why, Sir, methinks I would not be a petty-chapwoman if I could help it: And yet, What can I say?—I don't think highly of either of the men—But, pray now, what—Lady L. (affecting an audible whisper) Will you ask a question for me?—
Lady L. What is it, Charlotte?
Miss Gr. whispering (but still loud enough for every one to hear). What sort of a man is Beauchamp?
Lady L. Mad girl!—You heard the question, brother.
Miss Gr. No!—You did not hear it, Sir, if it will displease you. The whispers in conversation are no more to be heard, than the asides in a play.
Sir Ch. Both the one and the other are wrong, Charlotte. Whisperings in conversation are censurable, to a proverb: The asides, as you call them, and the soliloquies, in a play, however frequent, are very poor (because unnatural) shifts of bungling authors, to make their performances intelligible to the audience. But am I to have heard your whisper, Charlotte, or not?
Miss Gr. I think the man my brother so much esteems, must be worth an hundred of such as those we have just now heard named.
Sir Ch. Well, then, I am supposed to be answered, I presume, as to the two gentlemen. I will show you the Letter, when written, that I shall send to Sir Walter Watkyns. I shall see Lord G. I suppose, the moment he knows I am in town—
Miss Gr. The Lord bless me, brother!—Did you not say, you would not be peremptory?
Lord L. Very right. Pray, Sir Charles, don't let my sister part with the two, without being sure of a third.
Miss Gr. Pray, Lord L. do you be quiet: Your sister is in no hurry, I do assure you.
Sir Ch. The female drawback again, Lady L.—Not that she values.
Harriet. Well, but, Sir Charles, may I, without offence, repeat Miss Grandison's question in relation to Mr. Beauchamp?
Miss Gr. That's my dear creature!
Sir Ch. It is impossible that Miss Byron can give offence.—Mr. Beauchamp is an excellent young man; about Five-and-twenty, not more: He is brave, learned, sincere, cheerful; gentle in his manners, agreeable in his person. Has my good Miss Byron any farther questions to ask? Your frankness of heart, madam, entitles you to equal frankness. Not a question you can ask, but the answer shall be ready upon my lips.
Is the Lady, Sir, whom you could prefer to all others, a foreign or an English Lady?—Ah, Lucy! And do you think I asked him this question?—O no! but I had a mind to startle you. I could have asked it, I can tell you: And if it had been proper, it would have been the first of questions with me. Yet had not the answer been such as I had liked, perhaps I should not have been able to stay in company.
I only bowed, and I believe blushed with complacency, at the kind manner in which he spoke to me: Every one, by their eyes, took notice of it with pleasure.
Lady L. Well, brother, and what think you of the purport of Charlotte's question? Charlotte says, That she does not think highly of either of the other men.
Sir Ch. That at present, is all that concerns me to know. I will write to Sir Walter; I will let Lord G. know, that there is a man in the clouds that Charlotte waits for: That Ladies must not be easily won. Milton justifies you, in his account of the behaviour of your common grandmother, on the first interview between her and the man for whom she was created. Charming copiers! You, Miss Byron, are an exception. You know nothing of affectation. You—
Miss Gr. (unseasonably interrupting him) Pray, Sir, be pleased, since we are such fine copiers of the old lady you mentioned, to repeat the lines: I have no remembrance of them.
She heard me thus; and, tho' divinely brought,
Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth,
That wou'd he woo'd, and not unsought be won,
Wrought in her so, that seeing me, she turn'd.
I follow'd her. She what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approv'd
My pleaded reason—
I have looked for the passage, since, Lucy. He missed several lines.
Now, Charlotte, said Sir Charles, tho' these lines are a palpable accommodation to the future practice of daughters of the old lady, as you call her, and perhaps intended for an instruction to them, since it could not be a natural behaviour in Eve, who was divinely brought to be the wife of Adam, and it being in the state of innocence, could not be conscious of dishonour in receiving his address; yet, if you know what is meant by obsequious majesty, you had as good try for it: And as you are followed, and should not follow, approve of the pleaded reason of one or other of your admirers.
Miss Gr. After hearing the pleaded reason of both, should you not say? I have the choice of two; that had not Eve. But, hold! I had like to have been drawn in to be flippant, again; and then you would have enquired after my cousin Everard, and-so-forth, and been angry.
Sir Ch. Not now, Charlotte: We are now at play together. I see there is constitution in your fault. The subjects we are upon, courtship and marriage, cannot, I find, be talked seriously of by a Lady, before company. Shall I retire with you to solitude? Make a Lover's Camera Obscura for you? Or, could I place you upon the mossy bank of a purling stream, gliding thro' an enamelled mead; in such a scene, a now despised Lord G. or a Sir Walter, might find his account, sighing at your feet. No witnesses but the grazing herd, lowing love around you; the feathered songsters from an adjacent grove, contributing to harmonise and fan the lambent flame—
Miss Gr. (interrupting) Upon my word, brother, I knew you had travelled thro' Greece, but dreamt not that you had dwelt long in the fields of Ar-ca-dy! —But, one question let me ask you, concerning your friend Beauchamp—We women don't love to be slighted—Whether do you think him too good, or not good enough, for your sister?
Sir Ch. The friendship, Charlotte, that has for some years subsisted, and I hope will for ever subsist, between Mr. Beauchamp and me, wants not the tie of relation to strengthen it.
Lord L. Happy Beauchamp?
Sir Ch. Lord L himself is not dearer to me, brother, as I have the honour to call him, than my Beauchamp. It is one of my pleasures, my Lord, that I am assured you will love him, and he you.
Lord L. bowed, delighted; and if he did, his good Lady, you may be sure, partook of her Lord's delight. They are an happy pair! They want not sense; they have both fine understandings! But O! my Lucy, they are not the striking, dazzling qualities in men and women, that make happy, Good sense, and solid judgment, a natural complacency of temper, a desire of obliging, and an easiness to be obliged, procure the silent, the serene happiness, to which the fluttering, tumultuous, impetuous, fervors of passion can never contribute. Nothing violent can be lasting.
Miss Gr. Not that I value. —There, brother—You see, I am a borrower of Lady L.—
Lady L. Upon my honour, Charlotte, I believe you led me into those words; so don't say you borrowed them.
Sir Ch. Far be it from me to endeavour to cure women of affectation on such subjects as that which lately was before us—I don't know what is become of it (looking humorously round, as if he had lost something which he wanted to recover); but that, permit me, Ladies to say, may be an affectation in one company, that is but a necessary reserve in another—Charlotte has genius enough, I am sure, to vary her humour to the occasion; and, if she would give herself time for reflexion, to know when to be grave, when to be airy.
Miss Gr. I don't know that, brother: But let me say for Charlotte, that I believe you sometimes think better of her (as in the present case), sometimes worse, than she deserves. Charlotte has not much reflexion; she is apt to speak as the humour comes upon her, without considering much about the fit or the unfit. It is constitution, you know, brother; and she cannot easily cure it: But she will try.—Only, Sir, be so good as to let me have an answer to my last question, Whether you think your friend too good or not good enough? Because the answer will let me know what my brother thinks of me; and that, let me tell you, is of very high importance with me.
Sir Ch. You have no reason, Charlotte, to endeavour to come at this your end, by indirect or comparative means. Your brother loves you—
Miss Gr. With all my faults, Sir?—
Sir Ch. With all your faults, my dear; and I had almost said, for some of them. I love you for the pretty playfulness, on serious subjects, with which you puzzle yourself, and bewilder me: You see I follow your lead. As to the other part of your question (for I would always answer directly, when I can), my friend Beauchamp deserves the best of women. You are excellent in my eyes; but I have known two very worthy persons, who, taken separately, have been admired by every one who knew them, and who admired each other before marriage, yet not happy in it.
Miss Gr. Is it possible? To what could their unhappiness be owing?—Both, I suppose, continuing good?
Sir Ch. To an hundred almost nameless reasons—Too little consideration on one side; too much on the other: Diversions different: Too much abroad the man—Too much at home will sometimes have the same effect: Acquaintance approved by the one—Disapproved by the other: One liking the town; the other the country: Or either preferring town or country in different humours, or at different times of the year. Human nature, Charlotte—
Miss Gr. No more, no more, I beseech you, brother—Why this human nature, I believe, is a very vile thing! I think, Lady L. I won't marry at all.
Sir Ch. Some such trifles, as these I have enumerated, will be likely to make you, Charlotte, with all your excellencies, not so happy as I wish you to be. If you cannot have a man of whose understanding you have an higher opinion than of your own, you should think of one who is likely to allow to yours a superiority. If—
Miss Grandison interrupted him again: I wished she would not so often interrupt him: I wanted to find out his notions of our sex. I am afraid, with all his politeness, he thinks us poor creatures. But why should not the character of a good, a prudent woman, be as great as that of a good, a prudent man?
Miss Gr. Well, but, Sir; I suppose the gentleman abroad has more understanding than I have.
Sir Ch. A good deal will depend upon what you'll think of that: Not what I, or the world, will judge.
Miss Gr. But the judgment of us women generally goes with the world.
Sir Ch. Not generally, in matrimonial instances. A wife, in general, may allow of a husband's superior judgment; but in particular cases, and as they fall out one by one, the man may find it difficult, to have it allowed in any one instance:
Miss Gr. I think you said, Sir, that bachelors were close observers.
Sir Ch. We may in the sister, sometimes, see the wife. I admire you, myself, for your vivacity; but I am not sure that a husband would not think himself hurt by it, especially if it be true, as you say, "that Charlotte has not much reflexion, and is apt to speak as the humour comes upon her, without troubling herself about the fit or the unfit."
Miss Gr. O, Sir, what a memory you have! I hope that the man who is to call me his (that's the dialect, isn't it?) will not have half your memory.
Sir Ch. For his sake, or your own, do you hope this, Charlotte?
Miss Gr. Let me see—Why for both our sakes, I believe.
Sir Ch. You'll tell the man, in courtship, I hope, that all this liveliness is "constitution;" and "that you know not how to cure it."
Miss Gr. No, by no means, Sir: Let him in the mistress, as somebody else in the sister, guess at the wife, and take warning.
Sir Ch. Very well answered, Charlotte, in the play we are at; but I am willing to think highly of my sister's prudence, and that she will be happy, and make the man so, to whom she may think fit to give her hand at the altar. And now the question recurs, What shall I say to Lord G.? What to Sir Walter?
Miss Gr. Why I think you must make my compliments to Sir Walter, if you will be so good; and, after the example of my sister Harriet to the men she sends a grazing, very civilly tell him, he may break his heart as soon as he pleases; for that I cannot be his.
Sir Ch. Strange girl! But I wish not to lower this lively spirit—You will put your determination into English.
Miss Gr. In plain English, then, I can by no means think of encouraging the address of Sir Walter Watkyns.
Sir Ch. Well, And what shall I say to Lord G.?
Miss Gr. Why that's the thing!—I was afraid it would come to this—Why, Sir, you must tell him, I think—I profess I can't tell what—But, Sir, will you let me know what you would have me tell him?
Sir Ch. I will follow your lead as far as I can—Can you, do you think, love Lord G.?
Miss Gr. Love him! love Lord G.? What a question is that!—Why no! I verily believe, that I can't say that.
Sir. Ch. Can you esteem him?
Miss Gr. Esteem!—Why that's a quaint word, tho' a female one. I believe, if I were to marry the honest man, I could be civil to him, if he would be very complaisant, very observant, and all that—Pray, brother, don't, however, be angry with me.
Sir Ch. I will not, Charlotte, smiling. It is constitution, you say.—But if you cannot be more than civil; and if he is to be very observant; you'll make it your agreement with him, before you meet him at the altar, that he shall subscribe to the woman's part of the vow; and that you shall answer to the man's.
Miss Gr. A good thought, I believe! I'll consider of it. If I find, in courtship, the man will bear it, I may make the proposal.—Yet I don't know, but it will be as well to suppose the vow changed, without conditioning for it, as other good women do; and act accordingly. One would not begin with a singularity, for fear of putting the parson out. I heard an excellent Lady once advise a good wife, who, however, very little wanted it, to give the man a hearing, and never do any thing that he would wish to be done, except she chose to do it. If the man loves quiet, he'll be glad to compound.
Harriet. Nay now, Miss Grandison, you are much more severe upon your sex, and upon matrimony, than Sir Charles.
Sir Ch. Have I been severe upon either, my dear Miss Byron?
Harriet. Indeed I think so.
Sir Ch. I am sorry for it: I only intended to be just. See, Charlotte, what a censure, from goodness itself, you draw upon me!—But I am to give encouragement (am I?) to Lord G.?
Miss Gr. Do as you please, Sir.
Sir Ch. That is saying nothing. Is there a man in the world you prefer to Lord G.?
Miss Gr. In the world, Sir!—A very wide place, I profess.
Sir Ch. You know what I mean by it.
Miss Gr. Why no—Yes—No—What can I say to such a question?
Sir Ch. Help me, Lady L. You know, better than I, Charlotte's language: Help me to understand it.
Lady L. I believe, brother, you may let Lord G. know, that he will not be denied an audience, if he come—
Sir Ch. "Will not be denied an audience, if he come!" And this to Charlotte's brother! Women! Women! Women!—You, Miss Byron, I repeat with pleasure, are an exception—In your Letters and behaviour we see what a woman is, and what she ought to be—But I know, as you once told Sir Rowland Meredith, that you have too much greatness of mind, to accept of a compliment made you at the expense of your sex.—But my heart does you justice.
Lord L. See, however, brother Grandison, this excellence in the two sisters! You say, indeed, but just things in praise of Miss Byron; but they are more than women: For they enjoy that praise, and the acknowledged superiority of the only woman in Britain to whom they can be inferior.
Do you think I did not thank them both for compliments so high? I did.
You DID, Harriet?
Ah, Lucy! I had a mind to surprise you again. I did thank them; but it was in downcast silence, and by a glow in my cheeks, that was even painful to me to feel.
The sisters have since observed to me (flattering Ladies!) that their brother's eyes—But is it not strange, Lucy, that they did not ask him, in this long conversation, Whether his favourite of our sex is a foreigner, or not? If she be, what signifies the eye of pleasure cast upon your Harriet?
But be this as it may, you see, Lucy, that the communicating of my Letters to Lord L. and the two Ladies, and of some of them to their brother, has riveted the three first in my favour, and done me honour with Sir Charles Grandison.
But what do you think was Miss Grandison's address to me, on this agreeable occasion? You, my grandmamma, will love her again, I am sure, tho' she so lately incurred your displeasure.
Sweet and ever-amiable Harriet! said she; Sister! Friend! enjoy the just praises of two of the best of men!—You can enjoy them with equal modesty and dignity; and we can (What say you, Lady L.?) find our praise in the honour you do our sex, and in being allowed to be seconds to you.
And what do you think was the answer of Lady L. (generous woman!) to this call of her sister?
I can cheerfully, said she, subscribe to the visible superiority of my Harriet, as shown in all her Letters, as well as in her whole conduct: But then you, my Lord, and you, my brother, who in my eye are the first of men, must not let me have cause to dread, that your Caroline is sunk in yours.
I had hardly power to sit, yet had less to retire; as I had, for a moment, a thought to do. I am glad I did not attempt it: My return to company must have been awkward, and made me look particular. But, Lucy, what is in my Letters, to deserve all these fine speeches?—But my Lord and his sisters are my true friends, and zealous well-wishers: No fear that I shall be too proud, on this occasion. It is humbling enough to reflect, that the worthy three thought it all no more than necessary to establish me with somebody; and yet, after all, if there be a foreign Lady—What signify all these fine things?
But how (you will ask) did the brother acknowledge these generous speeches of his sisters and Lord L?—How? Why as he ought to do. He gave them for their generous goodness to their Harriet, in preference to themselves, such due praises, as more than restored them, in my eye, to the superiority they had so nobly given up.
Sir Charles afterwards addressed himself to me jointly with his sisters: I see, with great pleasure, said he, the happy understanding that there is between you three Ladies: It is a demonstration, to me, of surpassing goodness in you all. To express myself in the words of an ingenious man, to whose works your sex, and if yours, ours, are more obliged, than to those of any single man in the British world,
Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
Demand alliance, and in friendship burn.
The two sisters and your Harriet bowed as they sat.
Encouraged by this happy understanding among you, let me hope, proceeded he, that you, Miss Byron, will be so good as to inform your-self, and let me know, what I may certainly depend upon to be our Charlotte's inclinations with respect to the two gentlemen who court her favour; and whether there is any man that she can or does prefer to the most favoured of either of them. From you I shall not meet with the "Not that she values."—The depreciating indifferences, the affected slights, the female circumambages, if I may be allowed the words; the coldly expressed consent to visits not deserving to be discouraged, and perhaps not intended to be so, that I have had to encounter with in the past conversation. I have been exceedingly diverted with my sister's vivacity: But as the affair is of a very serious nature; as I would be extremely tender in my interposition, having really no choice but hers; and wanting only to know on whom that choice will fall, or whether on any man, at present; on your noble frankness I can rely; and Charlotte will open her mind to you: If not, she has very little profited by the example you have set her in the Letters you have permitted her to read.
He arose, bowed, and withdrew; Miss Grandison called after him, Brother, brother, brother—One word—Don't leave us—But he only kissed his hand to us at the door; and bowing, with a smiling air, left us looking at each other in a silence that held a few moments.
Volume III - lettera 22
Volume III - Letter 23
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Lord L. broke the silence. You are a delightful girl, Charlotte; but your brother has had a great deal of patience with you.
O my Lord, said she, if we women play our cards right, we shall be able to manage the best and wisest of you all, as we please. It is but persevering; and you men, if not out-argued, may be out-teased. —But, Harriet—upon my word—The game seems to be all in your own hands.
We want but my brother to be among us, said Lady L. Beauty would soon find its power: And such a mind—And then they complimented me, that their brother and I were born for each other.
Miss Grandison told us all three her thoughts, in relation to the alliance with Lord G. She said, she was glad that her brother had proposed to know her mind from me. Something, Harriet, said she, may arise in the tête-à-tête conversation, that may let us into a little of his own.
But shall I trust myself with him alone, Lucy?
Indeed I am afraid of him, of my-self, rather. My own concerns so much in my head, I wish I don't confound them with Miss Grandison's. A fine piece of work shall I make of it, if I do. If I get it so happily over, as not to be dissatisfied with my self, for my part in it, I shall think I have had a deliverance.
But, Lucy, if all these distinctions paid me in this conversation, and all this confidence placed in me, produce nothing—If—Why, what if? In one word, Should this if be more than if —Why then it will go the harder, that's all, with your Harriet, than if she had not been so much distinguished.
At afternoon-tea, the Danby's being mentioned, Lord L. asked Sir Charles, What was the danger from which he relieved their uncle? And we all joining in requesting particulars he gave the following, which I will endeavour to repeat, as near as possible, in his own words. My heart interested itself in the relation.
'Mr. Danby, said he, was a merchant of equal eminence and integrity: He was settled at Cambray: He had great dealings in the manufactures of cambrics and lace. His brother John, a very profligate man, had demanded of him, and took it ill that he denied him, a thousand guineas; for no better reason, but because he had generously given that sum to each of the wicked man's children. Surely, he pleaded, he was as nearly related to his brother as were those his children. No plea is too weak for folly and self-interest to insist upon. Yet my Mr. Danby had often given this brother large sums, which he squandered away almost as soon as he received them.
'My father used to make remittances to Mr. Danby, for my use: for his dealings in other branches of commerce extended to the south of France and Italy: This brought me acquainted with him.
'He took a great liking to me. I saw him first at Lyons; and he engaged me to visit him at Cambray, whenever I should go to Paris or Flanders.
'Accompanying a friend, soon after, to Paris, I performed my promise.
'He had a villa in the Cambresis, at a small distance from the city, which he sometimes called his cottage, at others his dormitory. It was a little lone house: He valued it for its elegance. Thither, after I had passed two days with him at his house in the city, he carried me.
'His brother, enraged at being refused the sum he had so unreasonably demanded, formed a plot to get possession of his whole fortune. My Mr. Danby was a bachelor, and, it was known, had, to that time, an aversion to the thought of making his will.
'The wretch, in short, hired three ruffians to murder him. The attempt was to be made in this little house, that the fact might have the appearance of being perpetrated by robbers; and the cabinets in the bed-chamber, if there were time for it, after the horrid fact was perpetrated, were to be broken open, and rifled, in order to give credit to that appearance. The villains were each to be rewarded with a thousand crowns, payable on the wicked man's getting possession of his brother's fortune; and they had fifty crowns apiece paid them in hand. Their unnatural employer waited the event at Calais, tho' he told them he should be at Dunkirk.
'I had one servant with me, who lay with a manservant of Mr. Danby in a little room over the stable, about an hundred yards from the house. There were only conveniences in the house for Mr. Danby and a friend, besides two women servants in the upper part of it.
'About midnight I was alarmed by a noise, as of violence used at the window of Mr. Danby's room. Mine communicated with his. The fastening of the door was a spring-lock, the key of which was on my side.
'I slipped on my cloths in an instant, and, drawing my sword, rushed into the next room, just as one villain, with a large knife in his hand, had seized the throat of Mr. Danby, who, till then, was in a sound sleep. The skin of his neck, and one hand listed up to defend himself, were slightly wounded before I ran the ruffian into the shoulder, as I did with my sword, and in the same moment disarmed him, and threw him, with violence from the bed, against the door. He roared out, that he was a dead man.
'A second fellow had got up to the window, and was half in: He called out, to a third below, to hasten up after him on a ladder, which was generally left in an outhouse near the little garden.
'I hastened to this second fellow, who then fired a pistol, but happily missed me; and who, feeling my sword's point in his arm, threw himself, with a little of my help, out of the window, upon the third fellow, who was mounting the ladder, and knocked him off: And then both made their escape by the way they came.
'The fellow within had fainted, and lay weltering in his blood.
'By this time, the two women-servants had let in our men, who had been alarmed by the report of the pistol, and by the report of the pistol, and by the screams of the women from their window; for they ventured not out of their chamber till they were called upon for entrance, by their fellow-servant from below.
'The two footmen, by my direction, bound up the ruffian's shoulder: They dragged him down into the hall: He soon came to himself, and offered to make an ample confession.
'Poor Mr. Danby had crept into my room, and in a corner of it had fainted away. We recovered him with difficulty.
'The fellow confessed, before a magistrate, the whole villainy, and who set him at work: The other two, being disabled by their bruises from flying far, were apprehended next day. The vile brother was sent after to Dunkirk, according to the intelligence given of him by the fellows; but he having informed himself of what had happened, got over from Calais to Dover.
'The wounded man, having lost much blood, recovered not. They were all three ordered to be executed; but, being interceded for, the surviving villains were sent to the galleys.
'It seems they knew nothing of Mr. Danby's having a guest with him: If they had, they owned they would have made their attempt another night.'
We were about to deliver our sentiments on this extraordinary event, when Sir Charles, turning to Lady L. Let me ask you, said he, the servant being withdrawn, Has Charlotte found out her own mind?
Yes, yes, Sir; I believe she has opened all her heart to Miss Byron.
Then I shall know more of it in ten minutes, than Charlotte would let me know in as many hours.
Stand by, every-body, said the humorous Lady—Let me get up, and make my brother one of my best curtsies.
Sir Charles was just then called out to a messenger, who brought him Letters from town. He returned to us, his complexion heightened, and a little discomposed.
I intended, madam, said he, to me, to have craved the honour of your company for half an hour in my Lord's library, on the subject we were talking of: But these Letters require my immediate attention. The messenger must return with my answer to two of them, early in the morning. You will have the goodness, looking round him, to dispense with my attendance on you at supper. But perhaps, madam, to me, you will be so good, as, in one word, to say, No, or Yes, for Charlotte.
Miss Gr. What, Sir to be given up without a preface!—I beg your pardon. Less than ten words shall not do, I assure you, tho' from my sister Harriet.
Sir Ch. Who given up, Charlotte? yourself? If so, I have my answer.
Miss Gr. Or Lord G.—I have not said which. Would you have my poor Lord rejected by a slighting monosyllable only?
Lady L. Mad girl!
Miss Gr. Why, Lady L. don't you see that Sir Charles wants to take me by implication? But my Lord G. is neither so soon lost, nor Charlotte so easily won. Harriet, if you would give up yourself at a first question, then I will excuse you if you give up me as easily, but not else.
Harriet. If Sir Charles thinks a conference upon the subject unnecessary—Pray don't let us give him the trouble of holding one. His time, you see, is very precious.
Can you guess, Lucy, at the humour I was in when I said this?—If you think it was a very good one, you are mistaken; yet I was sorry for it afterwards. Foolish self-betrayer! Why should I seem to wish for a conference with him? But that was not all—To be petulant with such a one, when his heart was distressed; for so it proved: But he was too polite, too great, shall I say? to take notice of my petulance. How little does it make me in my own eyes!
Had I, said he, ever so easily obtained a knowledge of my sister's mind, I should not have known how to depend upon it, were it not strengthened, madam, from your lips. The conference, therefore, which you gave me hopes you would favour me with, would have been absolutely necessary. I hope Miss Byron will allow me to invite her to it to-morrow morning. The intended subject of it is a very serious one with me. My sister's happiness, and that of a man not unworthy, are concerned in it, lightly as Charlotte has hitherto treated it. He bowed and was going.
Miss Gr. Nay, pray, brother—You must not leave me in anger.
Sir Ch. I do not, Charlotte. I had rather bear with you, than you should with me. I see you cannot help it. A lively heart is a great blessing. Indulge it. Now is your time.
Dear doctor, said Miss Grandison, when Sir Charles was gone out, What can be the meaning of my brother's gravity? It alarms me.
Dr. B. If goodness, madam, would make an heart lively, Sir Charles's would be as lively as your own; but you might have perceived by his air, when he entered, that the letters brought him affected him too much to permit him to laugh off a light answer to a serious question.
Miss Gr. Dear doctor!—But I do now recollect, that he entered with some little discomposure on his countenance. How could I be so inattentive?
Harriet. And I, too, I doubt, was a little captious.
Dr. B. A very little. Pardon me, madam.
Just then came in the excellent man.
Dr. Bartlett, I could wish to ask you one question, said he.
Miss Gr. You are angry with me brother.
Sir Ch. No, my dear!—But I am afraid I withdrew with too grave an air. I have been a thousand times pleased with you, Charlotte, to one time displeased; and when I have been the latter, you have always known it: I had something in my hand that ruffled me a little. But how could patience be patience, if it were not tried? I wanted to say a few words to my good Dr. Bartlett: And, to say truth, being conscious that I had departed a little abruptly, I could not be easy till I apologised in person for it; therefore came to ask the favour of the doctor's advice, rather than request it by message.
The doctor and he withdrew together.
In these small instances, said my Lord, are the characters of the heart displayed, far more than in greater. What excellence shines out in full lustre, on this unaffected and seemingly little occasion! Fear of offending; of giving uneasiness; solicitude to remove doubts; patience recommended in one short sentence, more forcibly than some would have done it in a long discourse, as well as by example; censuring himself, not from a consciousness of being wrong, but of being taken wrong. Ah! my dear sister Charlotte, we should all edify by such an example—But I say no more.
Miss Gr. And have you nothing to say, Harriet?
Harriet. Very little, since I have been much to blame myself: Yet let me remind my Charlotte, that her brother was displeased with her yesterday, for treating too lightly a subject he had engaged in seriously; and that he has been forced to refer to her friend, rather than to herself, to help him to the knowledge of her mind. O Charlotte! regret you not the occasion given for the expedient? And do you not [Yes, I see you do] blush for giving it? Yet to see him come voluntarily back, when he had left us in a grave humour, for fear the babies should think him angry with them; O how great is he! and how little are we!
Miss Gr. Your servant, sister Harriet!—You have made a dainty speech, I think: But, great and good as my brother is, we know how it comes to pass, that your pretty imagination is always at work to aggrandise the man, and to lower the babies!
Harriet. I will not say another word on the subject. You are not generous, Charlotte.
She took my hand: Forgive me, my dear—I touch'd too tender a string. Then turning to Miss Jervois, and with the other hand taking hers, Why twinkles thus my girl?—I charge you, Emily, tell me all you think.
I am thinking, said she, that my guardian is not happy. To see him bear with every-body; to have him keep all his troubles to himself, because he would not afflict any-body, and yet study to lighten and remove the troubles of every-body else—Did he not say, that he should be happy, but for the unhappiness of other people?
Excellent young creature! said Miss Grandison: I love you every day better and better. For the future, my dear, do not retire, whatever subjects we talk of. I see, that we may confide in your discretion. But well as you love your guardian, say nothing to him of what women talk to women. My Lord L. is an exception, in this case: He is one of us.
Harriet. O Miss Grandison! what a mix'd character is yours! How good you can be, when you please! and how naughty!
Miss Gr. Well, and you like me, just now?—That's the beauty of it; to offend and make up, at pleasure. Old Terence was a shrewd man: The falling out of Lovers, says he (as Lord L. once quoted him), is the renewal of Love. Are we not now better friends, than if we had never differed? And do you think that I will not, if I marry, exercise my husband's patience now-and-then for this very purpose?—Let me alone, Harriet: Now a quarrel; now a reconciliation; I warrant I shall be happier than any of the yawning see-saws in the kingdom. Everlasting summers would be a grievance.
Harriet. You may be right, if you are exceeding discreet in your perversenesses, Charlotte; and yet if you are, you will not lay out for a quarrel, I fancy. The world, or you will have better luck than your brother seems to have had, will find you opportunities enow, for exercising the tempers of both, without your needing to study for occasions.
Miss Gr. Study for them, Harriet! I sha'n't study for them, neither: They will come of course.
Harriet. I was about to ask a question—But 'tis better let alone.
Miss Gr. I will have it. What was your question? Don't you see what a good-natured fool I am? You may say any-thing to me: I won't be angry.
Harriet. I was going to ask you, If you were ever concerned two hours together, for any fault you ever committed in your life?
Miss Gr. Yes, yes, yes; and for two-and-twenty hours: For sometimes the inconveniencies that followed my errors, were not presently over, as in a certain case, which I'll be hang'd if you have not in your head, with that fly leer that shows the rogue in your heart: But when I got rid of consequences, no bird in spring was ever more blithe. I carolled away every care at my harpsichord.—But Emily will think me mad—Remember, child, that Miss Byron is the woman by whose mind you are to form yours: Never regard me, when she is in company.—But now (and she whimsically arose, and opened the door, and saying Begone, shut it, and coming to her place) I have turned my folly out of door.
Friday morn. seven o'clock.
I have written for these two days passed at every opportunity, and, for the two nights, hardly knowing what sleepiness was; two hours, each night, have contented me. I wonder whether I shall be summoned by-and-by to the proposed conference; but I am equally sorry and apprehensive, on occasion of the Letters which have given Sir Charles Grandison so much anxiety: Foreign Letters, I doubt not!—I wish this ugly word foreign were blotted out of my vocabulary; out of my memory, rather. I never, till of late, was so narrow-hearted—But that I have said before, twenty times.
I have written—How many sheets of paper—A monstrous Letter—Packet, rather. I will begin a new one, with what shall offer this day. Adieu, till by and by, my Lucy.
Volume III - lettera 23
Volume III - Letter 24
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Friday, March 24.
The conference, the impatiently expected conference, my Lucy, is over: And what is the result?—Take the account of it, as it was brought on, proceeded with, and concluded. Miss Grandison and her Lovers were not our only subjects. I will soon be with you, my dear.—But I'll try to be as minute as I used to be, notwithstanding.
You shall hear, Lucy.
Sir Charles gave us his company at breakfast. He entered with a kind of benign solemnity in his countenance, but the benignity increased, and the solemnity went off, after a little while.
My Lord said, he was very sorry that he had met with any-thing to disturb him, in the Letters that were brought him yesterday. Emily joined by her eyes; tho' not in speech, her concern with his Lordship's: Miss Grandison was sedately serious: Lady L. had expectation in her fine face; and Dr. Bartlett sat like a man that was determined to be silent. I had apprehension, and hope, I suppose, struggling in mine, as I knew not whether to wish for the expected conference, or not; my cheeks, as I felt, in a glow.
Let us think of nothing, my Lord, in this company, said he, but what is agreeable.
He enquired kindly of my health and last night's rest, because of a slight cold that had affected my voice: Of Emily, Why she was so sad? Of Lady L. and my Lord, When they went to town? Of Miss Grandison, Why she looked so meditatingly? that was his word—Don't you see, Miss Byron, said he, that Charlotte looks as if she had not quite settled the humour she intends to be in for the next half-hour?
Charlotte looks, I believe, Sir, replied she, as if she were determined to take her humour for the next half-hour from yours, whether grave, or airy.
Then, returned he, I will not be grave, because I will not have you so.—May I hope, madam, by-and-by, addressing himself to me, for the honour of your hand, to my Lord's library?
Sir, I will—I will—attend you—hesitated the simpleton, but she can't tell how she looked.
Thus, Lucy, was the matter brought on.
He conducted me to my Lord's library.—How did I struggle with myself for presence of mind! What a mixture was there of tenderness and respect, in his countenance and air!
He seated me; then took his place over-against me. I believe I looked down, and conscious, and silly; but there was such a respectful modesty in his looks, that one could not be uneasy at being now and then with an air of languor, as I thought, contemplated by him: Especially as, whenever I reared my eye-lids to cast a momentary look at him as he spoke, I was always sure to see his eye withdrawn: This gave more freedom to mine, than it possibly otherwise could have had. What a bold creature, Lucy, ought she to be, who prefers a bold man! If she be not bold, how silly must she look under his staring confident eye! How must her want of courage add to his! and, of course, to his self-consequence!
Thus he began the subject we were to talk of.
I will make no apology for requesting the favour of this conference with one of the most frank and open-hearted young Ladies in the world: I shall have the honour, perhaps, of detaining your ear on more than one subject [How my heart throbbed!] But that which I shall begin with, relates to my Lord G. and our sister Charlotte. I observe, from hints thrown out by herself, as well as from what Lady L. said, that she intends to encourage his addresses; but it is easy to see, that she thinks but slightly of him. I am indeed apprehensive, that she is rather induced to favour my Lord, from an opinion that he has my interest and good wishes, than from her own inclination. I have told her, more than once, that her's are, and shall be, mine: But such is her vivacity, that it is very difficult for me to know her real mind. I take it for granted, that she prefers my Lord to Sir Walter.
I believe, Sir—But why should I say believe, when Miss Grandison has commissioned me to own, that Lord G. is a man whom she greatly prefers to Sir Walter Watkyns.
Does she, can she, do you think, madam, prefer Lord G. not only to Sir Walter, but to all the men whom she at present knows? In other words, Is there any man that you think she would prefer to Lord G.? I am extremely solicitous for my sister's happiness; and the more, because of her vivacity, which, I am afraid, will be thought less to become the wife, than the single woman.
I dare say, Sir, that if Miss Grandison thought of any other man in preference to Lord G. she would not encourage his addresses, upon any account.
I don't expect, madam, that a woman of Charlotte's spirit and vivacity, who has been disappointed by a failure of supposed merit in her first Love (if we may so call it), should be deeply in love with a man that has not very striking qualities. She can play with a flame now, and not burn her fingers. Lord G. is a worthy, tho' not a very brilliant man. Ladies have eyes; and the eye expects to be gratified. Hence men of appearance succeed often, where men of intrinsic merit fail. Were Charlotte to consult her happiness, possibly she would have no objection to Lord G. She cannot, in the same man, have every-thing. But if Lord G. consulted his, I don't know whether he would wish for Charlotte. Excuse me, madam; you have heard, as well as she, my opinion of both men. Sir Walter, you say, has no part in the question; Lord G. wants not understanding: He is a man of probity; he is a virtuous man; a quality not to be despised in a young nobleman: He is also a mild man: He will bear a great deal. But contempt, or such a behaviour as should look like contempt, in a wife, what husband can bear? I should much more dread, for her sake, the exasperated spirit of a meek man, than the sudden gusts of anger of a passionate one.
Miss Grandison, Sir, has authorised me to say, That if you approve of Lord G.'s addresses, and will be so good as to take upon yourself the direction of every-thing relating to settlements, she will be entirely govern'd by you. Miss Grandison, Sir, has known Lord G. some time: His good character is well known: And I dare answer, that she will acquit herself with honour and prudence, in every engagement, but more especially in that which is the highest of all worldly ones.
Pray, madam, may I ask, If you know what she could mean by the questions she put in relation to Mr. Beauchamp? I think she has never seen him. Does she suppose, from his character, that she could prefer him to Lord G.?
I believe, Sir, what she said in relation to that gentleman, was purely the effect of her vivacity, and which she never thought of before, and probably, never will again. Had she meant any-thing by it, I dare say, she would not have put the questions about him in the manner she did.
I believe so. I love my sister, and I love my friend. Mr. Beauchamp has delicacy. I could not bear, for her sake, that, were she to behold him in the light hinted at, he should imagine he had reason to think slightly of my sister, for the correspondence she carried on, in so private a manner, with a man absolutely unworthy of her. But I hope she meant nothing, but to give way to that vein of raillery, which, when opened, she knows not always how to stop.
My spirits were not high: I was forced to take out my handkerchief—O my dear Miss Grandison! said I, I was afraid she had forfeited, partly, at least, what she holds most dear, the good opinion of her brother!
Forgive me, madam; 'tis a generous pain that I have made you suffer: I adore you for it. But I think I can reveal all the secrets of my heart to you. Your noble frankness calls for equal frankness: You would inspire it, where it is not. My sister, as I told her more than once in your hearing, has not lost any of my love. I love her, with all her faults; but must not be blind to them. Shall not praise and dispraise be justly given? I have faults, great faults, myself: What should I think of the man who called them virtues? How dangerous would it be to me, in that case, were my opinion of his judgment, joined to self-partiality, to lead me to believe him, and acquit my self?
This, Sir, is a manner of thinking worthy of Sir Charles Grandison.
It is worthy of every man, my good Miss Byron.
But, Sir, it would be very hard, that an indiscretion (I must own it to be such) should fasten reproach upon a woman who recovered herself so soon, and whose virtue was never sullied, or in danger.
Indeed it would: And therefore it was in tenderness to her that I intimated, that I never could think of promoting an alliance with a man of his nice notions, were both to incline to it.
I hope, Sir, that my dear Miss Grandison will run no risk of being slighted, by any other man, from a step which has cost her so dear in her peace of mind—I hesitated, and looked down.
I know, madam, what you mean. Altho' I love my friend Beauchamp above all men, yet would I do Lord G. or any other man, as much justice, as I would do him. I was so apprehensive of my sister's indifference to Lord G. and of the difference in their tempers, tho' both good, that I did my utmost to dissuade him from thinking of her: And when I found that his love was fixed beyond the power of dissuasion, I told him of the affair between her and Captain Anderson; and how lately I had put an end to it. He flattered himself, that the indifference, with which she had hitherto received his addresses, was principally owing to the difficulty of her situation; which being now so happily removed, he had hopes of meeting with encouragement; and doubted not, if he did, of making a merit with her, by his affection and gratitude. And now, madam, give me your opinion—Do you think Charlotte can be won (I hope she can) by indulgence, by Love? Let me caution her by you, madam, that it is fit she should still more restrain herself, if she marry a man to whom she thinks she has superior talents, than she need do if the difference were in his favour.
Permit me to add, That if she should show herself capable of returning slight for tenderness; of taking such liberties with a man who loves her, after she had given him her vows, as should depreciate him, and, of consequence, herself, in the eye of the world; I should be apt to forget that I had more than one sister: For, in cases of right and wrong, we ought not to know either relation or friend.
Does not this man, Lucy, show us, that goodness and greatness are synonymous words?
I think, Sir, replied I, that if Lord G. prove the good-natured man he seems to be; if he dislike not that brilliancy of temper in his Lady, which he seems not to value himself upon, tho' he may have qualities, at least, equally valuable; I have no doubt but Miss Grandison will make him very happy: For has she not great and good qualities? Is she not generous, and perfectly good natured? You know, Sir, that she is. And can it be supposed, that her charming vivacity will ever carry her so far beyond the bounds of prudence and discretion, as to make her forget what the nature of the obligation she will have entered into, requires of her?
Well, madam, then I may rejoice the heart of Lord G. by telling him, that he is at liberty to visit my sister, at her coming to town: or, if she come not soon (for he will be impatient to wait on her) at Colnebrooke?
I dare say you may, Sir.
As to articles and settlements, I will undertake for all those things: But be pleased to tell her, that she is absolutely at her own liberty, for me. If she shall think, when she sees farther of Lord G.'s temper and behaviour, that she cannot esteem him as a wife ought to esteem her husband; I shall not be concerned, if she dismiss him; provided that she keeps him not on in suspense, after she knows her own mind; but behaves to him according to the example set her by the best of women.
I could not but know to whom he designed this compliment; and had like to have bowed, but was glad I did not.
Well, madam, and now I think this subject is concluded. I have already written a Letter to Sir Walter, as at the request of my sister, to put an end, in the civillest terms, to his hopes. My Lord G. will be impatient for my return to town. I shall go with the more pleasure, because of the joy I shall be able to give him.
You must be very happy, Sir, since, besides the pleasure you take in doing good for its own sake, you are entitled to partake, in a very high manner, of the pleasures of every one you know.
He was so nobly modest, Lucy, that I could talk to him with more confidence than, I believed, at my entrance into my Lord's study, would fall to my share: And I had, besides, been led into a presence of mind, by being made a person of some consequence in the Love-case of another: But I was soon to have my whole attention engaged in a subject still nearer to my heart; as you shall hear.
Indeed, madam, said he, I am not very happy in myself. Is it not right then, to endeavour, by promoting the happiness of others, to entitle myself to a share of theirs?
If you are not happy, Sir—and I stopped. I believe sighed; I looked down: I took out my handkerchief, for fear I should want it.
There seems, said he, to be a mixture of generous concern, and kind curiosity, in one of the loveliest and most intelligent faces in the world. My sisters have, in your presence, expressed a great deal of the latter. Had I not been myself in a manner uncertain, as to the event that must, in some measure, govern my future destiny, I would have gratified it, especially as my Lord L. has, of late, joined in it. The crisis, I told them, however, as perhaps you remember, was at hand.
I do remember you said so, Sir. And indeed, Lucy, it was more than perhaps. I had not thought of any words half so often, since he spoke them.
The crisis, madam, is at hand: And I had not intended to open my lips upon the subject till it was over, except to Dr. Bartlett, who knows the whole affair, and indeed every affair of my life: But, as I hinted before, my heart is opened by the frankness of yours. If you will be so good as to indulge me, I will briefly lay before you a few of the difficulties of my situation; and leave it to you to communicate or not, at your pleasure, what I shall relate to my two sisters and Lord L. You four seem to be animated by one soul.
I am extremely concerned, Sir—I am very much concerned—repeated the trembling simpleton [one cheek feeling to myself very cold, the other glowingly warm, by turns; and now pale, now crimson perhaps to the eye] that any-thing should make you unhappy. But, Sir, I shall think myself favoured by your confidence.
I am interrupted in my recital of his affecting narration. Don't be impatient, Lucy: I almost wish I had not myself heard it.
Volume III - lettera 24
Volume III - Letter 25
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
I do not intend, madam, to trouble you with an history of all that part of my life which I was obliged to pass abroad from about the Seventeenth to near the Twenty-fifth year of my age; tho' perhaps it has been as busy a period as could well be, in the life of a man so young, and who never sought to tread in oblique or crooked paths. After this entrance into it, Dr. Bartlett shall be at liberty to satisfy your curiosity in a more particular manner; for he and I have corresponded for years with an intimacy that has few examples between a youth and a man in advanced life. And here let me own the advantages I have received from his condescension; for I found the following questions often occur to me, and to be of the highest service in the conduct of my life—'What account shall I give of this to Dr. Bartlett?' 'How, were I to give way to this temptation, shall I report it to Dr. Bartlett?'—Or, 'Shall I be an hypocrite, and only inform him of the best, and meanly conceal from him the worst?'
Thus, madam, was Dr. Bartlett in the place of a second conscience to me: And many a good thing did I do, many a bad one avoid, for having set up such a monitor over my conduct. And it was the more necessary that I should, as I am naturally passionate, proud, ambitious: and as I had the honour of being early distinguished (Pardon, madam, the seeming vanity) by a sex, of which no man was ever a greater admirer; and, possibly, the more distinguished, as, for my safety-sake, I was as studious to decline intimacy with the gay ones of it, however dignified by rank, or celebrated for beauty, as most young men are to cultivate their favour.
Nor is it so much to be wondered at, that I had advantages which every-one who travels, has not. Residing for some time at the principal courts, and often visiting the same places, in the length of time I was abroad, I was considered, in a manner, as a native, at the same time, that I was treated with the respect that is generally paid to travellers of figure, as well in France, as Italy. I was very genteelly supported: I stood in high credit with my countrymen, to whom I had many ways of being serviceable. They made known to every-body my father's affection for me; his magnificent spirit; the ancient families, on both sides, from which I was descended. I kept the best company; avoided intrigues; made not myself obnoxious to serious or pious people, tho' I scrupled not to avow, when called upon, my own principles. From all these advantages, I was respected beyond my degree.
I should not, madam, have been thus lavish in my own praise, but to account to you for the favour I stood in with several families of the first rank; and to suggest an excuse for more than one of them, which thought it no disgrace to wish me to be allied with them.
Lord L. mentioned to you, madam, and my sisters, a Florentine Lady, by the name of OLIVIA. She is, indeed, a woman of high qualities, nobly born, generous, amiable in her features, genteel in her person, and mistress of a great fortune in possession, which is entirely at her own disposal; having not father, mother, brother, or other near relations. The first time I saw her was at the opera. An opportunity offered in her sight, where a Lady, insulted by a Lover made desperate by her just refusal of him, claimed and received my protection. What I did, on the occasion, was generally applauded: Olivia, in particular, spoke highly of it. Twice, afterwards, I saw her in company where I was a visitor: I had not the presumption to look up to her with hope; but my countryman Mr. Jervois gave me to understand, that I might be master of my own fortune with Lady Olivia. I pleaded difference of religion: He believed, he said, that matter might be made easy—But could I be pleased with the change, would she have made it, when passion, not conviction, was likely to be the motive?—There could be no objection to her person: Nobody questioned her virtue; but she was violent and imperious in her temper. I had never left MIND out of my notions of love: I could not have been happy with her, had she been queen of the globe. I had the mortification of being obliged to declare myself to the Lady's face: It was a mortification to me, as much for her sake as my own. I was obliged to leave Florence upon it, for some time; having been apprized, that the spirit of revenge had taken place of a gentler passion, and that I was in danger from it.
How often did I lament the want of that refuge in a father's arms, and in my native country, which subjected me to evils that were more than a match for my tender years. and to all the inconveniencies that can attend a banished man! Indeed I often considered myself in this light; and, as the inconveniencies happened, was ready to repine; and the more ready, as I could not afflict myself with the thought of having forfeited my father's love; on the contrary, as the constant instances which I received of his paternal goodness, made me still more earnest to acknowledge it at his feet.
Ought I to have forborne, Lucy, showing a sensibility at my eyes on this affecting instance of filial gratitude? If I ought, I wish I had had more command of myself: But consider, my dear, the affecting subject we were upon. I was going to apologise for the trickling tear, and to have said, as I truly might, Your filial goodness, Sir, affects me: But, with the consciousness that must have accompanied the words, would not that, to so nice a discerner, have been to own, that I thought the tender emotion wanted an apology? These little tricks of ours, Lucy, may satisfy our own punctilio, and serve to keep us in countenance with ourselves (and that, indeed, is doing something); but, to a penetrating eye, they tend only to show, that we imagined a cover, a veil, wanting; and what is that veil, but a veil of gauze?
What makes me so much afraid of this man's discernment? Am I not an honest girl, Lucy?
From this violent Lady I had great trouble; and to this day—But this part of my story I leave to Dr. Bartlett to acquaint you with. I mention it as a matter that yet gives me concern, for her sake, and as what I find has given some amusement to my sister Charlotte's curiosity.
But I hasten to the affair which, of all others, has most embarrassed me; and which, engaging my compassion, tho' my honour is free, gives torture to my very soul.
I found myself not well—I thought I should have fainted—The apprehension of his taking it as I wished him not to take it (for indeed, Lucy, I don't think it was that) made me worse. Had I been myself, this faintishness might have come over my heart. I am sure it was not that: But it seized me at a very unlucky moment, you'll say.
With a countenance full of tender concern, he caught my hand, and rang. In ran his Emily. My dear Miss Jervois, said I, leaning upon her—Excuse me, Sir—And I withdrew to the door: And, when there, finding my faintishness going off, I turned to him, who attended me thither: I am better, Sir, already; I will return, instantly. I must beg of you to proceed with your interesting story.
I was well the moment I was out of the Study. It was kept too warm, I believe; and I sat too near the fire: That was it, to be sure; and I said so, on my return; which was the moment I had drank a glass of cold water.
How tender was his regard for me! He did not abash me by causelessly laying my disorder on his story, and by offering to discontinue or postpone it. Indeed, Lucy, it was not owing to that; I should easily have distinguished it, if it had: On the contrary, as I am not generally so much affected at the moment when any-thing unhappy befalls me, as I am upon reflexion, when I extend, compare, and weigh consequences, I was quite brave in my heart. Any-thing, thought I, is better than suspense. Now will my fortitude have a call to exert itself; and I warrant I bear, as well as he, an evil that is inevitable. At this instant, this trying instant, however, I found myself thus brave: So, my dear, it was nothing but the too great warmth of the room which overcame me.
I endeavoured to assume all my courage; and desired him to proceed; but held by the arm of my chair, to steady me, lest my little tremblings should increase. The faintness had left some little tremblings upon me, Lucy; and one would not care, you know, to be thought affected by any-thing in his story. He proceeded.
At Bologna, and in the neighbourhood of Urbino, are seated two branches of a noble family, marquises and counts of Porretta, which boasts its pedigree from Roman princes, and has given to the church two cardinals; one in the latter age, the other in the beginning of this.
The Marchese della Poretta, who resides in Bologna, is a nobleman of great merit: His Lady is illustrious by descent, and still more so for her goodness of heart, sweetness of temper, and prudence. They have three sons, and a daughter—
[Ah, that daughter! thought I.]
The eldest of the sons is a general officer, in the service of the king of the two Sicilies; a man of equal honour and bravery, but passionate and haughty, valuing himself on his descent. The second is devoted to the church, and is already a Bishop. The interest of his family, and his own merits, it is not doubted, will one day if he lives, give him a place in the sacred college. The third, Signor Jeronymo (or, as he is sometimes called, the Barone) della Porretta, has a regiment in the service of the king of Sardinia. The sister is the favourite of them all. She is lovely in her person, gentle in her manners, and has high, but just, notions of the nobility of her descent, of the honour of her sex, and of what is due to her own character. She is pious, charitable, beneficent. Her three brothers preferred her interests to their own. Her father used to call her, The pride of his life; her mother, Her other self; her own Clementina.
[CLEMENTINA!—Ah! Lucy, what a pretty name is Clementina!]
I became intimate with Signor Jeronymo at Rome, near two years before I had the honour to be known to the rest of his family, except by his report, which he made run very high in my favour. He was master of many fine qualities; but had contracted friendship with a set of dissolute young men of rank, with whom he was very earnest to make me acquainted. I allowed myself to be often in their company; but, as they were totally abandoned in their morals, it was in hopes, by degrees, to draw him from them: But a love of pleasure had got fast hold of him; and his other companions prevailed over his good-nature. He had courage, but not enough to resist their libertine attacks upon his morals.
Such a friendship could not hold, while each stood his ground; and neither would advance to meet the other. In short, we parted, nor held a correspondence in absence: But afterwards meeting, by accident, at Padua, and Jeronymo having, in the interim, been led into inconveniencies, he avowed a change of principles, and the friendship was renewed.
It however held not many months: A Lady, less celebrated for virtue than beauty, obtained an influence over him, against warning, against promise.
On being expostulated with, and his promise claimed, he resented the friendly freedom. He was passionate; and, on this occasion, less polite than it was natural for him to be: He even defied his friend. My dear Jeronymo how generously has he acknowledged since, the part his friend, at that time, acted! But the result was, they parted, resolving never more to see each other.
Jeronymo pursued the adventure which had occasioned the difference; and one of the Lady's admirers, envying him his supposed success, hired Brescian bravoes to assassinate him.
The attempt was made in the Cremonese. They had got him into their toils in a little thicket at some distance from the road. I, attended by two servants, happened to be passing, when a frighted horse ran across the way, his bridle broken, and his saddle bloody: This making me apprehend some mischief to the rider, I drove down the opening he came from, and soon beheld a man struggling on the ground with two ruffians; one of whom was just stopping his mouth, the other stabbing him. I leapt out of the post-chaise, and drew my sword, running towards them as fast as I could; and, calling to my servants to follow me, indeed calling as if I had a number with me, in order to alarm them. On this, they fled; and I heard them say, Let us make off; we have done his business. Incensed at the villainy, I pursued and came up with one of them, who turned upon me. I beat down his trombone, a kind of blunderbuss, just as he presented it at me, and had wounded and thrown him on the ground; but seeing the other ruffian turning back to help his fellow, and, on a sudden, two others appearing with their horses, I thought it best to retreat, tho' I would fain have secured one of them. My servants then seeing my danger, hastened, shouting, towards me. The bravoes (perhaps apprehending there were more than two) seemed as glad to get off with their rescued companion, as I was to retire. I hastened then to the unhappy man: But how much was I surprised, when I found him to be the Barone della Porretta, who, in disguise, had been actually pursuing his amour!
He gave signs of life. I instantly dispatched one of my servants to Cremona, for a surgeon: I bound up, mean time, as well as I could, two of his wounds, one in his shoulder, the other in his breast. He had one in his hip-joint, that disabled him from helping himself, and which I found beyond my skill to do anything with; only endeavouring, with my handkerchief, to stop its bleeding. I helped him into my chaise, stepped in with him, and held him up in it, till one of my men told me, they had, in another part of the thicket, found his servant bound and wounded his horse lying dead by his side. I then alighted, and put the poor fellow into the chaise, he being stiff with his hurts, and unable to stand.
I walked by the side of it, and in this manner moved towards Cremona, in order to shorten the way of the expected surgeon.
My servant soon returned with one. Jeronymo had fainted away. The surgeon dressed him, and proceeded with him to Cremona. Then it was, that, opening his eyes, he beheld, and knew me; and being told, by the surgeon, that he owed his preservation to me, O Grandison! said he, that I had followed your advice! that I had kept my promise with you!—How did I insult you!—Can my deliverer forgive me? You shall be the director of my future life, if it please God to restore me.
His wounds proved not mortal; but he never will be the man he was: Partly from his having been unskilfully treated by this his first surgeon; and partly from his own impatience, and the difficulty of curing the wound in his hip-joint. Excuse this particularity, madam. The subject requires it; and Signor Jeronymo now deserves it, and all your pity.
I attended him at Cremona, till he was fit to remove. He was visited there by his whole family from Bologna. There never was a family more affectionate to one another: The suffering of one, is the suffering of every one. The Barone was exceedingly beloved by his father, mother, sister, for the sweetness of his manners, his affectionate heart, and a wit so delightfully gay and lively, that his company was sought by every-body.
You will easily believe, madam, from what I have said, how acceptable to the whole family the service was which I had been so happy as to render their Jeronymo. They all joined to bless me; and the more, when they came to know that I was the person whom their Jeronymo, in the days of our intimacy, had highly extolled in his Letters to his sister, and to both brothers; and who now related to them, by word of mouth, the occasion of the coldness that had passed between us, with circumstances as honourable for me, as the contrary for himself: Such were his penitential confessions, in the desperate condition to which he found himself reduced.
He now, as I attended by his bed or his couch-side, frequently called for a repetition of those arguments which he had, till now, derided. He besought me to forgive him for treating them before with levity, and me with disrespect, next, as he said, to insult: And he begged his family to consider me not only as the preserver of his life, but as the restorer of his morals. This gave the whole family the highest opinion of mine; and still more to strengthen it, the generous youth produced to them, tho', as I may say, at his own expense (for his reformation was sincere), a Letter which I wrote to lie by him, in hopes to enforce his temporary convictions; for he had a noble nature, and a lively sense of what was due to his character, and to the love and piety of his parents, the Bishop, and his sister; tho' he was loth to think he could be wrong in those pursuits in which he was willing to indulge himself.
Never was there a more grateful family. The noble father was uneasy, because he know not how to acknowledge, according to the largeness of his heart to a man in genteel circumstances, the obligation laid upon them all. The mother, with a freedom more amiably great than the Italian Ladies are accustomed to express, bid her Clementina regard as her fourth brother, the preserver of the third. The Barone declared, that he should never rest, nor recover, till he had got me rewarded in such manner as all the world should think I had honour done me in it.
When the Barone was removed to Bologna, the whole family were studious to make occasions to get me among them. The General made me promise, when my relations, as he was pleased to express himself, at Bologna, could part with me, to give him my company at Naples. The Bishop, who passed all the time he had to spare from his diocese, at Bologna, and who is a learned man, in compliment to his fourth brother, would have me initiate him into the knowledge of the English tongue.
Our Milton has deservedly a name among them. The friendship that there was between him and a learned nobleman of their country, endeared his memory to them. Milton, therefore, was a principal author with us. Our lectures were usually held in the chamber of the wounded brother, in order to divert him: He also became my scholar. The father and mother were often present; and at such times their Clementina was seldom absent. She also called me her tutor; and, tho' she was not half so often present at the lectures as they were, made a greater proficiency than either of her brothers.
[Do you doubt it, Lucy?]
The father, as well as the Bishop, is learned; the mother well read. She had had the benefit of a French education; being brought up by her uncle, who resided many years at Paris in a public character: And her daughter had, under her own eye, advantages in her education which are hardly ever allowed or sought after by the Italian Ladies. In such company, you may believe, madam, that I, who was kept abroad against my wishes, passed my time very agreeably. I was particularly honoured with the confidence of the Marchioness, who opened her heart to me, and consulted me on every material occurrence. Her Lord, who is one of the politest of men, was never better pleased than when he found us together; and not seldom, tho' we were not engaged in lectures, the fair Clementina claimed a right to be where her mother was.
About this time, the young Count of Belvedere returned to Parma, in order to settle in his native country. His father was a favourite in the court of the princess of Parma, and attended that Lady to Madrid, on her marriage with the late king of Spain, where he held a very considerable post, and lately died there immensely rich. On a visit to this noble family, the young Lord saw, and loved Clementina.
The Count of Belvedere is a handsome, a gallant, a sensible man; his fortune is very great: Such an alliance was not to be slighted. The Marquis gave his countenance to it: The Marchioness favoured me with several conversations upon the subject. She was of opinion, perhaps, that it was necessary to know my thoughts, on this occasion; for the younger brother, unknown to me, declared, that he thought there was no way of rewarding my merits to the family, but by giving me a relation to it. Dr. Bartlett, madam, can show you, from my Letters to him, some conversations, which will convince you, that in Italy, as well as in other countries, there are persons of honour, of goodness, of generosity; and who are above reserve, vindictiveness, jealousy, and those other bad passions by which some persons mark indiscriminately a whole nation.
For my own part, it was impossible (distinguished as I was by every individual of this noble family, and lovely as is this daughter of it, mistress of a thousand good qualities, and myself absolutely disengaged in my affections) that my vanity should not sometimes be awakened, and a wish arise, that there might be a possibility of obtaining such a prize: But I checked the vanity, the moment I could find it begin to play about and warm my heart. To have attempted to recommend myself to the young Lady's favour, tho' but by looks, by assiduities, I should have thought an infamous breach of the trust and confidence they all reposed in me.
The pride of a family so illustrious in its descent; their fortunes unusually high for the country which, by the goodness of their hearts, they adorned; the relation they bore to the church; my foreign extraction and interest; the Lady's exalted merits, which made her of consequence to the hearts of several illustrious youths, before the Count of Belvedere made known his passion for her; none of which the fond family thought worthy of their Clementina, nor any of whom could engage her heart; but, above all, the difference in religion; the young Lady so remarkably steadfast in hers, that it was with the utmost difficulty they could restrain her from assuming the veil; and who once declared, in anger, on hearing me, when called upon, avow my principles, that she grudged to an heretic the glory of having saved the Barone della Poretta; all these considerations outweighed any hopes that might otherwise have arisen in a bosom so sensible of the favours they were continually heaping upon me.
About the same time, the troubles, now so happily appeased, broke out in Scotland: Hardly any thing else was talked of, in Italy, but the progress, and supposed certainty of success, of the young invader. I was often obliged to stand the triumphs and exultations of persons of rank and figure; being known to be warm in the interest of my country. I had a good deal of this kind of spirit to contend with, even in this more moderate Italian family; and this frequently brought on debates which I would gladly have avoided holding: But it was impossible. Every new advice from England revived the disagreeable subject; for the success of the rebels, it was not doubted, would be attended with the restoration of what they called the Catholic religion: And Clementina particularly pleased herself, that then her heretic tutor would take refuge in the bosom of his holy mother, the church: And she delighted to say things of this nature in the language I was teaching her, and which, by this time, she spoke very intelligibly.
I took a resolution, hereupon, to leave Italy for a while, and to retire to Vienna, or to some one of the German courts that was less interested than they were in Italy, in the success of the Chevalier's undertaking; and I was the more desirous to do so, as the displeasure of Olivia against me began to grow serious, and to be talked of, even by herself, with less discretion than was consistent with her high spirit, her noble birth, and ample fortune.
I communicated my intention to the Marchioness first: The noble Lady expressed her concern at the thoughts of my quitting Italy, and engaged me to put off my departure for some weeks; but, at the same time, hinted to me, with an explicitness that is peculiar to her, her apprehensions, and her Lord's, that I was in Love with her Clementina. I convinced her of my honour, in this particular; and she so well satisfied the Marquis, in this respect, that, on their daughter's absolute refusal of the Count of Belvedere, they confided in me to talk to her in favour of that gentleman. The young Lady and I had a conference upon the subject; Dr. Bartlett can give you the particulars. The father and mother, unknown to us both, had placed themselves in a closet adjoining to the room we were in, and which communicated to another, as well as to that: They had no reason to be dissatisfied with what they heard me say to their daughter.
The time of my departure from Italy drawing near, and the young Lady repeatedly refusing the Count of Belvedere, the younger brother (still unknown to me, for he doubted not but I should rejoice at the honour he hoped to prevail upon them to do me) declared in my favour. They objected the more obvious difficulties in relation to religion, and my country: He desired to be commissioned to talk to me on those subjects, and to his sister on her motives for refusing the Count of Belvedere; but they would not hear of his speaking to me on this subject; the Marchioness giving generous reasons, on my behalf, for her joining in the refusal; and undertaking herself to talk to her daughter, and to demand of her, her reasons for rejecting every proposal that had been made her.
She accordingly closeted her Clementina. She could get nothing from her, but tears: A silence, without the least appearance of sullenness, had for some days before shown, that a deep melancholy had begun to lay hold of her heart: She was, however, offended when Love was attributed to her; yet her mother told me, that she could not but suspect, that she was under the dominion of that passion without knowing it; and the rather, as she was never cheerful but when she was taking lessons for learning a tongue, that never, as the Marchioness said, was likely to be of use to her.
['As the Marchioness said'—Ah my Lucy!]
The melancholy increased. Her tutor, as he was called, was desired to talk to her. He did. It was a task put upon him, that had its difficulties. It was observed, that she generally assumed a cheerful air while she was with him, but said little: yet seemed pleased with every-thing he said to her; and the little she did answer, tho' he spoke in Italian or French, was in her newly-acquired language: But the moment he was gone, her countenance fell, and she was studious to find opportunities to get from company.
[What think you of my fortitude, Lucy? Was I not a good girl? But my curiosity kept up my spirits. When I come to reflect, thought I, I shall have it all upon my pillow.]
Her parents were in the deepest affliction. They consulted physicians, who all pronounced her malady to be Love. She was taxed with it; and all the indulgence promised her that her heart could wish, as to the object; but still she could not, with patience, bear the imputation. Once she asked her woman, who told her that she was certainly in Love, Would you have me hate myself?—Her mother talked to her of the passion in favourable terms, and as laudable: She heard her with attention, but made no answer.
The evening before the day I was to set out for Germany, the family made a sumptuous entertainment, in honour of a guest on whom they had conferred so many favours. They had brought themselves to approve of his departure the more readily, as they were willing to see, whether his absence would affect their Clementina; and, if it did, in what manner.
They left it to her choice. Whether she would appear at table, or not. She chose to be there. They all rejoiced at her recovered spirits. She was exceeding cheerful: She supported her part of the conversation, during the whole evening, with her usual vivacity and good sense, insomuch that I wished to myself, I had departed sooner. Yet it is surprising, thought I that this young Lady, who seemed always to be pleased, and even since these reveries have had power over her, to be most cheerful in my company, should rejoice in my departure; should seem to owe her recovery to it; a departure which every one else kindly regrets: And yet there was nothing in her behaviour or looks that appeared in the least affected. When acknowledgements were made to me of the pleasure I had given to the whole family, she joined in them: When my health and happiness were wished, she added her wishes by cheerful bows, as she sat: When they wished to see me again, before I went to England, she did the same. So that my heart was dilated: I was overjoyed to see such an happy alteration. When I took leave of them, she stood forward to receive my compliments, with a polite French freedom. I offered to press her hand with my lips: My brother's deliverer, said she, must not affect this distance, and, in manner, offered her cheek; adding, God preserve my tutor wherever he set his foot (and in English, God convert you too, Chevalier!) May you never want such an agreeable friend as you have been to us!
Signor Jeronymo was not able to be with us. I went up to take leave of him: O my Grandison! said he, and flung his arms about my neck, and will you go?—Blessings attend you!—But what will become of a brother and sister, when they have lost you?
You will rejoice me, replied I, if you will favour me with a few lines, by a servant whom I shall leave behind me for a few days, and who will find me at Inspruck, to let me know how you all do; and whether your sister's health continues.
She must, she shall be yours, said he, if I can manage it. Why, why, will you leave us?
I was surprised to hear him say this: He had never before been so particular.
That cannot, cannot be, said I. There are a thousand obstacles—
All of which, rejoined he, that depend upon us, I doubt not to overcome. Your heart is not with Olivia?
They all knew, from that Lady's indiscretion, of the proposals that had been made me, relating to her; and of my declining them. I assured him, that my heart was free.
We agreed upon a correspondence, and I took leave of one of the most grateful of men.
But how much was I afflicted when I received at Inspruck the expected Letter, which acquainted me, that this sunshine lasted no longer than the next day! The young Lady's malady returned, with redoubled force. Shall I, madam, briefly relate to you the manner in which, as her brother wrote, it operated upon her?
She shut herself up in her chamber, not seeming to regard or know that her woman was in it; nor did she answer to two or three questions that her woman asked her; but, setting her chair with its back towards her, over-against a closet in the room, after a profound silence, she bent forwards, and, in a low voice, seemed to be communing with a person in the closet.—
'And you say he is actually gone? Gone for ever? No, not for ever!'
Who gone, madam? said her woman. To whom do you direct your discourse?
'We were all obliged to him, no doubt. So bravely to rescue my brother, and to pursue the bravoes; and, as my brother says, to put him in his own chaise, and walk on foot by the side of it—Why, as you say, assassins might have murdered him: The horses might have trampled him under their feet.'
Still looking as if she was speaking to somebody in the closet.
Her woman stepped to the closet, and opened the door, and left it open, to take off her attention to the place, and to turn the course of her ideas; but still she bent forwards towards, and talked calmly, as if to somebody in it: Then breaking into a faint laugh,
'In Love!—that is such a silly notion: And yet I love every-body better than I love myself.'
Her mother came into the room just then. The young Lady arose in haste, and shut the closet-door, as if she had somebody hid there, and, throwing herself at her mother's feet, My dear, my ever-honoured mama, said she, forgive me for all the trouble I have caused you—But I will, I must, you can't deny me; I will be God's child, as well as yours. I will go into a nunnery.
It came out afterwards, that her confessor, taking advantage of confessions extorted from her of regard for her tutor, tho' only such as a sister might bear to a brother, but which he had suspected might come to be of consequence, had filled her tender mind with terrors, that had thus affected her head. She is, as I have told you, madam, a young Lady of exemplary piety.
I will not dwell on a scene so melancholy. How I afflict your tender heart, my good Miss Byron!
[Do you think, Lucy, I did not weep?—Indeed I did—Poor young Lady!—But my mind was fitted for the indulging of scenes so melancholy. Pray, Sir, proceed, said I: What a heart must that be, which bleeds not for such a distress! Pray, Sir, proceed.]
Be it Dr. Bartlett's task to give you further particulars. I will be briefer—I will not indulge my own grief.
All that medicine could do, was tried: But her confessor, who, however, is an honest, a worthy man, kept up her fears and terrors. He saw the favour her tutor was in with the whole family: He knew that the younger brother had declared for rewarding him in a very high manner: He had more than once put this favoured man upon an avowal of his principles; and, betwixt her piety and her gratitude, had raised such a conflict as her tender nature could not bear.
At Florence lives a family of high rank and honour, the Ladies of which have with them a friend noted for the excellency of her heart, and her genius; and who, having been robbed of her fortune early in life, by an uncle to whose care she was committed by her dying father, was received both as a companion and a blessing, by the Ladies of the family she has now for many years lived with. She is an English woman, and a Protestant; but so very discreet, that her being so, tho' at first they hoped to proselyte her, gives them not a less value for her; and yet they are all zealous Roman Catholics. These two Ladies, and this their companion, were visiting one day at the Marchese della Porretta's; and there the distressed mother told them the mournful tale: The Ladies, who think nothing that is within the compass of human prudence impossible to their dear Mrs. BEAUMONT, wished that the young Lady might be entrusted for a week to her care, at their own house at Florence.
It was consented to, as soon as proposed; and Lady Clementina was as willing to go; there having always been an intimacy between the families; and she (as every-body else) having an high opinion of Mrs. Beaumont. They took her with them on the day they set out for Florence.
Here, again, for shortening my story, I will refer to Dr. Bartlett. Mrs. Beaumont went to the bottom of the malady: She gave her advice to the family upon it. They were resolved (Signor Jeronymo supporting her advice) to be governed by it. The young Lady was told, that she should be indulged in all her wishes. She then acknowledged what those were; and was the easier for the acknowledgement, and for the advice of such a prudent friend; and returned to Bologna (Mrs. Beaumont accompanying her) much more composed than when she left it. The tutor was sent for, by common consent; for there had been a convention of the whole family; the Urbino branch, as well as the General, being present. There the terms to be proposed to the supposed happy man were settled; but they were not to be mentioned to him, till after he had seen the Lady: A wrong policy, surely.
He was then at Vienna. Signor Jeronymo, in his Letter, congratulated him in high terms; as a man, whom he had it now, at last, in his power to reward: And he hinted, in general, that the conditions would be such, as it was impossible but he must find his very great advantage in them: As to fortune, to be sure, he meant.
The friend so highly valued could not but be affected with the news: Yet, knowing the Lady, and the family, he was afraid that the articles of Residence and Religion would not be easily compromised between them. He therefore summoned up all his prudence to keep his fears alive, and his hope in suspense.
He arrived at Bologna. He was permitted to pay his compliments to Lady Clementina in her mother's presence. How agreeable, how nobly frank, was the reception from both mother and daughter! How high ran the congratulations of Jeronymo! He called the supposed happy man brother. The Marquis was ready to recognise the fourth son in him. A great fortune, additional to an estate bequeathed her by her two grandfathers, was proposed. My father was to be invited over, to grace the nuptials by his presence.
But let me cut short the rest. The terms could not be complied with: For I was to make a formal renunciation of my religion, and to settle in Italy; only once, in two or three years, was allowed, if I pleased, for two or three months, to go to England; and, as a visit of curiosity, once in her life, if their daughter desired it, to carry her thither, for a time to be limited by them.
What must be my grief, to be obliged to disappoint such expectations as were raised by persons who had so sincere a value for me! You cannot, madam, imagine my distress: So little as could be expected to be allowed by them to the principles of a man whom they supposed to be in an error that would inevitably cast him into perdition! But when the friendly brother implored my compliance; when the excellent mother, in effect, besought me to have pity on her heart, and on her child's head; and when the tender, the amiable Clementina, putting herself out of the question, urged me, for my soul's sake, to embrace the doctrines of her holy mother the church—What, madam—But how I grieve you!
[He stopped—His handkerchief was of use to him, as mine was to me—What a distress was here!]
And what, and what, Sir, sobbing, was the result? Could you, could you resist?
Satisfied in my own faith; Entirely satisfied! Having insuperable objections to that I was wished to embrace!—A lover of my native country too—Were not my God and my Country to be the sacrifice, if I complied! But I laboured, I studied, for a compromise. I must have been unjust to Clementina's merit, and to my own Character, had she not been dear to me. And indeed I beheld graces in her then, that I had before resolved to shut my eyes against; her Rank next to princely; her Fortune high as her rank; Religion; Country; all so many obstacles that had appeared to me insuperable, removed by themselves; and no apprehension left of a breach of the laws of hospitality, which had, till now, made me struggle to behold one of the most amiable and noble-minded of women with indifference.—I offered to live one year in Italy, one in England, by turns, if their dear Clementina would live with me there; if not, I would content myself with passing only three months, in every year, in my native country. I proposed to leave her entirely at her liberty, in the article of religion; and, in case of children by the marriage, the daughters to be educated by her, the sons by me; a condition to which his Holiness himself, it was presumed, would not refuse his sanction, as there were precedents for it. This, madam, was a great sacrifice to Compassion, to Love.—What could I more!
And would not, Sir, would not Clementina consent to this compromise?
Ah the unhappy Lady! It is this reflexion that strengthens my grief. She would have consented: She was earnest to procure the consent of her friends upon these terms. This her earnestness in my favour, devoted as she was to her religion, excites my compassion, and calls for my gratitude.
What scenes, what distressful scenes, followed!—The noble father forgot his promised indulgence; the mother indeed seemed, in a manner, neutral; the youngest brother was still, however, firm in my cause; but the Marquis, the General, the Bishop, and the whole Urbino branch of the family, were not to be moved; and the less, as they considered the alliance as highly honourable to me (a private, an obscure man, as now they began to call me) as derogatory to their own honour. In short, I was allowed, I was desired, to depart from Bologna; and not suffered to take my leave of the unhappy Clementina, tho' on her knees she begged to be allowed a parting interview—And what was the consequence?—Dr. Bartlett must tell the rest.—Unhappy Clementina!—Now they wish me to make them one more visit at Bologna!—Unhappy Clementina!—To what purpose?
I saw his noble heart was too much affected, to answer questions, had I had voice to ask any.
But, O my friends! you see how it is! Can I be so unhappy as he is? As his Clementina is? Well might Dr. Bartlett say, that this excellent man is not happy. Well might he himself say, that he has suffered greatly, even from good women. Well might he complain of sleepless nights. Unhappy Clementina! let me repeat after him; and not happy Sir Charles Grandison!—and who, my dear is happy? Not, I am sure,
Your HARRIET BYRON.
Volume III - lettera 25
Volume III - Letter 26
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
I was forced to lay down my pen. I will begin a new Letter. I did not think of concluding my former where I did.
Sir Charles saw me in grief, and forgot his own, to applaud my humanity, as he called it, and sooth me. I have often, said he, referred you, in my narrative, to Dr. Bartlett. I will beg of him to let you see anything you shall wish to see, in the free and unreserved correspondence we have held. You that love to entertain your friends with your narrations, will find something, perhaps, in a story like this, to engage their curiosity. On their honour and candour, I am sure, I may depend. Are they not your friends? Would to heaven it were in my power to contribute to their pleasure and yours!
I only bowed. I could only bow.
I told you, madam, that my Compassion was engaged; but that any Honour was free: I think it is so. But when you have seen all that Dr. Bartlett will show you, you will be the better able to judge of me, and for me. I had rather be thought favourably of by Miss Byron, than by any woman in the world.
Who, Sir, said I, knowing only so far as I know of the unhappy Clementina, but must wish her to be—
Ah Lucy! there I stopped—I had like to have been a false girl!—And yet ought I not, from my heart, to have been able to say what I was going to say?—I do aver, Lucy, upon repeated experience, that Love is a narrower of the heart. Did I not use to be thought generous and benevolent, and to be above all selfishness? But am I so now?
And now, madam, said he [and he was going to take my hand, but with an air, as if he thought the freedom would be too great—A tenderness so speaking in his eyes; a respectfulness so solemn in his countenance; he just touched it, and withdrew his hand] What shall I say?—I cannot tell what I should say—But you, I see, can pity me!—You can pity the noble Clementina—Honour forbids me!—Yet honour bids me—Yet I cannot be unjust, ungenerous—selfish!—
He arose from his seat—Allow me, madam, to thank you for the favour of your ear—Pardon me for the trouble I see I have given to an heart that is capable of a sympathy so tender.
And, bowing low, he withdrew with precipitation, as if he would not let me see his emotion. He left me looking here, looking there, as if for my heart; and then, as giving it up for irrecoverable, I became for a few moments motionless, and a statue.
A violent burst of tears recovered me to sense and motion; and just then Miss Grandison (who having heard her brother withdraw, forbore for a few minutes to enter, supposing he would return, hearing me sob, rushed in.—O my Harriet! said she, clasping her arms about me, What is done!—Do I, or do I not, embrace my sister, my real sister, my sister Grandison?
Ah my Charlotte! No flattering hope is now left me—No sister! It must not, it cannot be! The Lady is—But lead me, lead me out of this room!—I don't love it! spreading one hand before my eyes, my tears trickling between my fingers—Tears that flowed not only for myself, but for Sir Charles Grandison and the unhappy Clementina: For, gather you not from what he said, that something disastrous has befallen the poor Lady? And then, supporting myself with her arm, I hurried out of Lord L.'s Study, and up stairs into my own chamber; she following me—Leave me, leave me here, dear creature, said I, for six minutes: I will attend you then, in your own dressing-room.
She kindly retired; I threw myself into a chair, indulged my tears for a few moments, and was the fitter to receive the two sisters, who, hand-in-hand, came into my room to comfort me.
But I could not relate what had passed immediately with any connexion: I told them only, that all was over; that their brother was to be pitied, not blamed: And that if they would allow me to recollect some things that were most affecting, I would attend them; and they should have my narrative the more exact, for the indulgence.
They stayed no longer with me than to see me a little composed.
Sir Charles and Dr. Bartlett went out together in his chariot: He enquired more than once of my health; saying to his sister Charlotte, That he was afraid he had affected me too much, by the melancholy tale he had been telling me.
He excused himself from dining with us. Poor man! What must be his distress!—Not able to see, to sit with us!
I would have excused myself also, being not very fit to appear; but was not permitted.
I sat, however, but a very little while at table after dinner; and how tedious did the dinner-time appear! The servants eyes were irksome to me; so were Emily's (dear girl!) glistening as they did, tho' she knew not for what, but sympathetically, as I may say; she supposing, that all was not as she would have it.
She came up soon after to me—One word, my dearest madam (the door in her hand, and her head only within it): Tell me only that there is no misunderstanding between my guardian and you!—Tell me only that—
None, my dear!—None, none at all, my Emily!
Thank God! clasping her hands together; thank God!—If there were, I should not have known whose part to take!—But I won't disturb you—And was going.
Stay, stay, my precious young friend! Stay, my Emily.—I arose; took her hand: My sweet girl! say, Will you live with me?
God for ever bless you, dearest madam!—Will I? It is the wish next my heart.
Will you go down with me to Northamptonshire, my love?
To the world's end I will attend you, madam: I will be your handmaid; and I will love you better than I love my guardian, if possible.
Ah my dear! but how will you live without seeing your guardian now-and-then?
Why he will live with us, won't he?
No, no, my dear!—And you would choose, then, to live with him, not with me, would you not?—
Indeed but I won't—Indeed I will live and die with you, if you will let me; and I warrant his kind heart will often lead him to us. But tell me, Why these tears, madam? Why this grief?—Why do you speak so quick and short? and why do you seem to be in such a hurry?
Do I speak quick and short? Do I seem to be in a hurry?—Thank you, my love, for your observation. And now leave me: I will profit by it.
The amiable girl withdrew on tiptoe; and I sat about composing myself.
I was obliged to her for her observation: It was really of use to me. But you must think, Lucy, that I must be fluttered—His manner of leaving me—Was it not particular?—To break from me so abruptly, as I may say—And what he said with looks so earnest! Looks that seemed to carry more meaning than his words: And withdrawing without conducting me out, as he had led me in—and as if—I don't know how as if—But you will give me your opinion of all these things. I can't say but I think my suspense is over; and in a way not very desirable—Yet—But why should I puzzle myself? What must be, must.
At afternoon-tea, the gentlemen not being returned, and Emily undertaking the waiter's office, I gave my Lord and the two Ladies, tho' she was present, some account of what had passed, but briefly; and I had just finished, and was quitting the room, as the two gentlemen entered the door.
Sir Charles Instantly addressed me with apologies for the concern he had given me. His emotion was visible as he spoke to me. He hesitated: He trembled. Why did he hesitate? Why did he tremble?
I told him, I was not ashamed to own, that I was very much affected by the melancholy story. The poor Lady, said I, is greatly to be pitied—But remember, Sir, what you promised Dr. Bartlett should do for me.
I have been requesting the doctor to fulfil my engagements.
And I am ready to obey, said the good man. My agreeable task shall soon be performed.
As I was at the door, going up stairs to my closet, I curtsied, and pursed my intention.
He bowed, said nothing, and looked, I thought, as if he were disappointed, that I did not return to company.—No, indeed!
Yet I pity him, at my heart! How odd is it, then, to be angry with him!—So much goodness, so much sensibility, so much compassion (whence all his woes, I believe), never met together, in a heart so manly.
Tell me, tell me, my dear Lucy—Yet tell me nothing till I am favoured with, and you have read, the account that will be given me by Dr. Bartlett: Then, I hope, we shall have every-thing before us.
Saturday, March 25.
He [Yet why that disrespectful word?—Fie upon me, for my narrowness of heart!] Sir Charles is setting out for town. He cannot be happy, himself: He is therefore giving himself the pleasure of endeavouring to make his friend happy. He can enjoy the happiness of his friends! O the blessing of a benevolent heart! Let the world frown as it will upon such a one, it cannot possibly bereave it of all happiness.—Fortune do thy worst! If Sir Charles Grandison cannot be happy with his Clementina, he will make himself a partaker of Lord G.'s happiness; and as that will secure, if not her own fault, the happiness of his sister, he will not be destitute of felicity. And let me, after his example—Ah, Lucy! that I could!—But in time, I hope, I shall deserve, as well as be esteemed, to be the girl of my grandmamma and aunt; and then, of course, be worthy to be called, my dear Lucy,
YOUR HARRIET BYRON.
Sir Charles is gone; and I have talked over the matter again with the Ladies and Lord L.
What do you think?—They all will have it—and it is a faithful account, to the very best of my recollection—They all will have it, That Sir Charles's great struggle, his great grief, is owing—His great struggle (I don't know what I write, I think—But let it go) is between his Compassion for the unhappy Clementina, and his Love —for—Somebody else.
But who, my dear, large as his heart is, can be contented with half an heart? Compassion, Lucy!—The compassion of such an heart—It must be Love —And ought it not to be so to such a woman?—Tell me—Don't you, Lucy, with all yours, pity the unhappy Clementina? who loves, against the principles of her religion; and in that respect, against her inclination, a man who cannot be her's, but by a violation of his honour and conscience? What a fatality in a Love so circumstanced!—To love against inclination! What a sound has that! But what an absurdity is this passion called Love? Or, rather, of what absurd things does it make its votaries guilty? Let mine be evermore circumscribed by the laws of reason, of duty; and then my recollections, my reflexions, will never give me lasting disturbance!
Dr. Bartlett has desired me to let him know what the particular passages are, of which I more immediately wish to be informed, for our better understanding the unhappy Clementina's story, and has promised to transcribe them. I have given him a list in writing. I have been half guilty of affectation. I have asked for some particulars that Sir Charles referred to, which are not so immediately interesting. The history of Olivia, of Mr. Beaumont; the debates Sir Charles mentioned, between himself and Signor Jeronymo: But, Lucy, the particulars I am most impatient for, are these:
His first conference with Lady Clementina on the subject of the Count of Belvedere; which her father and mother over-heard.
The conference he was desired to hold with her, on her being seized with melancholy.
Whether her particularly cheerful behaviour, on his departure from Bologna, is any where accounted for.
By what means Mrs. Beaumont prevailed on her to acknowledge a passion so studiously concealed from the tenderest of parents.
Sir Charles's reception, on his return from Vienna.
What reception his proposals of compromise, as to religion and residence, met with, as well from the family, as from Clementina.
The most important of all, Lucy—The last distressful parting: What made it necessary; what happened at Bologna afterwards; and what the poor Clementina's situation now is.
If the doctor is explicit, with regard to this article, we shall be able to account for their desiring him to revisit them at Bologna, after so long an absence, and for his seeming to think it will be to no purpose to oblige them. O Lucy! what a great deal depends upon the answer to this article, as it may happen!—But no more suspense, I beseech you, Sir Charles Grandison! No more suspense, I pray you, Dr. Bartlett! My heart sickens at the thought of farther suspense. I cannot bear it!
Adieu, Lucy! Lengthening my Letter would be only dwelling longer (for I know not how to change my subject) on weaknesses and follies that have already given you too much pain for
Your HARRIET BYRON.
Volume III - lettera 26
Volume III - Letter 27
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Colnebrooke, Monday, Mar. 27.
Dr. Bartlett, seeing our impatience, asked leave to take the assistance of his nephew in transcribing from Sir Charles's Letters the passages that will enable him to perform the task he had so kindly undertaken. By this means, he has already presented us with the following transcripts. We have eagerly perused them. When you have done so, be pleased to hasten them up, that my cousin Reeves's may have the same opportunity. They are so good as to give cheerfully the preference to the venerable circle, as my cousin, who dined with us yesterday, bid me tell you. O my Lucy! what a glorious young man is Sir Charles Grandison! But he had the happiness of a Dr. Bartlett, as he is fond of owning, to improve upon a foundation that was so nobly laid, by the best and wisest of mothers.
Dr. Bartlett's first Letter.
My task, my good Miss Byron, will be easy, by the assistance you have allowed me: For what is it, but to transcribe parts of Sir Charles's Letters, adding a few lines here and there, by way of connexion? And I am delighted with it, as it will make known the heart of my beloved patron in all the lights which the most interesting circumstances can throw upon it, to so many worthy persons as are permitted a share in this confidence.
The first of your commands runs thus—
I should imagine, say you, that the debates Sir Charles mentions, between himself and Signor Jeronymo, and his companions, at their first acquaintance, must be not only curious, but edifying.
They are, my good Miss Byron: But as I presume that you Ladies are more intent upon being obeyed in the other articles [See, Lucy, I had better not have dissembled!] I will only at present transcribe for you, with some short connexions, two Letters; by which you will see how generously Mr. Grandison sought to recover his friend to the paths of virtue and honour, when he had formed schemes, in conjunction with, and by the instigation of, other gay young men of rank, to draw him in to be a partaker in their guilt, and an abettor of their enterprises.
You will judge from these Letters, madam (without shocking you by the recital) what were the common-place pleas of those libertines, despisers of marriage, of the laws of society, and of WOMEN; but as they were subservient to their pleasures.
To the Barone della Porretta.
Will my Jeronymo allow his friend, his Grandison, the liberty he is going to take with him? If the friendship he professes for him be such a one, as a great mind can, on reflexion, glory in, he will. And what is this liberty, but such as constitutes the essence of true friendship? Allow me, on this occasion, to say, that your Grandison has seen more of the world than most men, who have lived no longer in it, have had an opportunity to see. I was sent abroad for improvement, under the care of a man who proved to be the most intriguing and profligate of those to whom a youth was ever entrusted. I saw in him, the inconvenience, the odiousness, of libertinism; and, by the assistance of an excellent monitor, with whom I happily became acquainted, and (would it not be false shame, and cowardice, if I did not say) by the Divine assistance, I escaped snares that were laid to corrupt my morals: Hence my dearest friend will the more readily allow me to impart to him some of the lessons that were of so much use to myself.
I am the rather encouraged to take this liberty, as I have often flattered myself, that I have seen my Jeronymo affected by the arguments urged in the course of the conversations that have been held in our select meetings at Padua, and at Rome; in which the cause of virtue and true honour has been discussed and pleaded.
I have now no hopes of influencing any one of the noble youths, whom, at your request, I have of late so often met: But of you I still have hopes, because you continue to declare, that you prefer my friendship to theirs. You think that I was disgusted at the ridicule with which they generally treated the arguments they could not answer: But, as far as I innocently could, I followed them in their levity. I returned raillery for ridicule, and not always, as you know, unsuccessfully; but still they renewed the charge, and we had the same arguments one day to refute, that the preceding were given up. They could not convince me, nor I them.
I quit therefore (yet not without regret) the society I cannot meet with pleasure: But let not my Jeronymo renounce me. In his opinion I had the honour to stand high, before I was prevailed upon to be introduced to them; we cultivated, with mutual pleasure, each other's acquaintance, independent of this association. Let us be to each other, what we were for the first month of our intimacy. You have noble qualities; but are diffident, and too often suffer yourself to be influenced by men of talents inferior to your own.
The ridicule they have aimed at, has weakened, perhaps, the force of the arguments that I wished to have a more than temporary effect on your heart. Permit me to remind you on paper, of some of them, and urge to you others: The end I have in view is your good, in hopes to confirm, by the efficacy they may have on you, my own principles: Nor think me too serious. The occasion, the call that true friendship makes upon you, is weighty.
You have showed me Letters from your noble father, from your mother, from the pious prelate your brother, and others from your uncle, and still, if possible, more admirable ones, from your sister—All filled with concern for your present and future welfare! How dearly is my Jeronymo beloved by his whole family! and by such a family! And how tenderly does he love them all—What ought to be the result? Jeronymo cannot be ungrateful. He knows so well what belongs to the character of a dutiful son, an affectionate brother, that I will not attempt to enforce their arguments upon him.
By the endeavours of my friend to find excuses for some of the liberties in which he allows himself, I infer, that if he thought them criminal, he has too much honour to be guilty of them. He cannot say, with the mad Medea,
—Video meliora proboque,
No! His judgment must be misled, before he can allow himself in a deviation. But let him beware; for has not every faulty inclination something to plead in its own behalf?—Excuses, my dear friend, are more than tacit confessions: And the health of the mind, as of the body, is impaired by almost imperceptible degrees.
My Jeronymo has pleaded, and justly may he boast of, a disposition to benevolence, charity, generosity—What pity, that he cannot be still more perfect!—that he resolves not against meditated injuries to others of his fellow-creatures! But remember my Lord, that true goodness is an uniform thing, and will alike influence every part of a man's conduct; and that true generosity will not be confined to obligations, either written or verbal.
Besides, who, tho' in the least guilty instance, and where some false virtue may offer colours to palliate an excess, can promise himself to stop, when once he has thrown the reins on the neck of lawless appetite? And may I not add, that my Jeronymo is not in his own power? He suffers himself to be a led man!—O that he would choose his company anew, and be a leader! Every virtue, then, that warms his heart, would have a sister-virtue to encourage the noble flame, instead of a vice to damp it.
Justly do you boast of the nobility of your descent; of the excellence of every branch of your family. Bear with my question, my Lord; Are you determined to sit down satisfied with the honour of your ancestors? Your progenitors, and every one of your family, have given you reason to applaud their worthiness: Will you not give them cause to boast of yours?
In answer to the earnest entreaties of all your friends, that you will marry, you have said, that, were women angels, you would with joy enter into the state—But what ought the men to be, who form upon women such expectations?
Can you, my dear Lord, despise matrimony, yet hold it to be a sacrament? Can you, defying the maxims of your family, and wishing to have the Sister I have heard you mention with such high delight and admiration, strengthen your family-interest in the female line, determine against adding to its strength in the male?
You have suffered yourself to speak with contempt of the generality of the Italian women, for their illiterateness: Let not their misfortune be imputed to them, my noble friend, as their fault. They have the same natural genius's that used to distinguish the men and women of your happy climate. Let not the want of cultivation induce you, a learned man, to hold them cheap. The cause of virtue, and of the sex, can hardly be separated.
But, O my friend, my Jeronymo, have I not too much reason to fear, that guilty attachments have been the cause of your slighting a legal one? That you are studying pretences to justify the way of life into which you have fallen?
Let us consider the objects of your pursuit—Alas! there have been more than one: Are they women seduced from the path of virtue by yourself?—Who otherwise perhaps would have married, and made useful members of society?—Consider, my friend, what a capital crime is a seduction of this kind!—Can you glory in the virtue of a sister of your own, and allow yourself in attempts upon the daughter, the sister, of another? And, let me ask, How can that crime be thought pardonable in a man, which renders a woman infamous?
A good heart, a delicate mind, cannot associate with a corrupt one. What tie can bind a woman, who has parted with her honour? What, in such a guilty attachment, must be a man's alternative, but either to be the tyrant of a wretch who has given him reason to despise her, or the dupe of one who despises him?
It is the important lesson of life (allow me to be serious on a subject so serious) in this union of soul and body, to restrain the unruly appetites of the latter, and to improve the faculties of the former—Can this end be attained by licentious indulgences, and profligate associations?
Men, in the pride of their hearts, are apt to suppose, that nature has designed them to be superior to women. The highest proof that can be given, of such superiority, is, in the protection afforded by the stronger to the weaker. What can that man say for himself, or for his proud pretension, who employs all his arts to seduce, betray, and ruin the creature whom he should guide and protect—Sedulous to save her, perhaps, from every foe, but the devil and himself!
It is unworthy of a man of spirit to be solicitous to keep himself within the boundaries of human laws, on no other motive than to avoid the temporal inconveniencies attending the breach of them. The laws were not made so much for the direction of good men, as to circumscribe the bad. Would a man of honour wish to be considered as one of the latter, rather than as one of those who would have distinguished the fit from the unfit, had they not been discriminated by human sanctions? Men are to approve themselves at an higher tribunal than at that of men.
Shall not public spirit, virtue, and a sense of duty, have as much influence on a manly heart, as a new face? How contemptibly low is that commerce in which mind has no share!
Virtuous love, my dear Jeronymo, looks beyond this temporary scene; while guilty attachments usually find a much earlier period than that of human life. Inconstancy, on one side or the other, seldom fails to put a disgraceful end to them. But were they to endure for life, what can the reflexions upon them do towards softening the agonies of the inevitable hour?
Remember, my Jeronymo, that you are a MAN, a rational and immortal agent; and act up to the dignity of your nature. Can sensual pleasure be the great end of an immortal spirit in this life?
That pleasure cannot be lasting, and it must be followed by remorse, which is obtained either by doing injustice to, or degrading, a fellow-creature. And does not a woman, when she forfeits her honour, degrade herself, not only in the sight of the world, but in the secret thoughts of even a profligate lover, destroying her own consequence with him?
Build not, my noble friend, upon penances and absolutions: I enter not into those subjects on which we differ as Catholics and Protestants: But if we would be thought men of true greatness of mind, let us endeavour so to act, as not, in essential articles, and with our eyes open, either to want absolution, or incur penances. Surely, my Lord, it is nobler not to offend, than to be obliged to atone.
Are there not, let me ask, innocent delights enow to fill with joy every vacant hour? Believe me, Jeronymo, there are. Let you and me seek for such, and make them the cement of our friendship.
Religion out of the question, consider, what morals and good policy will oblige you to do, as a man born to act a part in public life. What, were the examples set by you and your acquaintance, to be generally followed, would become of public order and decorum? What of national honours? How will a regular succession in families be kept up? You, my Lord, boast of your descent, both by father's and mother's side; Why will you deprive your children of a distinction in which you glory?
Good children, what a blessing to their parents! But what comfort can the parent have in children born into the world heirs of disgrace, and who, owing their very being to profligate principles, have no family honour to support, no fair example to imitate, but must be warned by their father, when bitter experience has convinced him of his errors, to avoid the paths in which he has trod?
How delightful the domestic connexion! To bring to the paternal and fraternal dwellings, a sister, a daughter, that shall be received there with tender love; to strengthen your own interest in the world by alliance with some noble and worthy family, who shall rejoice to trust to the Barone della Porretta the darling of their hopes—This would, to a generous heart, like yours, be the source of infinite delights. But could you now think of introducing to the friends you revere, the unhappy objects of a vagrant affection? Must not my Jeronymo even estrange himself from his home, to conceal from his father, from his mother, from his sister, persons shut out by all the laws of honour from their society? The persons, so shut out, must hate the family to whose interests theirs are so contrary. What sincere union then, what sameness of affection, between Jeronymo and the objects of his passion?
But the present hour dances delightfully away, and my friend will not look beyond it. His gay companions applaud and compliment him on his triumphs. In general, perhaps, he allows, 'that the welfare and order of society ought to be maintained by submission to Divine and human laws; but his single exception for himself can be of no importance.' Of what, then, is general practice made up? If every one excepts himself, and offends in the instance that best suits his inclination, what a scene of horror will this world become: Affluence and a gay disposition tempt to licentious pleasures; penury and a gloomy one to robbery, revenge, and murder. Not one enormity will be without its plea, if once the boundaries of duty are thrown down. But, even in this universal depravity, would not his crime be much worse, who robbed me of my child from riot and licentiousness, and under a guise of love and trust, than his who despoiled me of my substance, and had necessity to plead in extenuation of his guilt?
I cannot doubt, my dear friend, but you will take, at least kindly, these expostulations, tho' some of them are upon subjects on which our conversations have been hitherto ineffectual. I submit them to your consideration. I can have no interest in making them, nor motive, but what proceeds from that true friendship with which I desire to be thought
Most affectionately yours.
You have heard, my good Miss Byron, that the friendship between Mr. Grandison and Signor Jeronymo was twice broken off: Once it was, by the unkindly-taken freedom of the expostulatory Letter. Jeronymo, at that time of his life, ill brooked opposition in any pursuit his heart was engaged in. When pushed, he was vehement; and Mr. Grandison could not be over-solicitous to keep up a friendship with a young man who was under the dominion of his dissolute companions; and who would not allow of remonstrances, in cases that concerned his morals.
Jeronymo, having afterwards been drawn into great inconveniencies by his libertine friends, broke with them; and Mr. Grandison and he meeting by accident at Padua, their friendship, at the pressing instances of Jeronymo, was again renewed.
Jeronymo thought himself reformed; Mr. Grandison hoped he was: But, soon after, a temptation fell in his way, which he could not resist. It was from a Lady who was more noted for her birth, beauty, and fortune, than for her virtue. She had spread her snares for Mr. Grandison before Jeronymo became acquainted with her; and revenge for her slighted advances taking possession of her heart, she hoped an opportunity would be afforded her of wreaking it upon him.
The occasion was given by the following Letter, which Mr. Grandison thought himself obliged, in honour, to write to his friend, on his attachment; the one being then at Padua, the other at Cremona:
I am extremely concerned, my dear Jeronymo, at your new engagement with a Lady, who, tho' of family and fortune, has shown but little regard to her character. How frail are the resolutions of men! How much in the power of women! But I will not recriminate—Yet I cannot but regret, that I must lose your company in our projected visits to the German courts: This, however, more for your sake than my own; since to the principal of them I am no stranger. You have excused yourself to me; I wish you had a better motive: But I write rather to warn than to upbraid you. This Lady is mistress of all the arts of woman. She may glory in her conquest; you ought not to be proud of yours. You will not, when you know her better. I have had a singular opportunity of being acquainted with her character. I never judged of characters, of women's especially, by report. Had the Barone della Porretta been the first for whom this Lady spread her blandishments, a man so amiable as he is, might the more assuredly have depended on the love she professes for him. She has two admirers, men of violence, who, unknown to each other, have equal reason to look upon her as their own. You propose not to marry her. I am silent on this subject. Would to heaven you were married to a woman of virtue! Why will you not oblige all your friends? Thus liable as you are—But neither do I expostulate. Well do I know the vehemence with which you are wont to pursue a new adventure. Yet I had hoped—But again I restrain myself. Only let me add, that the man who shall boast of his success with this Lady, may have more to apprehend from the competition in which he will find himself engaged, than he can be aware of. Be prudent, my Jeronymo, in this pursuit, for your own sake. The heart that dictates this advice is wholly yours: But alas! it boasts no further interest in that of its Jeronymo. With infinite regret I subscribe to the latter part of the sentence the once better-regarded name of
And what was the consequence? The unhappy youth, by the instigation of the revengeful woman, defied his friend, in her behalf. Mr. Grandison, with a noble disdain, appealed to Jeronymo's cooler deliberation; and told him, that he never would meet, as a foe, the man he had ever been desirous to consider as his friend. You know, my Lord, said he, that I am under a disadvantage in having once been obliged to assert myself, in a country where I have no natural connexions; and where you, Jeronymo, have many. If we meet again, I do assure you, it must be by accident—and if that happens, we shall then find it time enough to discuss the occasion of our present misunderstanding.
Their next meeting was indeed by accident. It was in the Cremonese; when Mr. Grandison saved his life.
And now, madam, let me give you, in obedience to your second command,
The particulars of the conference which Sir Charles was put upon holding with Clementina, in savour of the Count of Belvedere; and which her father and mother, unknown to either of them, over-heard.
You must suppose them seated; a Milton's Paradise Lost before them: And that, at this time, Mr. Grandison did not presume that the young Lady had any particular regard for him.
Clementina. You have taught the prelate, and you have taught the soldier, to be in love with your Milton, Sir: But I shall never admire him, I doubt. Don't you reckon the language hard and crabbed?
Grandison. I did not propose him to you, madam: Your brother chose him. We should not have made the proficiency we have, had I not begun with you by easier authors. But you have often heard me call him a sublime poet, and your ambition (it is a laudable one) leads you to make him your own too soon. Has not your tutor taken the liberty to chide you for your impatience; for your desire of being every-thing at once?
Clem. You have; and I own my fault.—But to have done, for the present, with Milton; What shall I do to acquit myself of the addresses of this Count of Belvedere?
Gr. Why would you acquit yourself of the Count's addresses?
Clem. He is not the man I can like: I have told my papa as much, and he is angry with me.
Gr. I think, madam, your papa may be a little displeased with you; tho' he loves you too tenderly to be angry with you. You reject the Count, without assigning a reason.
Clem. Is it not reason enough, that I don't like him?
Gr. Give me leave to say, that the Count is an handsome man. He is young; gallant; sensible; of a family ancient and noble; a grace to it. He is learned, good-natured: He adores you—
Clem. And so let him, if he will, I never can like him.
Gr. Dear Lady! You must not be capricious. You will give the most indulgent parents in the world apprehension that you have cast your thoughts on some other object. Young Ladies, except in a case of prepossession, do not often reject a person who has so many great and good qualities as shine in this gentleman; and where equality of degree, and a father's and mother's high approbation, add to his merit.
Clem. I suppose you have been spoken to, to talk with me on this subject—It is a subject I don't like.
Gr. You began it, Madam.
Clem. I did so; because it is uppermost with me. I am grieved at my heart, that I cannot see the Count with my father's eyes: My father deserves from me every instance of duty, and love, and veneration; but I cannot think of the Count of Belvedere for an husband.
Gr. One reason, madam? One objection?
Clem. He is a man that is not to my mind: A fawning, cringing man, I think.—And a spirit that can fawn and cringe, and kneel, will be a tyrant in power.
Gr. Dear madam, To whom is he this obsequious man, but to you?—Is there a man in the world that behaves with a more proper dignity to every one else? Nay, to you, the Lover shines out in him, but the Man is not forgot. Is the tenderness of well-placed Love, the veneration paid to a deservedly beloved object, any derogation to the manly character? Far from it; and shall you think the less of your Lover, for being the most ardent, and, I have no knowledge in man, if he is not the most sincere, of men?
Clem. An excellent advocate!—I am sure you have been spoken to—Have you not? Tell me truly? Perhaps by the Count of Belvedere?
Gr. I should not think, and, of consequence, not speak, so highly as I do, of the Count, if he were capable of asking any man, your father and brothers excepted, to plead his cause with you.
Clem. I can't bear to be chidden, Chevalier. Now you are going to be angry with me too. But has not my mamma spoken to you? Tell me?
Gr. Dear Lady, consider, if she had, what you owe to a mamma, who deserving, for her tenderness to her child, the utmost observance and duty, would condescend to put her authority into a mediation. And yet, let me declare, that no person breathing should make me say what I do not think, whether in favour or disfavour of any man.
Clem. That is no answer. I owe implicit, yes, I will say implicit, duty to my mamma, for her indulgence to me: But what you have said is no direct answer.
Gr. For the honour of that indulgence, madam, I own to you, that your mamma, and my Lord too, have wished that their Clementina could or would give one substantial reason why she cannot like the Count of Belvedere; that they might prepare themselves to acquiesce with it, and the Count be induced to submit to his evil destiny.
Clem. And they have wished this to you, Sir? And you have taken upon you to answer their wishes—I protest, you are a man of prodigious consequence, with us all; and by your readiness to take up the cause of a man you have so lately known, you seem to know it, too well.
Gr. I am sorry I have incurred your displeasure, madam.
Clem. You have. I never was more angry with you, than I now am.
Gr. I hope you never was angry with me before. I never gave you reason, And if I have now, I beg your pardon.
I arose to go.
Clem. Very humble, Sir!—And are for going before you have it. Now call me capricious, again!
Gr. I did not know that you could be so easily displeased, madam.
Clem. I am a very weak creature: I believe I am wrong: But I never knew what it was to give offence to any-body till within these few months. I love my father, I love my mother, beyond my own life; and to think that now, when I wish most for the continuance of their goodness to me, I am in danger of forfeiting it!—I can't bear it!—Do you forgive me, however. I believe I have been too petulant to you. Your behaviour is noble, frank, disinterested. It has been a happiness that we have known you. You are every-body's friend. But yet I think it is a little officious in you to plead so very warmly for a man of whom you know so little; and when I told you, more than once, I could not like him.
Gr. Honoured as I am, by your whole family, with the appellation of a fourth son, a fourth brother; dear madam, was I to blame to act up to the character? I know my own heart; and if I have consequence given me, I will act so, as to deserve it; at least, my own heart shall give it to me.
Clem. Well, Sir, you may be right: I am sure you mean to be right. But as it would be a diminution of the Count's dignity, to apply to you for a supposed interest in you, which he cannot have, it would be much more so, to have you interfere where a father, mother, and other brothers [You see, Sir, I allow your claim of fourth brotherhood] are supposed to have less weight: So no more of the Count of Belvedere, I beseech you, from your mouth.
Gr. One word more, only—Don't let the goodness of your father and mother be construed to the disadvantage of the parental character in them. They have not been positive: They have given their wishes, rather then their commands. Their tenderness for you, in a point so very tender, has made them unable to tell their own wishes to you, for fear they should not meet with yours; yet would be, perhaps, glad to hear one solid objection to their proposal—And why; That they might admit of it—impute, therefore, to my officiousness, what you please; and yet I would not wish to disoblige or offend you; but let their indulgence, they never will use their authority, have its full merit with you.
Clem. Your servant, Sir. I never yet had a slight notion of their indulgence; and I hope I never shall. If you will go, go: But, Sir, next time I am favoured with your lectures, it shall be upon Languages, if you please; and not upon Lovers.
I withdrew, profoundly bowing. But surely, thought I, the lovely Clementina is capricious.
Thus far my patron.—Let me add, That the Marchioness having acquainted Mr. Grandison, that her Lord and she had heard every word that had passed, expressed her displeasure at her daughter's petulance; and, thanking him in her Lord's name, as well as for herself, for the generous part he had taken, told him, that Clementina should ask his pardon. He begged that, for the sake of their own weight with her on the same subject, she might not know that they had heard what had passed.
I believe that's best, Chevalier, answered the Marchioness; and I am apt to think, that the poor girl will be more ready than perhaps one would wish, to make up with you, were she to find you offended with her in earnest; as you have reason to be, as a disinterested man.
You see, Chevalier, I know to whom I am speaking; but both my Lord, and self, hope to see her of another mind; and that she will soon be Countess of Belvedere. My Lord's heart is in this alliance; so is that of my son Giacomo.
I come now, madam, to your third command; which is, To give you,
The conference which Sir Charles was put upon holding with the unhappy Clementina, on her being seized with melancholy. [Mr. Grandison still not presuming on any particular favour from Clementina.]
The young Lady was walking in one alley of the garden; Mr. Grandison, and the Marquis and Marchioness, in another. She was attended by her woman, who walked behind her; and with whom she was displeased for endeavouring to divert her; but who, however, seemed to be talking on, tho' without being answered.
The dear creature! said the Marquis, tears in his eyes,—See her there, now walking slow, now with quicker steps, as if she would shake off her Camilla. She hates the poor woman for her love to her: But who is it that she sees with pleasure? Did I think that I should ever behold the pride of my heart, with the pain that I now feel for her? Yet she is lovely in my eye, in all she does, in all she says—But, O my dear Grandison, we cannot now make her speak, more than Yes, or No. We cannot engage her in a conversation, no not on the subject of her newly-acquired language. See if you can on any subject.
Ay, Chevalier, said the Marchioness, do you try to engage her. We have told her, that we will not talk of marriage to her at all, till she is herself inclined to receive proposals. Her weeping eyes thank us for our indulgence: She prays for us with lifted-up hand: She curtsies her thanks, if she stands before us: She bows, in acknowledged gratitude for our goodness to her, if she sits; but she cares not to speak. She is not easy while we are talking to her. See! she is stepping into the Greek temple; her poor woman, unanswered, talking to her. She has not seen us. By that winding walk we can, unseen, place ourselves in the myrtle-grove, and hear what passes.
The Marchioness, as we walked, hinted, that in their last visit to the General at Naples, there was a Count Marulli, a young nobleman of merit, but a soldier of fortune, who would have clandestinely obtained the attention of their Clementina. They knew nothing of it till last night, she said; when herself and Camilla, puzzling to what to attribute the sudden melancholy turn of her daughter, and Camilla mentioning what was unlikely, as well as likely; told her, that the Count would have bribed her to deliver a Letter to the young Lady; but that she repulsed him with indignation: He besought her then to take no notice of his offer, to the General, on whom all his fortunes depended. She did not, for that reason, to any-body; but, a few days since, she heard her young Lady (talking of the gentleman she had seen at Naples) mention the young Count favourably—Now it is impossible there can be any-thing in it, said the Marchioness: But do you, however, Chevalier, lead to the subject of Love, but at distance; nor name Marulli, because she will think you have been talking with Camilla. The dear girl has pride: She would not endure you, if she thought you imagined her to be in Love, especially with a man of inferior degree, or dependent fortunes. But on your prudence we wholly rely; mention it, or not, as matters fall in.
There can be no room for this surmise, my dear, said the Marquis; and yet Marulli was lately in Bologna: But Clementina's spirit will not permit her to encourage a clandestine address.
By this time we had got to the myrtle-grove, behind the temple, and over-heard them talk, as follows:
Camilla. And why, why must I leave you, madam?—From infancy you know how I have loved you. You used to love to hold converse with your Camilla. How have I offended you? I will not enter this temple till you give leave; but indeed, indeed, I must not, I cannot leave you.
Clem. Officious Love!—Can there be a greater torment than an officious prating Love!—If you loved me, you would wish to oblige me.
Cam. I will oblige you, my dear young Lady, in every thing I can—
Clem. Then leave me, Camilla. I am best when I am alone: I am cheerfullest when I am alone. You haunt me, Camilla; like a ghost you haunt me, Camilla. Indeed you are but the ghost of my once obliging Camilla.
Cam. My dearest young Lady, let me beseech you—
Clem. Ay, now you come with your beseeches again: But if you love me, Camilla, leave me. Am I not to be trusted with myself? Were I a vile young creature, that was suspected to be running away with some base-born man, you could not be more watchful of my steps.
Camilla would have entered into farther talk with her; but she absolutely forbad her.
Talk till doomsday, I will not say one word more to you, Camilla. I will be silent. I will stop my ears.
They were both silent. Camilla seemed to weep.
Now, my dear Chevalier, whispered the Marquis, put yourself in her sight; engage her into talk about England, or any-thing: You will have an hour good before dinner. I hope she will be cheerful at table: She must be present; our guests will enquire after her. Reports have gone out, as if her head is hurt.
I am afraid, my Lord, that this is an unseasonable moment. She seems to be out of humour; and, pardon me if I say, that Camilla, good woman as she is, and well-meaning, had better give way to her young Lady's humour, at such times.
Then, said the Marchioness, will her malady get head; then will it become habit. But my Lord and I will remain where we are, for a few minutes, and do you try to engage her in conversation. I would have her be cheerful before the Patriarch, however; he will expect to see her. She is as much his delight, as she is ours.
I took a little turn; and entering the walk, which led to the temple, appeared in her sight; but bowed, on seeing her sitting in it. Her woman stood silent, with her handkerchief at her eyes, at the entrance. I quickened my steps, as if I would not break into her retirement, and passed by; but, by means of the winding walk, could hear what she said.
She arose; and stepping forward, looking after me, He is gone, said she. Learn, Camilla, of the Chevalier Grandison—
Shall I call him back, madam?
No. Yes. No. Let him go. I will walk. You may now leave me, Camilla: There is somebody in the garden who will watch me: Or you may stay, Camilla; I don't care which: Only don't talk to me when I wish you to be silent.
She went into an alley that crossed the alley in which I was, but took the walk that led from me. When we came to the centre of both, and were very near each other, I bowed; she curtsied; but not seeming to encourage my nearer approach, I made a motion, as if I would take another walk. She stopped. Learn of the Chevalier Grandison, Camilla, repeated she.
May I presume, madam? Do I not invade—
Camilla is a little officious to-day: Camilla has teased me. Are the poets of your country as severe upon women's tongues, as the poets of ours?
Poets, madam, of all countries, boast the same inspiration: Poets write, as other men speak, to their feeling.
So, Sir!—You make a pretty compliment to us poor women.
Poets have finer imaginations, madam, than other men; they therefore feel quicker: But as they are not often entitled to boast of Judgment (for imagination and judgment seldom go together) they may, perhaps, give the cause, and then break out into satire upon the effects.
Don't I see before me, in the Orange-grove, my father and mother? I do. I have not kneeled to them to-day. Don't go, Chevalier.
She hastened towards them. They stopped. She bent her knee to each, and received their tender blessings. They led her towards me. You seemed engaged in talk with the Chevalier, my dear, said the Marquis. Your mamma and I were walking in. We leave you—They did.
The best of parents! said she. O that I were a more worthy child!—Have you not seen them, Sir, before to day?
I have, madam. They think you the worthiest of daughters; but they lament your thoughtful turn.
They are very good. I am grieved to give them trouble. Have they expressed their concern to you, Sir?—I will not be so petulant as I was once before, provided you keep clear of the same subject. You are the confident of us all; and your noble and disinterested behaviour deservedly endears you to everybody.
They have been this very morning, lamenting the melancholy turn you seem to have taken. With tears they have been lamenting it.
Camilla, you may draw near: You will hear your own cause supported. The rather draw near, and hear all the Chevalier seems to be going to say; because it may save you and me too a great deal of trouble.
Madam, I have done, said I.
But you must not have done. If you are commissioned, Sir, by my father and mother, I am, I ought to be, prepared to hear all you have to say.
Camilla came up.
My dearest young Lady, said I, What can I say? My wishes for your happiness may make me appear importunate: But what hope have I of obtaining your confidence, when your mother fails?
What, Sir, is aimed at? What is sought to be obtained? I am not very well: I used to be a very sprightly creature: I used to talk, to sing, to dance, to play; to visit, to receive visits: And I don't like to do any of these things now. I love to be alone: I am contented with my own company. Other company is, at times, irksome to me; and I can't help it.
But whence this sudden turn, madam, in a Lady so young, so blooming? Your father, mother, brothers, cannot account for it; and this disturbs them.
I see it does, and am sorry for it.
No other favourite diversion takes place in your mind. You are a young Lady of exemplary piety: You cannot pay a greater observance than you always paid, to the duties of religion.
You, Sir, an Englishman, an heretic, give me leave to call you; for are you not so?—Do you talk of piety, of religion?
We will not enter into this subject, madam: What I meant—
Yes, Sir, I know what you meant—And I will own, that I am, at times, a very melancholy strange creature. I know not whence the alteration; but to it is; and I am a greater trouble to myself than I can be to any-body else.
But, madam, there must be some cause—And for you to answer the best and most indulgent of mothers with sighs and tears only; yet no obstinacy, no sullenness, no petulance, appearing: All the same sweetness, gentleness, observance, that she ever rejoiced to find in her Clementina, still shining out in her mind. She cannot urge her silent daughter; her tenderness will not permit her to urge her: And how can you, my Sister (Allow of my claim, madam) How can you still silently withdraw from such a mother? How can you, at other times, suffer her to withdraw, her heart full, her eyes running over, unable to stay, yet hardly knowing how to go, because of the ineffectual report she must make to your sorrowing father; yet the cause of this very great alteration (which they dread is growing into an habit, at a time of life when you were to crown all their hopes) a Secret fast locked up in your own heart?
She wept, and turned from me, and leaned upon the arm of her Camilla; and then quitting her arm, and joining me, How you paint my obstinacy, and my mamma's goodness! I only wish—With all my soul, I wish—that I was added to the dust of my ancestors. I who was their comfort, I see, now, must be their torment.
Fie, fie, my sister!
Blame me not: I am by no means satisfied with myself. What a miserable thing must she be, who is at variance with herself?
I do not hope, madam, that you should place so much confidence in your fourth brother as to open your mind to him: All I beg is, that you will relieve the anxious, the apprehensive heart of the best of mothers; and, by so doing, enable her to relieve the equally-anxious heart of the best of fathers.
She paused, stood still, turned away her face, and wept; as if half overcome.
Let your faithful Camilla, madam, be commissioned to acquaint your mamma—
But hold, Sir! (seeming to recollect herself) not so fast—Open my mind —What! whether I have anything to reveal, or not?—Insinuating man! You had almost persuaded me to think I had a secret that lay heavy at my heart: And when I began to look for it, to oblige you, I could not find it. Pray, Sir—She stopped.
And pray, madam (taking her hand) Do not think of receding thus—
You are too free, Sir. Yet she withdrew not her hand.
For a brother, madam? Too free for a brother? And I quitted it.
Well, and what farther would my brother?
Only to implore, to beseech you, to reveal to your mamma, to your excellent, your indulgent—
Stop, Sir, I beseech you—What! Whether I have any-thing to reveal, or not?—Pray, Sir, tell me, invent for me, a Secret that is fit for me to own; and then, perhaps, if it will save the trouble of enquiries, I may make, at least, my four brothers easy.
I am pleased, however, madam, with your agreeable raillery. Continue but in this temper, and the Secret is revealed: Enquiry will be at an end.
Camilla, here, is continually teasing me with her persuasions to be in Love, as she calls it: That is the silly thing, in our sex, which gives importance to yours. A young creature cannot be grave, cannot indulge a contemplative humour, but she must be in Love. I should hate myself, were I to put it in the power of any man breathing to give me uneasiness. I hope, Sir, I hope, that you, my brother, have not so poor, so low, so mean a thought of me.
It is neither poor, nor low; it is not mean, to be in Love, madam.
What! not with an improper object?
What have I said? You want to—But what I have now said, was to introduce what I am going to tell you; that I saw your insinuation, and what it tended to, when you read to me those lines of your Shakespeare; which in your heart, I suppose, you had the goodness, or what shall I call it? to apply to me. Let me see if I can repeat them to you in their original English.
With the accent of her country, she very prettily repeated those lines:
—She never told her love;
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: She pin'd in thought;
And, with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat, like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.—
Now, Chevalier, if you had any design in your pointing to these very pretty lines, I will only say, you are mistaken; and so are all those who affront and afflict me, with attributing my malady to so great a weakness.
I meant not at the time, madam—
Nor now, I hope, Sir—
Any such application of the lines. How could I? Your refusal of many Lovers; your declining the proposals of a man of the Count of Belvedere's consequence and merit; tho' approved of by every one of your friends; are convictions—
See, Camilla! interrupting me with quickness, the Chevalier is convinced!—Pray let me have no more of your affronting questions and conjectures on this subject. I tell you, Camilla, I would not be in Love for the world, and all its glory.
But, madam, if you will be pleased to assign one cause, to your mamma, for the melancholy turn your lively temper has taken, you will free yourself from a suspicion that gives you pain, as well as displeasure. Perhaps you are grieved, that you cannot comply with your father's views—Perhaps—
Assign one cause, again interrupted she—Assign one cause! —Why, Sir—I am not well—I am not pleased with myself—as I told you.
If it were any-thing that lay upon your mind, your conscience, madam, your confessor—
Would not make me easy. He is a good, but (turning aside and speaking low) a severe man. Camilla hears not what I say [Camilla dropped behind]. He is more afraid of me, in some cases, than he need to be. And why? Because you have almost persuaded me to think charitably of people of different persuasions, by your noble charity of all mankind: Which I think, heretic as you are, forgive me, Sir, carries an appearance of true Christian goodness in it: Tho' Protestants, it seems, will persecute one another; but you would not be one of those, except you are one man in Italy, another in England.
Your mother, madam, will ask, If you have honoured me with any part of your confidence? Her communicative goodness makes her think every-body should be as unreserved as herself. Your father is so good as to allow you to explain yourself to me, when he wishes that I could prevail upon you to open your mind to me in the character of a fourth brother My Lord the Bishop—
Yes, yes, Sir, interrupted she, all our family worships you almost. I have myself a very great regard for you, as the fourth brother who has been the deliverer and preserver of my third. But, Sir, who can prevail upon you, in any thing you are determined upon?—Had I any thing upon my heart, I would not tell it to one, who, brought up in error, shuts his eyes against conviction, in an article in which his everlasting good is concerned. Let me call you a Catholic, Sir, and I will not keep a thought of my heart from you. You shall indeed be my brother; and I shall free one of the holiest of men from his apprehensions on my conversing with so determined an heretic as he thinks you. Then shall you, as my brother, command those Secrets, if any I have, from that heart in which you think them locked up.
Why then, madam, will you not declare them to your mamma, to your confessor, to my Lord Bishop?
Did I not say, If any I have?
And is your reverend confessor uneasy at the favour of the family to me?—How causeless!—Have I ever, madam, talked with you on the subject of religion?
Well but, Sir, are you so obstinately determined in your errors, that there is no hope of convincing you? I really look upon you, as my papa and mamma first bid me do, as my fourth brother: I should be glad that all my brothers were of one religion. Will you allow Father Marescotti and Father Geraldino to enter into a conference with you on this subject? And if they answer all your objections, will you act according to your convictions?
I will not, by any means, madam, enter upon this subject.
I have long intended, Sir, to propose this matter to you.
You have often intimated as much, madam, tho' not so directly as now; but the religion of my country is the religion of my choice. I have a great deal to say for it. It will not be heard with patience by such strict professors as either of those you have named. Were I to be questioned on this subject before the Pope, and the whole Sacred College, I would not prevaricate: But good manners will make me show respect to the religion of the country I happen to be in, were it the Mahometan, or even the Pagan; and to venerate the good men of it: But I never will enter into debate upon the subject as a traveller, a sojourner; that is a rule with me.
Well, Sir, you are an obstinate man, that's all I will say. I pity you; with all my soul I pity you: You have great and good qualities. As I have sat at table with you, and heard you converse on subjects that every one has in silence admired you for, I have often thought to myself, Surely this man was not designed for perdition!—But begone, Chevalier; leave me. You are an obstinate man. Yours is the worst of obstinacy; for you will not give yourself a chance for conviction.
We have so far departed from the subject we began upon, that it is proper to obey you, madam. I only beg that my Sister—
Not so far departed from it, perhaps, as you imagine, interrupted she; and turned a blushing cheek from me—But what do you beg of your Sister?
That she will rejoice the most indulgent of parents, and the most affectionate of brothers, with a cheerful aspect at table, especially before the Patriarch. Do not, madam, in silence—
You find, Sir, I have been talkative enough with you. —Shall we go thro' your Shakespeare's Hamlet, to-night?—Farewell, Chevalier. I will try to be cheerful at table: But let not your eye, if I am not, reproach me.—She took another walk.
I was loth, my dear Dr. Bartlett, to impute to myself the consequence with this amiable Lady, that might but naturally be inferred from the turn which the conversation took; but I thought it no more than justice to the whole family, to hasten my departure: And when I hinted to Clementina, that I should soon take leave of them, I was rejoiced to find her unconcerned.
This, my good Miss Byron, is what I find in my patron's Letters relating to this conference. He takes notice, that the young Lady behaved herself at table as she was wished to do.
Mr. Grandison was prevailed upon, by the entreaties of the whole family, to suspend his departure for a few days.
The young Lady's melancholy, to the inexpressible affliction of her friends, increased; yet she behaved with so much greatness of mind, that neither her mother nor her Camilla could persuade themselves that Love was the cause. They sometimes imagined, that the earnestness with which they solicited the interest of the Count of Belvedere with her, had hurried and affected her delicate spirits; and therefore they were resolved to say little more on that subject till they should see her disposed to lend a more favourable ear to it: And the Count retired to his own palace in Parma, expecting and hoping for such a turn in his favour: For he declared, That it was impossible for him to think of any other woman for a wife.
But Signor Jeronymo doubted not, all this time, of the cause; and, without letting any-body into his opinion, not even Mr. Grandison, for fear a disappointment would affect him, resolved to make use of every opportunity that should offer, in favour of the man he loved, from a principle of gratitude, that reigned with exemplary force in the breast of every one of this noble family; a principle which took the firmer root in their hearts, as the prudence, generosity, magnanimity, and other great and equally-amiable qualities of Mr. Grandison, appeared every day more and more conspicuous to them all.
I will soon, madam, present you with farther extracts from the Letters in my possession, in pursuance of the articles you have given me in writing. I am not a little proud of my task.
Continuation of Miss Byron's Letter.
Can you not, Lucy, gather from the setting-out of this story, and the short account of it given by Sir Charles in the Library-conference, that I shall soon pay my duty to you all in Northamptonshire? I shall, indeed.
Is it not strange, my dear, that a father and mother, and brothers, so jealous as Italians, in general, are said to be, of their women; and so proud as this Bologna family is represented to be of their rank; should all agree to give so fine a man, as this is, in mind, person and address, such free access to their daughter, a young Lady of Eighteen?
Teach her English!—Very discreet in the father and mother, surely! And to commission him to talk with the poor girl in favour of a man whom they wished her to marry!—Indeed you will say, perhaps, that by the honourable expedient they fell upon, unknown to either tutor or pupil, of listening to all that was to pass in the conference, they found a method to prove his integrity; and that, finding it proof, they were justified to prudence in their future confidence.
With all my heart, Lucy: If you will excuse these parents, you may. But I say, that any body, tho' not of Italy, might have thought such a tutor as this was dangerous to a young Lady; and the more, for being a man of honour and family. In every case, the teacher is the obliger. He is called master, you know: And where there is a master, a servant is implied.
Who is it that seeks not out for a married man, among the common tribe of tutors, whether professing music, dancing, languages, science of any kind? But a tutor such a one as this —
Well, but I will leave them to pay the price of their indiscretion.
I am this moment come from the doctor. I insinuated to him, as artfully as I could, some of the above observations. He reminded me, that the Marchioness herself had her education at Paris; and says, that the manners of the Italians are very much altered of late years; and that the French freedom begins to take place among the people of condition, in a very visible manner, of the Italian reserve. The women of the family of Porretta, particularly, he says, because of their learning, freedom, and conversableness, have been called, by their enemies, Frenchwomen.
But you will see, that honour, and the laws of hospitality, were Mr. Grandison's guard: And I believe a young flame may be easily kept under. But it is a grateful thing, Lucy, to all women, to have a man in Love, whether with ourselves, or not; and the more grateful, perhaps, the less prudent. Yet, ought it to be so? Sir Charles Grandison is used to do only what he ought. Dr. Bartlett once said, that the life of a good man was a continual warfare with his passions.
You will see, in the second conference between Mr. Grandison and the Lady, upon the melancholy way she was in, how artfully, yet, I must own, honourably, he reminds her of the brotherly character which he passes under to her! How officiously he sisters her!
Ah, Lucy! your Harriet is his sister too, you know! He has been used to this dialect, and to check the passions of us forward girls; and yet I have gone on confessing mine to the whole venerable circle, and have almost gloried in it to them. Have not also his sisters detected me? While the noble Clementina, as in that admirable passage cited by her,
—Never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.—
How do I admire her for her silence! But yet, had she been circumstanced as your Harriet was, would Clementina have been so very reserved?
Shall I run a parallel between our two cases?And
is not suspense enough to make it pale, tho' it has not yet given it a green and yellow cast? O what tortures has suspense given me! But certainty is now taking place.
What a right method, Lucy, did Clementina, so much in earnest in her own persuasion, take, in this second conference, could she have succeeded, in her solicitude for his change of religion!—Could that have been effected, I dare say she would have been less reserved, as to the cause of her melancholy; especially as her friends were all as indulgent to her as mine are to me.
But my pity for the noble Clementina begins to take great hold of my heart. I long to have the whole before me.
Adieu, Lucy: If I write more, it will be all a recapitulation of the doctor's Letter. I can think of nothing else.
Volume III - lettera 27
Volume III - Letter 28
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Tuesday, Mar. 28.
Let me now give you a brief account of what we are doing here. Sir Charles so much rejoiced the heart of Lord G. who waited on him the moment he knew he was in town, that he could not defer his attendance on Miss Grandison, till she left Colnebrooke; and got hither by our breakfast-time, this morning.
He met with a very kind reception from Lord and Lady L. and a civil one from Miss Grandison; but she is already beginning to play her tricks with him.
O Lucy, where is the sense of parading it with a worthy man, of whose affection we have no reason to doubt, and whose visits we allow?
Silly men in Love, or pretending to be in Love, generally say hyperbolical things, all, in short, that could be said to a creature of superior order (to an angel), because they know not how to say polite, proper, or sensible things. In like manner, from the same defects in understanding, some of us women act as if we thought coyness and modesty the same thing; and others, as if they were sensible, that if they were not insolent, they must drop into the arms of a Lover upon his first question.
But Miss Grandison, in her behaviour to Lord G. is governed by motives of archness, and, I may say, downright roguery of temper. Courtship is play to her. She has a talent for raillery, and in no instance is so successful, yet so improper, as on that subject. She could not spare her brother upon it, tho' she suffered by it.
Yet had she a respect for Lord G. she could not treat him ludicrously. Cannot a witty woman find her own consequence, but by putting a fool's coat on the back of a friend?—Sterling wit, I imagine, requires not a foil to set it off.
She is indeed good-natured; and this is all Lord G. has to depend upon—Saving a little reliance that he may make upon the influence her brother has over her. I told her, just now, that were I Lord G. I would not wish to have her mine, on any consideration. She called me silly creature, and asked me, If it were not one of the truest signs of Love, when men were most fond of the women who were least fit for them, and used them worst? These men, my dear, said she, are very sorry creatures, and know no medium. They will either, spaniel-like, fawn at your feet, or be ready to leap into your lap.
She has charming spirits: I wish I could borrow some of them. But I tell her, that I would not have a single drachm of those over-lively ones which I see she will play off upon Lord G. Yet he will be pleased, at present, with any treatment from her; tho' he wants not feeling, as I can see already—Don't, Charlotte, said I to her, within this half-hour, let him find his own weight in your levity. He admires your wit; but don't let it wound him.
But perhaps she is the sprightlier, in order to give me, and Lord and Lady L. spirits. They are very good to me, and greatly apprehensive of the story, which takes up, in a manner, my whole attention: So is Miss Grandison: And my sweet Emily, as often as she may, comes up to me when I am alone, and hangs upon my arm, my shoulder, and watches, with looks of Love, every turn of my eyes.
I have opened my whole heart to her, for the better guarding of hers; and this history of Clementina affords an excellent lesson for the good girl. She blesses me for the lectures I read her on this subject, and says, that she sees Love is a very subtile thing, and, like water, will work its way into the banks that are set up to confine it, if it be not watched, and damned out in time.
She pities Clementina; and prettily asked my leave to do so. I think, said she, my heart loves her; but not so well as it does you. I long to know what my guardian will do about her. How good is it in her father and mother to love her so dearly! Her two elder brothers one cannot dislike; but Jeronymo is my favourite. He is a man worth saving; i'n't he, madam? But I pity her father and mother, as well as Clementina.
Charming young creature! What an excellent heart she has!
Sir Charles is to dine with Sir Hargrave and his friends to-morrow, on the forest, in his way to Grandison-hall. The doctor says, he expects to hear from him, when there. What! will he go by this house, and not call in?—With all my heart—We are only sisters! Miss Grandison says, she'll be hanged (that is her word) if he is not afraid of me. Afraid of me! A sign, if he is, he knows not what a poor forward creature I am. But as he seems to be pre-engaged—Well, but I shall soon know every thing, as to that. But sure he might call in, as he went by.
The doctor says, he longs to know how he approves of the decorations of his church, and of the alterations that are made and making, by his direction, at the Hall. It is a wonder, methinks, that he takes not Dr. Bartlett with him: Upon my word, I think he is a little unaccountable, such sisters as he has. Should you like it, Lucy, were he your brother? I really think his sisters are too acquiescent.
He has a great taste, the doctor tells us, yet not an expensive one; for he studies situation and convenience; and pretends not to level hills, or to force and distort nature; but to help it, as he finds it, without letting art be seen in his works, where he can possibly avoid it. For he says, He would rather let a stranger be pleased with what he sees, as if it were always so; than to obtain comparative praise by informing him what it was in its former situation.
As he is to be a suitor for Lord W. before he returns, he will not, perhaps, be with us, while I am here. He may court for others: He has had very little trouble of that sort for himself, I find.
A very disturbing thought is just come into my head: Sir Charles being himself in suspense, as to the catastrophe of this knotty affair, did not intend to let us know it till all was over—As sure as you are alive, Lucy, he had seen my regard for him thro' the thin veil that covered it; and began to be apprehensive (generously apprehensive) for the heart of the poor fool; and so has suffered Dr. Bartlett to transcribe the particulars of the story, that they may serve for a check to the over-forward passion of your Harriet.
This thought excites my pride; and that my contempt of myself: Near borderers, Lucy! What a little creature does it make me, in my own eyes!—O Dr. Bartlett, your kindly-intended transcripts shall cure me: Indeed they shall.
But now this subject is got uppermost again. What, Lucy, can I do with it?
Miss Grandison says, that I shall be with her every day when I go to town: I can have no exception, she says, when her brother is absent —Nor when he is present, I begin now to think.
Lord help me, my dear; I must be so very careful of my ponctilio!—No, thought I, in the true spirit of prudery, I will not go to Sir Charles's house for the world: And why? Because he is a single man; and because I think of something—that he perhaps has no notion of. But now I may go and visit his sister without scruple, may I not? For he perhaps thinks only of his Clementina—And is not this a charming difficulty got over, Lucy?—But, as I said, I will soon be with you.
I told Miss Grandison that I would, just now—Lovers, said she, are the weakest people in the world; and people of punctilio the most un -punctilious—You have not talked till now of going in such an hurry. Would you have it thought that you stayed in town for a particular reason? and, when that ceased, valued nobody else? She held up her finger—Consider! said she!
There is something in this, Lucy. Yet what can I do?
But Dr. Bartlett says, he shall soon give me another Letter.
Farewell, my Dear.
Volume III - lettera 28
Volume III - Letter 29
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday, Mar. 29.
Sir Charles came hither this morning, time enough to breakfast with us.
Lady L. is not an early riser. I am sure this brother of hers is: So is Miss Grandison. If I say I am, my Lucy, I will not allow you to call it boasting, because you will, by so calling it, acknowledge Early rising to be a virtue; and if you thought it such, I am sure you would distinguish it by your practice. Forgive me, my dear: This is the only point in which you and I have differed—And why have I in the main so patiently suffered this difference, and not tried to tease you out of it? Because my Lucy always so well employs her time when she is alive. But would not one the more wish that well-employed life to be made as long as possible?
I endeavoured to be very cheerful at breakfast; but I believe my behaviour was awkward, and affected. After Sir Charles was gone, on my putting the question to the two sisters, Whether it was not so? they acquitted me—Yet my heart, when in his company, laboured with a sense of constraint.
My pride made me want to find out pity for me in his looks and behaviour, on purpose to quarrel with him in my mind; for I could not get out of my head that degrading surmise, that he had permitted Dr. Bartlett to hasten to me the history of Clementina, in order generously to check any hopes that I might entertain, before they had too strongly taken hold of my foolish heart.
But nothing of this was discoverable. Respect, tender respect, appeared, as the Ladies afterwards took notice, in every word, when he addressed himself to me; in every look that he cast upon me.
He studiously avoided speaking of the Bologna family. We were not indeed any of us fond of leading to the subject.
I am sure, I pitied him.
Pity, my dear, is a softer passion, I dare say, in the bosom of a woman, than in that of a man. There is, there must be, I should fancy, more generosity, more tenderness, in the pity of the one, than in that of the other. In a man's pity (I write in the first case from my own sensibilities, in the other from my apprehensions) there is, too probably, a mixture of insult or contempt. Unhappy, indeed, must the woman be, who has drawn upon her the helpless pity of the man she loves!
The Ladies and Lord L. will have it, that Sir Charles's Love, however, is not so much engaged for Clementina as his Compassion. They are my sincere friends: They see that I am pretty delicate in my notions of a first Love; and they generously endeavour to inculcate this distinction upon me: But to what purpose, when we evidently see, from what we already know of this story, that his engagements, be the motive what it will, are of such a nature, that they cannot be dispensed with while this Lady's destiny is undetermined?
Poor Lady Clementina! From my heart I pity her: And tenderness, I am sure, is the sole motive of my compassion for this fair Unfortunate.
Sir Charles set out, immediately after breakfast, for Sir Hargrave's. He will dine with him, and intends to pass the evening with Lord W. We shall all go to town to-morrow.
With this I send the doctor's second packet. O my dear! What a noble young Lady is Clementina! What a purity is there in her passion! A Letter of Mrs. Beaumout (Mrs. Beaumont herself an excellent woman) will show you, that Clementina deserves every good wish. Such a noble struggle did I never hear of, between Religion and Love. O Lucy! you will be delighted with Clementina: You will even, for a while, forget your Harriet; or, if you are just, will think of her but next after Clementina! Never did a young Lady do more honour to her sex, than is done it by Clementina! A flame, the most vehement, suppressed from motives of piety, till, poor Lady! it has devoured her intellects!
Read the Letter, and be lost, as I was, for half an hour after I had read it, in silent admiration of her fortitude! O my dear! she must be rewarded with a Sir Charles Grandison! My reason, my justice, compels from me my vote in her favour.
My Lord L. and the two Ladies admire her as much as I do. They look at me with eyes of tender concern. They say little. What can they say?—But they kindly applaud me for unfeigned admiration of this extraordinary young Lady. But where is my merit? Who can forbear admiring her?
Dr. Bartlett's second Letter.
Your forth enquiry, madam, is,
Whether the particularly cheerful behaviour of the young Lady, on the departure of Mr. Grandison from Bologna, after a course of melancholy, is anywhere accounted for?
And your fifth is, What were the particulars of Mrs. Beaumont's management of the Lady, at Florence, by which she brought her to own her Love, after she had so long kept it a secret from her mother, and all her family?
What I shall transcribe, in order to satisfy you, madam, with regard to the fifth article, will include all that you can wish to be informed of, respecting the fourth.
But let me premise, That Mrs. Beaumont, at the request of the Marchioness, undertook to give an account of the health of the young Lady, and what effect the change of air, of place, and her advice, had upon her mind, after she had been at Florence for two or three days. She, on the fourth day of their being together, wrote to that Lady the desired particulars. The following is a translation of her Letter:
Your Ladyship will excuse me for not writing till now, when you are acquainted that it was not before last night that I could give you any tolerable satisfaction on the subject upon which I had engaged to do myself that honour.
I have made myself mistress of the dear young Lady's Secret. Your Ladyship guessed it, perhaps, too well. Love, but a pure and laudable Love, is the malady that has robbed her of her tranquillity for so long a space, and your splendid family of all comfort: But such a magnanimity, shown or endeavoured at, that she deserves to be equally pitied and admired. What is it that the dear young Lady has not suffered in a conflict between her duty, her Religion, and her Love?
The discovery, I am afraid, will not give pleasure to your family; yet certainty, in what must be, is better than suspense. You will think me a managing person, perhaps, from the relation I have to give you: But it was the task prescribed me; and you commanded me to be very minute in the account of all my dealings with her, that you might know how to conduct yourselves to her for the cure of the unhappy malady. I obey.
The first and second days, after our return to Florence, were passed in endeavouring to divert her, as our guest, in all the ways we could think of: But finding, that company was irksome to her, and that she only bore with it for politeness sake; I told the Ladies, that I would take her entirely into my own care, and devote my whole time to her service. They acquiesced. And when I told Lady Clementina of my intention, she rejoiced at it, and did me the honour to assure me, that my conversation would be balm to her heart, if she could enjoy it without mixed company.
Your Ladyship will see, however, from what I have mentioned of her regard for me, that I had made use of my time in the two pasts days to ingratiate myself into the favour of your Clementina. She will have me call her nothing but Clementina: Excuse therefore, madam, the freedom of my stile.
She engaged me last night to give her a lesson, as she called it, in an English author. I was surprised at her proficiency in my native tongue. Ah my dear! said I, what an admirable manner of teaching must your tutor have had, if I am to judge by the great progress you have made in so short a time, in the acquiring of a tongue that has not the sweetness of your own, tho' it has a force and expressiveness that is more than equal, I think, to any of the modern languages!
She blushed—Do you think so? said she—And I saw, by the turn of her eye, and her consciousness, that I had no need to hint to her Count Marulli, nor any other man.
I took upon me, without pushing her, just then, upon the supposed light dropped in from this little incident, to mention the Count of Belvedere with distinction, as the Marquis had desired I would.
She said, She could not by any means think of him.
I told her, that as all her family approved highly of the Count, I thought they were entitled to know her objections; and to judge of the reasonableness or unreasonableness of them. Indeed, my dear, said I, you do not, in this point, treat your father and mother with the dutifulness that their indulgence deserves.
She started. That is severely said, is it not, madam?
Consider of it, my dear, and if you pronounce it so, after an hour's reflection, I will call it so, and ask your pardon.
I am afraid, said she, I am in fault. I have the best and most indulgent of parents. There are some things, some secrets, that one cannot be forward to divulge. One should perhaps be commanded out of them with a high hand.
Your acknowledgement, my dear, said I, is more generous than the occasion given for it: But if you will not think me impertinent—
Don't, don't, ask me too close questions, madam, interrupted she; I am afraid I can deny nothing.
I am persuaded, my dear Clementina, that the mutual unbosoming of secrets is the cement of faithful Friendship, and true Love. Whenever any new turn in one's affairs happens, whenever any new lights open, the friendly heart rests not, till it has communicated to its fellow-heart the new lights, the interesting events; and this communicativeness knits the true Lover's knot still closer. But what a solitariness, what a gloom, what a darkness, must possess that mind that can trust no friend with its inmost thoughts! The big secret, when it is of an interesting nature, will swell the heart till it is ready to burst, Deep melancholy must follow—I would not for the world have it so much as thought, that I had not a soul large enough for friendship. And is not the essence of friendship communication, mingling of hearts, and emptying our very soul into that of a true friend?
Why that's true. But, madam, a young creature may be so circumstanced, as not to have a true friend; or, if she has near her a person to whom she might communicate her whole mind without doubt of her fidelity; yet there may be a forbiddingness in the person; a difference in years, in degree; as in my Camilla, who is, however, a very good woman—We people of condition, madam, have more courtiers about us than friends: But Camilla's fault is teasing, and always harping upon one string, and that by my friends commands: It would be therefore more laudable to open my mind to my mother, than to her; as it would be the same thing.
Very true, my dear: And as you have a mother, who is less of the mother than she would be of the sister, the friend; it is amazing to me, that you have kept such a mother in the dark so long.
What can I say?—Ah, madam!—There she stopped. At last said, But my mother is in the interest of the man I cannot love.
The question recurs—Are not your parents entitled to know your objections to the man whose interest they so warmly espouse?
I have no particular objections. The Count of Belvedere deserves a better wife than I can make him. I should respect him very much, had I a sister, and he made his addresses to her.
Well then, my dear Clementina, if I guess the reason why you cannot approve of the Count of Belvedere, will you tell me, with that candour, with that friendship, of the requisites of which we have been speaking, whether I am right or not?
She hesitated. I was silent in expectation.
She then spoke, I am afraid of you, madam.
You have reason to be so, if you think me unworthy of your friendship.
What is your guess?
That you are prejudiced in favour of some other man; or you could not, if you had a sister, wish her an husband that you thought unworthy of yourself.
I don't think the Count of Belvedere unworthy neither, madam.
Then my conjecture has received additional strength.
O Mrs. Beaumont! How you press upon me!
If impertinently, say so; and I have done.
No, no, not impertinently, neither; yet you distress me.
That could not be, if I were not right; and if the person were not too unworthy of you, to be acknowledged.
O Mrs. Beaumont! how closely you urge me! What can I say?
If you have any confidence in me—If you think me capable of advising you—
I have confidence: Your known prudence—And then she made me compliments, that I could not deserve.
Come, my dear Clementina, I will guess again—Shall I?
What would you guess?
That there is a man of low degree—Of low fortunes—Of inferior sense—
Hold, hold, hold—And do you think that the Clementina before you is sunk so low?—If you do, Why don't you cast the abject creature from you?
Well, then, I will guess again—That there is a man of a royal house; of superior understanding; of whom you can have no hope.
O Mrs. Beaumont! And cannot you guess that this prince is a Mahometan, when your hand is in?
Then, madam, and from the hints your Ladyship had given, I had little doubt that Clementina was in Love; and that religion was the apprehended difficulty. Zealous Catholics think not better of Protestants, than of Mahometans: Nor, indeed, are zealous Protestants without their prejudices. Zeal will be zeal, in persons of whatever denomination.
I would not however, madam, like a sudden frost, nip the opening bud.
There is, said I, a young soldier of fortune, who has breathed forth passionate wishes for Clementina.
A soldier of fortune, madam! with an air of disdain. There cannot be such a man living, that can have his wishes answered.
Well, then, to say nothing of him; there is a Roman nobleman—a younger brother—of the Borghese house—Permit me to suppose him the man.
With all my heart, madam.
She was easy, while I was at a distance.
But if the Chevalier Grandison [She coloured at his name] has done him ill offices—
The Chevalier Grandison, madam, is incapable of doing any man ill offices.
Are you sure, madam, that the Chevalier has not art?—He has great abilities. Men of great abilities are not always to be trusted. They don't strike till they are sure.
He has no art, madam. He is above art. He wants it not. He is beloved wherever he goes. He is equally noted for his prudence and freedom of heart. He is above art, repeated she, with warmth.
I own, that he deserves every-thing from your family. I don't wonder that he is caressed by you all: But it is amazing to me, that, in contradiction to all the prudent maxims and cautions of your country, such a young gentleman should have been admitted—I stopped.
Why, now, you don't imagine, that I—that I—She stopped, and hesitated.
A prudent woman would not put it in any man's power to give her a prejudice to persons of unexceptionable honour; and to manage—
Nay, madam, now has somebody prejudiced you against your countryman—He is the most disinterested of men.
I have heard young Ladies, when he was here, speak of him as an handsome man.
An handsome man! And is not Mr. Grandison an handsome man? Where will you see a man so handsome?
And do you think he is so very extraordinary a man, as to sense, as I have heard him reported to be? I was twice in his company—I thought, indeed, he looked upon himself as a man of consequence.
Nay, madam, don't say he is not a modest man. It is true, he knows when to speak, and when to be silent: But he is not a confident man; nor is he, in the least, conceited.
Was there so much bravery in his relieving your brother, as some people attribute to him in that happy event? Two servants and himself, well armed; the chance of passengers on the same road: The assassins that appeared but two; their own guilt to encounter with—
Dear, dear Mrs. Beaumont, with what prejudiced people have you conversed? The Scripture says, A prophet has no honour in his own country; but Mr. Grandison has not much from his own countrywoman.
Well, but did Mr. Grandison ever speak to you of any one man as a man worthy of your favour?
Did he!—Yes, of the Count of Belvedere. He was more earnest in his favour—
Yes, really—than I thought he ought to be.
Why so!—Why, because—because—Why what was it to him—you know?
I suppose he was put upon it—
I believe so.
Or he would not—
I believe, if the truth were known, you, Mrs. Beaumont, hate Mr. Grandison. You are the only person that I ever in my life heard speak of him, even with indifference.
Tell me, my dear Clementina, What are you sincere thoughts of Mr. Grandison, person and mind?
You may gather them from what I have said.
That he is an handsome man; a generous, a prudent, a brave, a polite man.
Indeed I think him to be all you have said: And I am not singular.
But he is a Mahometan —
A Mahometan! madam—Ah, Mrs. Beaumont!
And ah, my dear Clementina!—And do you think I have not found you out?—Had you never known Mr. Grandison, you would not have scrupled to have been Countess of Belvedere.
And can you think, madam—
Yes, yes, my dear young Lady, I can.
My good Mrs. Beaumont, you don't know what I was going to say.
Be sincere, my dear young Lady. Cannot a Lover, talking to a second person, be sincere?
What! madam, a man of another religion! A man obstinate in his errors! a man who has never professed Love to me! a man of inferior degree! A man who owns himself absolutely dependent upon his father's bounty! His father living to the height of his estate!—Forbid it pride, dignity of birth, duty, religion—
Well then, I may safely take up the praises of Mr. Grandison: You have imputed to me, slight, injustice, prejudice against him: Let me now show you, that the Prophet HAS honour with his countrywoman. Let me collect his character from the mouth of every man who has spoken of him in my hearing or knowledge—His country has not in this age sent abroad a private man who has done it more credit. He is a man of honour in every sense of the word: If moral rectitude, if practical religion (your brother the Barone testifies this on his own experience) were lost in the rest of the world, it would, without glare or ostentation, be found in him. He is courted by the best, the wisest, the most eminent men, wherever he goes; and he does good without distinction of religion, sects, or nation: His own countrymen boast of him, and apply to him for credentials to the best and most considerable men, in their travels thro' more countries than one: In France, particularly, he is as much respected as in Italy. He is descended from the best families in England, both by father and mother; and can be a Senator of it, whenever he pleases. He is heir to a very considerable estate, and is, as I am informed, courted to ally with some of the greatest families in it. Were he not born to a fortune, he would make one. You own him to be generous, brave, handsome—
O my dear, dear Mrs. Beaumont! All this is too much, too much!—Yet all this I think him to be! I can no longer resist you. I own, I own, that I have no heart but for Mr. Grandison. And now, as I don't doubt but my friends set you to find out the love-sick girl, how shall I, who cannot disown a secret you have so fairly, and without condition, come at, ever look them in the face? Yet let them know, (I will enable you to tell them) how all this came about, and how much I have struggled against a passion so evidently improper to be encouraged by a daughter of their house.
He was, in the first place, as well you know, the preserver of a beloved brother's life; and that brother afterwards owned, that had he followed his friendly advice, he never would have fallen into the danger from which he rescued him.
My father and mother presented him to me, and bid me regard him as a fourth brother; and it was not immediately that I found out that I could have but three brothers.
My brother's deliverer proved to be the most amiable and humane, and yet bravest of men.
All my friends caressed him. Neither family forms, nor national forms, were stood upon. He had free access to us all, as one of us.
My younger brother was continually hinting to me his wishes that I were his. Mr. Grandison was above all other reward; and my brother considered me in a kind light, as able to reward him.
My confessor, by his fears and invectives, rather confirmed than lessened my esteem for a man whom I thought injured by them.
His own respectful and disinterested behaviour to me contributed to my attachment. He always addressed me as his sister, when he put on the familiar friend, in the guise of a tutor: I could not therefore arm against a man I had no reason to suspect.
But still I knew not the strength of my passion for him, till the Count of Belvedere was proposed to me with an earnestness that alarmed me: Then I considered the Count as the interrupter of my hopes; and yet I could not give the reason why I rejected him. How could I, when I had none to give but my prepossession in favour of another man? A prepossession entirely hidden in my own heart.
But still I thought I would sooner die, than be the wife of a man of a religion contrary to my own. I am a zealous Catholic myself: All my relations are zealous Catholics. How angry have I been at this obstinate Heretic, as I have often called him; the first heretic, my dear Mrs. Beaumont (for once I did not love you) that my soul detested not! For he is as tenacious a Protestant as ever came out of England. What had he to do in Italy? Why did he not stay at home? Or why, if he must come abroad, did he stay so long among us; yet hold his obstinacy, as if in defiance of the people he was so well received by?
These were the reproaches that my heart in silence often cast upon him.
I was at first concerned only for his soul's sake: but afterwards, finding him essential to my earthly happiness, and yet resolving never to think of him if he became not a Catholic, I was earnest for his conversion for my own sake; hoping that my friends indulgence to me would make my wishes practicable; for on his part, I doubted not, if that point were got over, he would think an alliance with our family an honour to him.
But when I found him invincible on this article, I was resolved either to conquer my passion, or die. What did I not undergo in my endeavours to gain this victory over myself! My confessor hurt me, by terrors; my woman teased me; my parents, and two elder brothers, and all my more distant relations, urged me to determine in favour of the Count of Belvedere. The Count was importunate: The Chevalier was importunate in the Count's behalf—Good heaven! What could I do?—I was hurried, as I may say: I had not time given me to weigh, ponder, recollect. How could I make my mother, how could I make any-body my confident? My judgment was at war with my passion; and I hoped it would overcome. I struggled; yet every day the object appearing more worthy, the struggle was too hard for me. O that I had had a Mrs. Beaumont to consult—Well might melancholy seize me—Silent melancholy!
At last the Chevalier was resolved to leave us. What pain, yet what pleasure, did this his resolution give me! Most sincerely I hoped, that his absence would restore my tranquillity.
What a secret triumph did I gave myself, on my behaviour to him, before all my friends, on the parting evening!—My whole deportment was uniform. I was cheerful, serene, happy in myself, and I made all my friends so. I wished him happy wherever he set his foot, and whatsoever he engaged in. I thanked him, with the rest of my friends, for the benefits we had received from him, and the pleasure he had given us, in the time he had bestowed upon us; and I wished that he might never want a friend so agree-and entertaining as he had been to us all.
I was the more pleased with myself, as I was not under a necessity of putting on stiffness or reserve to hide a heart too much affected. I thought myself secure, and stood out forwarder than he seemed to hope for, and with more than my offered hand, at the moment of his departure. I thought I read in his eyes a concern, for the first time, that called for a pity which I imagined I myself wanted not. Yet I had a pang at parting—When the door shut out the agreeable man, never again, thought I, to be opened to give him entrance! I sighed at the reflexion: But who perceived it?—I never could be insensible in a parting scene, with less agreeable friends: It was the easier for me to attribute to the gentleness of my heart, the instant sensibility. My father clasped me to his bosom: My mother embraced me, without mortifying me by saying for what. My brother, the bishop, called me twenty fond names; all my friends complimented me, but only on my cheerfulness, and said, I was once more their own Clementina. I went to rest, pleased that I had so happily acquitted myself, and that possibly I contributed to the repose of dear friends, whose repose I had been the cause of disturbing.
But, alas! this conduct was too great for the poor Clementina to maintain: My soul was too high set.—You know the rest; and I am lost to the joys of this life: For I never, never, will be the wife of a man, if I might, who by his religion is an enemy to the faith I never wavered in; nor would ever change, were an earthly crown on the head of the man I love to be the reward; and a painful death, in the prime of my life, the contrary.
A flood of tears prevented farther speech. She hid her face in my bosom. She sighed—Dear Lady! How she sighed!
This, madam, is the account I have to give of what has passed between your beloved Clementina and me. Never was there a more noble struggle between duty and affection; tho' her heart was too tender, and, in short, the man's merits too dazzling, to allow it to be effectual. She is unwilling that I should send you the particulars: She shall be ashamed, she says, to look her father, her mother, in the face; and she dreads still more, if possible, her confessor's being made acquainted with the state of her heart, and the cause of her disorder. But I tell her, it is absolutely necessary for her mother to know everything that I know, in order to attempt a cure.
This cure, madam, I am afraid will never be effected, but by giving her in marriage to the happy man. I must think him so, who will be entitled, by general consent, to so great a blessing.
You, madam, will act in this affair as you judge proper: But if you can at Bologna, at Urbino, and Naples, get over your family objections, you will perhaps find yourselves obliged, such are the young Lady's own scruples, on the score of religion, to take pains to persuade her to pursue her inclination, and accept Mr. Grandison for an husband.
Be this as it may, I would humbly recommend a gentle and soothing treatment of her. She never knew yet what the contrary was; and were she to experience that contrary now upon an occasion so very delicate, and in which her Judgment and her Love are, as she hints, at variance; I verily think, she would not be able to bear it—That God direct you for the best, whom you and yours have always served with signal devotion!
I will only add, That since the secret which had so long preyed upon her fine spirits, is revealed, she appears to be much more easy than before; but yet she dreads the reception she shall meet with on her return to Bologna. She begs of me, when that return shall be ordered, to accompany her, in order to enable her, as she says, to support her spirits. She is very desirous to enter into a nunnery. She says, She never can be the wife of any other man; and she thinks she ought not to be his, on whom her heart is fixed.
A word of comfort on paper, from your honoured hand, I know, madam, would do a great deal towards healing her wounded heart.
I am, madam, with the greatest veneration and respect,
Your Ladyship's Most faithful humble servant,
Let me add, my good Miss Byron, that the Marchioness sent an answer to this Letter expressing the highest obligation and gratitude to Mrs. Beaumont; and inclosed a Letter to her daughter, filled with tender and truly-motherly consolation; inviting her back to Bologna out of hand, and her amiable friend with her: Promising, in the name of her father and brothers, a most indulgent welcome; and assuring her, that every-thing should be done that could be done, to make her happy in her own way.
Volume III - lettera 29
Volume III - Letter 30
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Wedn. Night, Mar. 29.
I inclose, my Lucy, the doctor's third packet. From its contents you will pity Sir Charles, as well as Clementina; and if you enter impartially into the situation of the family, and allow as much to their zeal for a religion they are satisfied with, as you will do for Sir Charles's steadiness in his; you will also pity them. They are all good; they are all considerate. A great deal is to be said for them; tho' much more for Sir Charles, who insisted not upon that change of religion in the Lady, which they demanded from him.
How great does he appear in my eyes! A confessor, tho' not a martyr, one may call him, for his religion and country—How deep was his distress! A mind so delicate as his, and wishing for the sake of the Sex, and the Lady and Family, as he did, rather to be repulsed by them, than to be obliged himself to decline their intended favour.
You will admire the Lady in her sweetly-modest behaviour, on his first visit before her mother; but more, for the noble spirit she endeavoured to resume in her conversation with him in the garden.
But how great will he appear in your eyes, in the eyes of my grandmother, and aunt Selby, for that noble apostrophe!—'But, O my Religion and my Country! I cannot, cannot, renounce you! What can this short life promise, what can it give, to warrant such a sacrifice!'
Yet her conduct, you will find, is not inferior to his; firmly persuaded, as she is, of the truth of her religion; and loving him with an ardor that he had from the first restrained in himself from hopelessness?
But to admire her as she deserves, I should transcribe all she says, and his account of her whole behaviour.
O my dear! Who could have acted as Clementina acted!—Not, I fear,
Your HARRIET BYRON.
Dr. Bartlett's third Letter.
Your sixth command, madam, is, to give you the particulars of Mr. Grandison's reception from the Marchioness and her Clementina, on his return to Bologna from Vienna, at the invitation of Signor Jeronymo.
Mr. Grandison was received at his arrival with great tokens of esteem and friendship, by the Marquis himself, and by the Bishop.
Signor Jeronymo, who still kept his chamber, the introducer being withdrawn, embraced him: And now, said he, is the affair, that I have had so long in view, determined upon. O Chevalier! you will be a happy man. Clementina will be yours: You will be Clementina's: And now indeed do I embrace my brother—But I detain you not: Go to the happy girl: She is with her mother, and both are ready to receive and welcome you. Allow for the gentle spirit: She will not be able to say half she thinks.
Camilla then appeared, to conduct me, says Mr. Grandison, to her Ladies, in the Marchioness's drawing-room. She whispered me in the passage: Welcome, thrice welcome, best of men! Now will you be rewarded for all your goodness!
I found the Marchioness sitting at her toilette, richly dressed, as in ceremony; but without attendants; even Camilla retired, as soon as she had opened the door for me.
The lovely Clementina stood at the back of her mother's chair. She was elegantly dressed: But her natural modesty, heightened by a glowing consciousness, that seemed to arise from the occasion, gave her advantages that her richest jewels could not have given her.
The Marchioness stood up. I kissed her hand—You are welcome, Chevalier, said she. The only man on earth that I could thus welcome, or is fit to be so welcomed!—Clementina, my dear!—turning round, and taking her hand.
The young Lady had shrunk back, her complexion varying; now glowing, now pale—Excuse her voice, said the condescending mother; her heart bids you welcome.
Judge for me, my dear Dr. Bartlett, how I must be affected at this gracious reception: I, who knew not the terms that were to be prescribed to me. 'Spare me, dear Lady, thought I, spare me my Conscience, and take all the world's wealth and glory to yourselves: I shall be rich enough with Clementina.'
The Marchioness seated her in her own chair. I approached her: But how could I with that grateful ardor, that, but for my doubts, would have sprung to my lips? Modest Love, however, was attributed to me; and I had the praise wholly for that which was but partly due to it.
I drew a chair for the Marchioness, and, at her command, another for myself. The mother took one hand of her bashful daughter: I presumed to take the other: The amiable Lady held down her blushing face, and reproved me not, as she did once before, on the like freedom, for being too free. Her mother asked me questions of an indifferent nature; as of my journey; of the courts I had visited since I left them; when I heard from England; after my father; my sisters: The latter questions in a kind way, as if she were asking after relations that were to be her own.
What a mixture of pain had I with the favour shown me, and for the favour shown me! For I questioned not but a change of religion would be proposed, and insisted on; and I had no doubt in my mind about my own.
After a short conversation the amiable daughter arose, curtsied low to her mother, with dignity to me; and withdrew.
Ah, Chevalier! said the Marchioness, as soon as she was gone, little did I think, when you left us, that we should so soon see you again; and on the account we see you: But you know how to receive your good fortune with gratitude. Your modesty keeps in countenance our forwardness.
I bowed—What could I say?
I shall leave, so will my Lord, particular subjects to be talked of, between the Bishop and you. You will, if it be not your own fault, have a treasure in Clementina; and a treasure with her. We shall do the same things for her, as if she had married the man we wished her to have when we thought her affections disengaged. You may believe we love our daughter—Else—
I applauded their indulgent goodness.
I can have no doubt, Mr. Grandison, that you love Clementina above all women.
[I had never seen the woman, Dr. Bartlett, that I could have loved so well, had I not restrained myself, at first, from the high notion I knew they had of their quality and rank; from considerations of the difference in religion; of the trust and confidence the family placed in me; and by the resolution I had made, as a guard to myself from the time of my entering upon my travels, of never aiming to marry a foreigner.]
I assured the Marchioness, that I was absolutely disengaged in my affections: That not having presumed to encourage hopes of the good fortune that seemed to await me, I could hardly yet flatter myself that so great an happiness was reserved for me.
She answered, That I deserved it all: That I knew the value they had for me: That Clementina's regard was founded in virtue: That my character was my happiness: That, however, what the world would say, had been no small point with them; but that was as good as got over; and she doubted not but all that depended upon me, would, as well from generosity as gratitude, be complied with.
[Here, thought I, is couched the expectation: And if so, would to heaven I had never seen Italy!]
The Marquis joined his Lady and me soon after. His features had a melancholy cast. This dear girl, said he, has fastened upon me part of her malady. Parents, Chevalier, who are blessed with even hopeful children, are not always happy. This girl—But no more: She is a good child. In the general economy of Providence, none of the sons of men are unhappy, but some others are the happier for it. Our son the Bishop will talk to you upon terms.
I have hinted to the Chevalier, my Lord, said the Marchioness, the happiness that waits him.
How does the poor girl?—Bashful enough, I suppose!
Indeed, my Lord, she cannot look up, answered the Lady.
Poor thing! I supposed it would be so.
Why, why, thought I, was I suffered to see this mother, this daughter, before their conditions were proposed to me!
But what indulgent parents are these, Dr. Bartlett? What an excellent daughter? Yet not to be happy! But how much more unhappily circumstanced did I think myself!—I, who had rather have been rejected with disdain by twenty women in turn, than to be obliged to decline the honour intended me by a family I reverenced!
Thus far Mr. Grandison. This, madam, will answer your question, as to the VIth article; but I believe a few more particulars will be acceptable.
The Marquis led me, proceeds Mr. Grandison, into the chamber of Signor Jeronymo. Your good fortune, Chevalier, said he, as we entered it, is owing to Jeronymo, who owes his life to you. I bless God, we are a family that know not what ingratitude means.
I made my acknowledgements both to father and son.
The Marquis then went into public affairs; and soon after left us together.
I was considering, whether I had best tell that sincere friend my apprehensions in relation to the articles of religion and residence; for he had with an air of humour congratulated me on the philosophical manner in which I bore my good fortune; when Camilla entered, and whispered me, of her own head, as she said, That her young Lady was just gone into the garden.
I dare say, it was of her own head: For Camilla has a great deal of good-nature, and is constantly desirous of obliging, where she thinks she shall not offend any-body.
Follow her then, said Jeronymo, who heard what Camilla said: Clementina perhaps expects you.
Camilla waited for me at the entrance into the garden. One word, Sir, if you please. I am afraid of the return of my young Lady's thoughtfulness. She says, she is ashamed of the poor figure she made before her mother: She is sure she must look mean in your eyes. A man to be sent for, Camilla, said she, in compliment to my weakness! Why did not my too indulgent father bid me conquer my folly, or die? O that I had not owned my attachment!
'Naughty Mrs. Beaumont! said she, Had it not been for you, my own bosom had contained the secret; till shame, and indignation against myself, had burst my heart!'
She is resolved, she says, to resume a spirit becoming her birth and quality; and I am afraid of her elevations. Her great apprehensions are, that, with all this condescension of her parents, obstacles will arise on your part. If so, she says she shall not be able to beat her own reflexions, nor look her friends in the face.
My dear Dr. Bartlett, how have I, who have hitherto so happily escaped the snares by which the feet of unreflecting youth are often entangled by women of light same, been embarrassed by perverse accidents that have arisen from my friendships with the worthy of the Sex! Was there ever a more excellent family than this?—Every individual of it is excellent. And is not then worthiness, and even their piety, the cause to which our mutual difficulties are owing?
But, O my Religion and my Country! I cannot, cannot renounce you! What can this short life give, what can it promise, to warrant such a sacrifice!
I said nothing to Camilla, you may believe, of what I could or could not do; yet she saw my distress: She took notice of it Being firmly persuaded of the excellency of her own religion, she wondered that a man of reflexion and reading could be of a contrary one. Her heart, she said, as well as the heart of her young Lady, boded an unhappy issue to our Loves: Heaven avert it! said the honest woman: But what may we not fear by way of judgment, where a young Lady—Forgive me, Sir—prefers a man she thinks she ought not to prefer; and where a gentleman will not be convinced of errors which the Church condemns?
She again begged I would forgive her. I praised her good intention, and sincere dealing; and leaving her, went into the garden.
I found the young Lady in the Orange-grove. You have been in that garden, Dr. Bartlett.
She turned her face towards me, as I drew near her, and seeing who it was, stopped.
Clementina, armed with conscious worthiness, as if she had resumed the same spirit which had animated her on the eve of my departure from Bologna, condescended to advance two or three paces towards me.
Lovely woman, thought I, encourage the true dignity that shines in that noble aspect!—Who knows what may be our destiny?
I bowed. Veneration, esteem, and concern, from the thought of what that might be, all joined to make my obeisance profound.
I was going to speak. She prevented me. Her air and manner were great.
You are welcome, Sir, said she. My mamma bid me say welcome. I could not then speak: And she was so good to you, as to answer for my heart. My voice is now found: But tell me—Do I see the same generous, the same noble Grandison, that I have heretofore seen?—Or, do I see a man inclined to slight the creature whom her indulgent parents are determined to oblige, even to the sacrifice of all their views?
You see, madam, the same Grandison, his heart only oppressed with the honour done him; and with the fear that the happiness designed for him may yet be frustrated. If it should, how shall I be able to support myself?
[What a difficult situation, my dear Dr. Bartlett, was mine!—Equally afraid to urge my suit with ardor, or to be imagined capable of being indifferent to her favour!]
What do you fear, Sir?—You have grounds in your own heart, perhaps, for your fear. If you have, let me know them. I am not afraid to know them. Let me tell you, that I opposed the step taken. I declared, that I would sooner die, than it should be taken. It was to YOU, they said; and you would know how to receive as you ought the distinction paid you. I have a soul, Sir, not unworthy of the spirit of my ancestors: Tell me what you fear?—I only fear one thing; and that is, that I should be thought to be more in your power than in my own.
Noble Lady! And think you, that while my happiness is not yet absolutely resolved upon, I have not reason to fear?—You will always, madam, be in your own power: You will be most so when in mine. My gratitude will ever prompt me to acknowledge your goodness to me as a condescension.
But say; tell me, Sir; Did you not, at first receiving the invitation, despise, in absence, the Clementina, that now perhaps, in presence, you have the goodness to pity?
O that the high-soul'd Clementina would not think so contemptibly of the man before her, as she must think, when she puts a question that would entitle him to infamy, could he presume to think an answer to it necessary!
Well, Sir; I shall see how far the advances made an the wrong side will be justified, or rather countenanced, by the advances, or, shall I say (I will if you please) condescensions to be made on yours.
[What a petulance, thought I! But can the generous, the noble Clementina, knowing that terms will be proposed, with which in honour and conscience I cannot comply, put my regard for her on such a test as this?—I will not suppose that she is capable of mingling art with her magnanimity.]
Is this, madam, said I, a generous anticipation? Forgive me: But when your friends are so good as to think me incapable of returning ingratitude for obligation, I hope I shall not be classed, by their beloved daughter, among the lowest of mankind.
Excuse me, Sir; the woman who has been once wrong, has reason to be always afraid of herself. If you do not think meanly of me, I will endeavour to think well of myself; and then, Sir, I shall think better of you, if better I can think: For, after all, did I not more mistrust myself than I do you, I should not perhaps be so capricious as, I am afraid, I sometimes am.
The Marquis has hinted to me, madam, That your brother the Bishop is to discourse with me on the subject now the nearest to my heart of all others: May I presume to address myself to their beloved daughter upon it, without being thought capable of endeavouring to prepossess her in my favour before my Lord and I meet?
I will answer you frankly, Sir: There are preliminaries to be settled; and, till they are, I that know there are, do not think myself at liberty to hear you upon any subject that may tend to prepossession.
I acquiesce, madam: I would not for the world be thought to wish for the honour of your attention, while it is improper for you to favour me with it.
[I did not know, Dr. Bartlett, but upon a supposition of a mutual interest between us, as I had hoped she would allow, Clementina might wish that I would lead to some particular discourse. Tho' modesty becomes ours as well as the other sex, yet it would be an indelicacy not to prevent a Lady, in some certain cases. But thus discouraged,] Perhaps, madam, said I, the attendance I do myself the honour to pay you here, may not be agreeable to the Marquis.
Then, Sir, you will choose, perhaps, to withdraw. But don't—Yes, do.
I respectfully withdrew; but she taking a winding alley, which led into that in which I slowly walked, we met again. I am afraid, said she, I have been a little petulant: Indeed, Sir, I am not satisfied with myself. I wish —And there she stopped.
What, madam, do you wish? Favour me with your wishes. If it be in my power—
It is not, interrupted she. I wish I had not been at Florence. The Lady I was with, is a good woman; but she was too hard for me. Perhaps (and she sighed) had I not been with her, I had been at rest, and happy, before now; but if I had not, there is a pleasure, as well as pain, in melancholy. But now I am so fretful!—If I hated the bitterest enemy I have, as much as at times I hate myself, I should be a very bad creature.
This was spoken with an air so melancholy, as greatly disturbed me. God grant, thought I, that the articles of Religion and residence may be agreed upon between the Bishop and me!
Here, my good Miss Byron, I close this Letter. Sir Charles has told you, briefly, the event of the conference between the Bishop and him; and I hasten to obey you in your next article.
Volume III - lettera 30
Volume III - Letter 31
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY.
Thursday Morn. Mar. 30.
I send you now inclosed the doctor's fourth Letter. I believe I must desire my grandmamma and my aunt Selby to send for me down.
We shall all be in London this evening.
Would to heaven I had never come to it!—What of pleasure have I had in it?—This abominable Sir Hargrave Pollexfen!—But for him, I had been easy and happy; since but for him, I had never wanted the relief of Sir Charles Grandison; never had known him. Fame might perhaps have brought to my ears, in general conversation, as other persons of distinction are talked of, some of his benevolent actions; and he would have attracted my admiration without costing me one sigh. And yet, had it been so, I should then have known none of those lively sensibilities that have mingled pleasure with my pain, on the pride I have had in being distinguished as a sister to the sisters of so extraordinary a man. O that I had kept my foolish heart free! I should then have had enough to boast of for my whole life, enough to talk of to every one. And when I had been asked by my companions and intimates, What diversions, what entertainments, I had been at? I should have said, 'I have been in company and conversed with SIR CHARLES GRANDISON; and been favoured and distinguished by all his family.' And I should have passed many a happy winter evening, when my companions came to work and read with me at Selby-house, in answering their questions about all these; and Sir Charles would have been known among us principally by the name of The fine Gentleman; and my young friends would have come about me, and asked me to tell them something more of The Excellent man.
But now my ambition has overthrown me: Aiming, wishing to be every-thing, I am nothing. If I am asked about him, or his sisters, I shall seek to evade the subject; and yet, what other subject can I talk of? For what have I seen; what have I known, since I left Northamptonshire, but Him and Them; and what must lead to Him and Them? And what indeed but Him and Them, since I have known this family, have I wished to see, and to know?
On reviewing the above, how have I, as I see, suffered my childish fancies to delude me into a short forgetfulness of his, of every-body's distresses!—But, O my Lucy, my heart is torn in pieces; and, I verily think, more for the unhappy Clementina's sake, than for my own! How severely do I pay for my curiosity! Yet it was necessary that I should know the worst. So Sir Charles seems to have thought, by the permission he has given to Dr. Bartlett, to oblige me, and through me, his sisters, and all you my own friends.
Your pity will be more raised on reading the Letter I inclose, not only for Clementina and Sir Charles, but for the whole family; none of whom, tho' all unhappy, are to be blamed. You will dearly love the noble Jeronymo, and be pleased with the young Lady's faithful Camilla: But, my dear, there is so much tenderness in Sir Charles's woe—It must be Love—But he ought to love Clementina: She is a glorious, tho' unhappy, young creature. I must not have one spark of generosity left in my heart, I must be lost wholly in Self, if I did not equally admire and love her.
Dr. Bartlett's fourth Letter.
As I remember, madam, Sir Charles mentions to you, in a very pathetic manner, the distress he was in when the terms and conditions, on which he was to be allowed to call the noble Clementina his, were proposed to him; as they were by the Bishop. He has briefly told you the terms, and his grief to be obliged to disappoint the expectation of persons so deservedly dear to him. But you will not, I believe, be displeased, if I dwell a little more on these particulars, tho' they are not commanded from me.
The Bishop, when he had acquainted Mr. Grandison with the terms, said, You are silent, my dear Grandison: You hesitate. What, Sir! Is a proposal of a daughter of one of the noblest families in Italy; that daughter a Clementina; to be slighted by a man of a private family; a foreigner; of dependent fortunes; her dowry not unworthy of a Prince's acceptance? Do you hesitate upon such a proposal as this, Sir?
My Lord, I am grieved, rather than surprised, at the proposal: I was apprehensive it would be made. My joy at receiving the condescending invitation, and at the honours done me, on my arrival, otherwise would have been immoderate.
A debate then followed, upon some articles in which the Church of Rome and the Protestant Churches differ. Mr. Grandison would fain have avoided it; but the Bishop, supposing he should have some advantages in the argument, which he met not with, would not permit him. He was very warm with Mr. Grandison more than once, which did not help his cause.
The particulars of this debate I will not at this time give you: They would carry me into great length; and I have much to transcribe, that I believe, from what Sir Charles has let me see of your manner of writing to your friends, you would prefer. To that I will proceed; after a passage or two, which will show you how that debate, about the difference in Religion, went off.
You will call to mind, Chevalier, said the Bishop, that your church allows of a possibility of salvation out of its pale—Ours does not.
My Lord, our church allows not of its members indulging themselves in capital errors, against conviction: But I hope that no more need to be said on this subject.
I think, replied the Bishop, we will quit it. I did not expect that you were so firmly rooted in error, as I find you: But to the point on which we began: I should think it an extraordinary misfortune, were we to find ourselves reduced to the necessity of reasoning a private man into the acceptance of our sister Clementina. Let me tell you, Sir, that were she to know that you but hesitate —He spoke with earnestness, and reddened.
Pardon an interruption, my Lord: You are disposed to be warm. I will not so much as offer to defend myself from any imputations that may, in displeasure, be cast upon me, as if I were capable of slighting the honour intended me of a Lady who is worthy of a Prince. I am persuaded that your Lordship cannot think such a defence necessary. I am indeed a private man, but not inconsiderable; if the being able to enumerate a long race of ancestors, whom hitherto I have not disgraced, will give me consideration. But what, my Lord, is ancestry? I live to my own heart. My principles were known before I had the condescending invitation. Your Lordship would not persuade me to change them, when I cannot think them wrong; and since, as you have heard, I have something to offer, when called upon, in support of them.
You will consider this matter, my dear Chevalier. It is you, I think, that are disposed to be warm; but you are a valuable man. We, as well as our sister, wish to have you among us: Our church would wish it. Such a proselyte will justify us to every other consideration, and to all our friends. Consider of it, Grandison; but let it not be known to the principals of our family, that you think consideration necessary: The dear Clementina, particularly, must not know it. Your person, Chevalier, is not so dear to the excellent creature, as your soul. Hence it is, that we are all willing to encourage in her a flame so pure, and so bright.
My distress, my Lord, is beyond the power of words to describe. I revere, I honour, and will to my last, hour, the Marquis and Marchioness of Porretta, and on better motives than for their grandeur or nobility. Their sons—You know not, my Lord, the pride I have always had to be distinguished even by a nominal relation to them: And give me your Clementina, without the hard conditions you prescribe, and I shall be happy beyond my highest wish. I desire not dowry with her. I have a father on whose generosity and affection I can rely. But I must repeat, my Lord, that my principles are so well known, that I hoped a compromise would be accepted—I would not for the world compel your sister. The same liberty that I crave, I would allow.
And will you not take time, Sir, to consider? Are you absolutely determined?
If your Lordship know the pain it gives me to say that I am, you would pity me.
Well, Sir, I am sorry for it. Let us go in to Signor Jeronymo. He has been your advocate ever since he knew you. Jeronymo has gratitude; but you, Chevalier, have no affections.
I thank God, said I, that your Lordship does not do me justice.
He led me into his brother's apartment.
There, what did I not suffer, from the Friendship, from the Love of that brother, and from the urgency of the Bishop! But what was the result?
The Bishop asked me, If he were to conduct me to his father, to his mother, to his sister? Or to allow me to depart without seeing them?—This was the alternative. My compliance or non-compliance was to be thus indicated. I respectfully bowed. I recommended myself to the favour of the two brothers, and thro' them to that of the three truly-respectable persons they had named; and withdrew to my lodgings with a heart sorely distressed.
I was unable to stir out for the remainder of the day. The same chair into which I threw myself, upon my first coming in, held me for hours.
In the evening Camilla, in disguise, made me a visit. On my servant's withdrawing, revealing herself, O Sir, said she, what a distracted family have I left! They know not of my coming hither; but I could not forbear this officiousness: I cannot stay. But let me just tell you how unhappy we are; and your own generosity will suggest to you, what is best to be done.
As soon as you were gone, my Lord Bishop acquainted my Lady Marchioness with what had passed between you. O Sir! you have an affectionate friend in Signor Jeronymo. He endeavoured to soften every thing. My Lady Marchioness acquainted my Lord with the Bishop's report. I never saw that good nobleman in such a passion. It is not necessary to tell you what he said—
In a passion with me, Camilla!
Yes. He thought the whole family dishonoured, Sir.
The Marquis della Porretta is the worthiest of men, Camilla, said I. I honour him.—But proceed.
The Marchioness, in the tenderest manner, broke the matter to my young Lady: I was present. She apprehended, that there might be occasion for my attendance, and commanded me to stay.
Before she could speak all she had to say, my young Lady threw herself on her knees to her mamma, and blessing her for her goodness to her, begged her to spare the rest. I see, said she, that I, a daughter of the Porretta family, your daughter, madam, am refused. Palliate not, I beseech you, the indignity. You need not. It is enough, that I am refused. Surely, madam, your Clementina is not so base in spirit, as to need your maternal consolation on such a contempt as this. I feel for my papa, for you, madam, and for my brothers, I feel the indignity. Blessings follow the man wherever he goes! It would be mean to be angry with him. He is his own master! and now he has made me my own mistress. Never fear, madam, but this affair now will sit as light upon me, as it ought. His humility will allow him to be satisfied with a meaner wife. You, madam, my papa, my brothers, shall not find me mean.
The Marchioness embraced, with tears of joy, her beloved daughter. She brought my Lord to her, and reported what her daughter had said: He also tenderly embraced the dear young Lady, and rejoiced in her assurances, that now the cure was effected.
But, unseasonably, as the event showed, Father Marescotti, being talked with, was earnest to be allowed to visit her: Then, he said, was the proper time, the very crisis, to urge her to accept of the Count of Belvedere.
I was bid to tell her, that his Reverence desired to attend her.
O let me go, said she, to Florence; to my dear Mrs. Beaumont!—To-morrow morning let me go; and not see Father Marescotti, till I can see him as I wish to see him!
But the good Father prevailed: He meant the best.
He was with her half an hour. He left her in a melancholy way. When her mamma went to her, she found her spiritless, her eyes fixed, and as gloomy as ever. She was silent to two or three of her mother's questions; and when she did speak, it was with wildness; but declaring, without being solicited in the Count of Belvedere's favour, against marrying him, or any man in the world.
Her mother told her, she should go to Florence, as soon as she pleased: But then the humour was off. Would to Heaven she had gone before she saw his Reverence! So they all now wish.
Camilla, said she to me, when we were alone, Was it necessary to load the Chevalier Grandison? Was it necessary to inveigh against him? It was ungenerous to do so. Was the man obliged to have the creature whose forwardness had rendered her contemptible in his eyes? I could not bear to hear him inveighed against. But never, never, let me hear his named mentioned. But, Camilla, I cannot bear being despised, neither.
She arose from her seat, and from that moment her humour took a different turn. She now talks: She raves: She starts: She neither sits nor stands with quietness—She walks up and down her room, at other times, with passion and hurry; yet weeps not, tho' she makes every-body else weep. She speaks to herself, and answers herself; and, as I guess, repeats part of the talk that passed between Father Marescotti and her: But still, To be despised! are the words she oftenest repeats—Jesu! once, said she—To be despised! —And by an English Protestant! Who can bear that?
In this way, Sir, is Lady Clementina. The sweetest creature! I see, I see, you have compassion, Sir! You never wanted humanity! Generosity is a part of your nature! I am sure you love her—I see you love her—I pain your noble heart! Indeed, indeed, Sir, Lady Clementina's Love extended beyond the limits of this world: She hoped to be yours to all eternity.
Well might Camilla, the sensible, the faithful, the affectionate Camilla, the attendant from infant years of her beloved Clementina, thus run on, without interruption. I could not speak. And had I been able, to what purpose should I have pleaded to Camilla the superior attachment which occasioned an anguish that words cannot describe?
What can I say, but thank you, my good Camilla, for your intention? I hope you have eased your own heart; but you have loaded mine—Nevertheless, I thank you. Would to Heaven that your Lady's own wishes had been complied with; that she had been encouraged to go to the excellent Mrs. Beaumont! The first natural impulses of the distressed heart often point out the best alleviation. Would to Heaven they had been pursued! I have great dependence on the generous friendship of Signor Jeronymo. All that is in my power to do, I will do, I honour, I venerate, every one of the truly-noble family: I never can deserve their favour. On all occasions, Camilla, let them know my devotion to them.
I beg of God, said she, to put it into your heart to restore the tranquillity of a family that was, till lately, the happiest in Bologna. It may not be yet too late. I beg you to excuse my officiousness. Pray take no notice that I have waited on you. I shall be wanted.
She was hastening away. Good Camilia, said I, taking a ring of some value from my finger, and forcing it upon hers (she is above accepting of pecuniary presents, and struggled against this), Accept this as a remembrance, not acknowledgement. I may be forbid the palace of the Marquis della Porretta, and so have no opportunity again to see the equally faithful and obliging Camilla.
What other conditions could have been prescribed, Dr. Bartlett, that I should have refused to comply with? How was I anew distressed, at the account Camilla gave me! But my great consolation in the whole transaction is that my own heart, on the maturest deliberation, acquits me: And the rather, as it is impossible for me to practise a greater piece of self-denial: For can there be on earth a nobler Lady than Clementina?
The next morning, early, Mr. Grandison received the following Letter from his friend Signor Jeronymo. I translated it, my good Miss Byron, at the time I received it. I will send you the translation, only.
My dear Chevalier!
Shall I blame you?—I cannot. Shall I blame my father, my mother?—They blame themselves, for the free access you were allowed to have to their Clementina; yet they own, that you acted nobly. But they had forgot that Clementina had eyes. Yet who knew not her discernment? Who knew not her regard for merit wherever she found it? Can I therefore blame my sister?—Indeed, no. Has she a brother whom I can blame?—No. But ought I not to blame myself? The dear creature owned, it seems, to Mrs. Beaumont, that my declaration in your favour, which was made long before you knew it, was one of her influences. Must I therefore accuse myself?—If I regard my intention, gratitude, for a life preserved by you, and for a sense of my social duties (soul as well as body indebted to you, tho' a Protestant yourself) will not suffer it. Is there then nobody whom we can blame for the calamity befallen us?—How strangely is that calamity circumstanced!
But is there so irreconcilable a difference between the two religions?—There is: The Bishop says there is: Clementina thinks there is: My father, my mother, think there is.
But does your father think so? Will you put the whole matter on that issue, Chevalier?
O no, you will not. You are as determined as we are: Yet, surely, with less reason.
But I debate not the matter with you. I know you are a master of the question.
But what is to be done? Shall Clementina perish? Will not the gallant youth, who ventured his life so successfully to save a brother, exert himself to preserve a sister?
Come, and see the way she is in—Yet they will not admit you into her presence while she is in that way.
The sense she has of her dignity debased, and the perpetual expostulations and apprehensions of her zealous confessor—Can the good man think it his duty to wound and tear in pieces a mind tenacious of its honour, and of that of the Sex? At last, you see, I have found somebody to accuse.—But I come to my motive of giving you this trouble.
It is to request you to make me a visit. Breakfast with me, my dear Chevalier, this morning. You will perhaps see nobody else.
Camilla has told me, and only me, that she attended you last night: She tells me how greatly you are grieved. I should renounce your friendship, were you not. At my soul, I pity you, because I knew, long since, your firm attachment to your religion; and because you love Clementina.
I wish I were able to attend you; I would save you the pain of this visit; for I know it must pain you: But come, nevertheless.
You hinted to my brother, that you thought, as your principles were so well known, a compromise would be accepted—Explain yourself to me upon this compromise. If I can smooth the way between you—Yet I despair that any-thing will do but your conversion. They love your soul; they think they love it better than you do yourself. Is there not a merit in them, which you cannot boast in return?
The General, I hear, came to town last night: We have not seen him yet. He had business with the Gonfalionere. I think you must not meet. He is warm. He adores Clementina. He knew not, till last night, that the Bishop broke it to him at that magistrate's, our unhappy situation. What a disappointment! One of the principal views he had in coming was, to do you honour, and, and to give his sister pleasure. Ah, Sir! he came to be present at two solemn acts: The one your Nuptials, in consequence of the other.—You must not meet. It would go to my heart, to have offence given you by any of my family, especially in our own house.
Come, however; I long to see you, and to comfort you, whether your hard heart (I did not use to think it a hard one) will allow you, or not, to give comfort to
Your ever-affectionate and faithful friend,
JERONYMO della PORRETTA.
I accepted of the invitation. My heart was in this family: I longed, before this Letter came, to see and to hear from it. The face of the meanest servant belonging to it would have been more than welcome to me. What, however, were my hopes? Yet, do you think, Dr. Bartlett, that I had not pain in going; a pain that took more than its turn, with the desire I had once more to enter doors that used to be opened to me with so much pleasure on both sides?
Dr. Bartlett's fifth Letter.
Mr. Grandison thus proceeds: I was introduced to Signor Jeronymo. He sat expecting me. He bowed more stiffly than usual, in return to my freer compliment.
I see, said I, that I have lost my friend.
Impossible, said he. It cannot be.
Then speaking of his sister, Dear creature! said he. A very bad night. My poor mother has been up with her ever since Three o'clock: Nobody else has any influence with her. These talking fits are worse than her silent ones.
What could I say? My soul was vexed. My friend saw it, and was grieved for me. He talked of indifferent things. I could not follow him in them.
He then entered upon the subject that would not long allow of any other. I expect the General, said he. I will not, I think, have you see each other. I have ordered notice to be given me before any one of the family is admitted, while you are with me. If you choose not to see the General, or my father or mother, should they step in to make their morning compliments, you can walk down the back-stairs into the garden, or into the next chamber.
I am not the least sufferer in this distress, replied I. You have invited me. If on your own account you would have me withdraw, I will; but else I cannot conceal myself.
This is like you. It is you yourself. O Grandison! that we could be real brothers!—In soul we are so. But what is the compromise you hinted at?
I then told him, That I would reside one year in Italy, another in England, by turns, if the dear Clementina would accompany me; if not, but three months in England, in every year. As to religion, she should keep her own; her confessor only to be a man of known discretion.
He shook his head. I'll propose it as from yourself, if you would have me do so, Chevalier. It would do with me; but will not with any-body else. I have undertaken for more than that already; but it will not be heard of. Would to God, Chevalier, that you, for my sake, for all our sakes.—But I know you have a great deal to say on this subject, as you told my brother. New converts, added he, may be zealous; but you old Protestants, Protestants by descent, as I may say, 'tis strange you should be so very steadfast. You have not many young gentlemen, I believe, who would be so very tenacious; such offers, such advantages—And surely you must love my sister! All our family, you surely love. I will presume to say, they deserve your love; and they give the strongest proofs that can be given of their regard for you.
Signor Jeronymo expected not an argumentative answer to what he said. My steadfastness was best expressed; and surely it was sufficiently expressed (the circumstances of the case so interesting) by silence.
Just then came in Camilla. The Marchioness, Sir, knows you are here. She desires you will not go till she sees you. She will attend you here, I believe.
She is persuading Lady Clementina to be blooded. She has an aversion to that operation. She begs it may not be done. She has been hitherto, on that account, bled by leaches. The Marquis and the Bishop are both gone out. They could not bear her solicitations to them to save her, as she called it.
The Marchioness soon after entered Care, melancholy, yet tenderness, was in her aspect: Grief for her daughter's malady seemed fixed in the lines of her fine face. Keep your seat, Chevalier. She sat down, sighed, wept; but would not have had her tears seen.
Had I not been so deeply concerned in the cause of her grief, I could have endeavoured to comfort her. But what could I say? I turned my head aside. I would also have concealed my emotion, but Signor Jeronymo took notice of it.
The poor Chevalier, kindly said he, with an accent of compassion—
I don't doubt it, answered she, as kindly, tho' he spoke not out what he had to say. He may be obdurate; but not ungrateful.
Excellent woman! How was I affected by her generosity! This was taking the direct road to my heart. You know that heart, Dr. Bartlett, and what a task it had.
Jeronymo enquired after his sister's health; I was afraid to enquire.
Not worse, I hope; but so talkative! poor thing! She burst into tears.
I presumed to take her hand—O Madam! Will no compromise! Will no—
It ought not, Chevalier. I cannot urge it. We know your power, too well we know your power over the dear creature. She will not be long a Catholic, if she be yours; and you know what we then should think of her precious soul!—Better to part with her for ever—Yet, how can a mother—Her tears spoke what her lips could not utter.
Recovering her voice, I have left her, said she, contending with the doctors against being let blood. She was so earnest with me to prevent it, that I could no stay. It is over by this time—She rang.
At that moment, to the astonishment of all three, in ran the dear Clementina herself.—A happy escape! Thank God! said she—Her arm bound up.
She had felt the lancet; but did not bleed more than two or three drops.
O my mamma! And you would have run away from me too, would you!—You don't use to be cruel; and to leave me with these doctors—See! see! and she held out her lovely arm a little bloody, regarding nobody but her mother; who, as well as we, was speechless with surprise—They did attempt to wound; but they could not obtain their cruel ends—And I ran for shelter to my mamma's arms (throwing hers about her neck) Dearest, dearest madam, don't let me be sacrificed. What has your poor child done, to be thus treated?—
O my Clementina!
And O my mamma, too! Have I not suffered enough!—
The door opened. She cast her fearful eye to it, clinging faster to her mother.—They are come to take me! Begone, Camilla (It was she) begone, when I bid you! They sha'n't take me—My mamma will save me from them—Won't you, my mamma? clasping more servently her arms about her neck, and hiding her face in her bosom. Then lifting up her face, Begone, I tell you, Camilla. They sha'n't have me.—Camilla withdrew.
Brother! my dear brother! you will protect me: won't you?
I arose. I was unable to bear this affecting scene—She saw me.
Good God! said she.—Then in English breaking out into that line of Hamlet, which she had taken great notice of, when we read that play together—
Angels, and ministers of grace, defend us!
She left her mother, and stepped gently towards me, looking earnestly with her face held out, as if she were doubtful whether it were I, or not.
I snatched her hand, and pressed it with my lips—O madam!—Dearest Lady!—I could say no more.
It is he! It is he, indeed, madam! turning her head to her mother, one hand held up, as in surprise, as I detained the other.
The son's arms supported the almost fainting mother; his tears mingling with hers.
For God's sake! for my sake, dear Grandison! said he, and stopped.
I quitted Clementina's hand; Jeronymo's unhealed wounds had weakened him, and I hastened to support the Marchioness.
O Chevalier! spare your concern for me, said she. My child's head is of more consequence to me, than my own heart.
What was it of distress that I did not at that moment feel!
The young Lady turning to us—Well, Sir, said she, Here is sad work! Sad work, to be sure! Somebody is wrong: I won't say who.—But you will not let these doctors use me ill—Will you?—See here! showing her bound up arm to me—what they would have done!—See! They did get a drop or two; but no more. And I sprung from them, and ran for it.
Her mother then taking her attention, My dearest mamma! How do you!—
O my child! and she clasped her arms about her Clementina.
Camilla came in. She added by her grief to the distressful scene. She threw her arms, kneeling, about the Marchioness: O my dearest Lady! said she.—The Marchioness feeling for her salts, and taking them out of her pocket, and smelling to them; Unclasp me, Camilla, said she: I am better. Are the doctors gone?
No, madam, whispered Camilla: But they say, It is highly proper; and they talk of blistering!—
Not her head, I hope!—The dear creature, when she used to value herself upon any-thing, took pride, as well she might, in her hair.
Now you are whispering, my mamma—And this impertinent Camilla is come—Camilla, they shall not have me, I tell you!—See, barbarous wretches! what they have done to me already!—again holding up her arm, and then with indignation tearing off the fillet.
Her brother begged of her to submit to the operation. Her mother joined her gentle command—Well, I won't love you, brother, said she: You are in the plot against me—But here is one who will protect me; laying her hand upon my arm, and looking earnestly in my face, with such a mixture of woe and tenderness in her eye, as pierced my very soul.
Persuade her, Chevalier, said the Marchioness.
My good young Lady, Will you not obey your mamma? You are not well. Will you not be well? See how you distress your noble brother!
She stroked her brother's cheek (It was wet with his tears) with a motion inimitably tender, her voice as inimitably soothing—Poor Jeronymo! My dearest brother! And have you not suffered enough from vile assassins? Poor dear brother!—and again stroked his cheek—How was I affected!
A fresh gush of tears broke from his eyes—Ah, Grandison! said he!
O why, why, said I, did I accept of your kind invitation? This distress could not have been so deep, had not I been present.
See! see! Chevalier, holding out her spread hand to me, Jeronymo weeps—He weeps for his sister, I believe—These—Look, my hand is wet with them! are the tears of my dear Jeronymo! My hand—See! is wet with a brother's tears!—And you, madam, are affected too! turning to her mother. It is a grievous thing to see men weep! What ail they?—Yet I cannot weep—Have they softer hearts than mine?—Don't weep, Chevalier—See, Jeronymo has done!—I would stroke your cheek too, if it would stop your tears—But what is all this for?—It is because of these doctors, I believe—But, Camilla, bid them begone: They sha'n't have me.
Dearest madam, said I, submit to your mamma's advice. Your mamma wishes you to suffer them to breathe a vein—It is no more—Your Jeronymo also beseeches you to permit them.
And do you wish it too, Chevalier?—Do you wish to see me wounded?—To see my heart bleeding at my arm, I warrant. Say, can you be so hard-hearted?
Let me join with your mamma, with your brother, to entreat it: For your father's sake! For—
For your sake, Chevalier?—Well, will it do you good to see me bleed?
I withdrew to the window. I could not stand this question; put with an air of tenderness for me, and in an accent equally tender.
The irresistible Lady (O what eloquence in her disorder!) followed me; and laying her hand on my arm, looking earnestly after my averted face, as if she would not suffer me to hide it from her—Will it, will it, comfort you to see me bleed?—Come then, be comforted; I will bleed: But you shall not leave me. You shall see that these doctors shall not kill me quite.
O Dr. Bartlett! How did this address to me torture my very soul!
Camilla, proceeded she, I will bleed. Madam, to her mother, Will it please you to have me bleed? Will it please you, my Jeronymo? turning to him—And, Sir, Sir, stepping to me with quickness, Will it please you? —Why then, Camilla, bid the doctors come in—What would I not do to please such kind friends? You grudge not your tears: And as I cannot give you tears for tears, from my eyes, Shall not my arm weep!—But do you stand by me, Chevalier, while it is done. You will? Won't you?—seeking again with her eye my averted face.
O that my life, thought I, would be an effectual offering for the restoring the peace of mind of this dear Lady, and her family! and that it might be taken by any hand but my own!—But my Conscience!—Prepossessed as I am in favour of my own religion, and in disfavour of that I am wished to embrace; How, thought I, can I make a sacrifice of my Conscience!
The dear Lady was then as earnest for the operation, as before she had been averse to it: But she did and said every-thing in an hurry.
The Marchioness and my friend were comforted, in hopes that some relief would follow it. The doctors were invited in.
Do you stand by me, Sir, said she to me—Come, make haste. But it sha'n't be the same arm—Camilla, see, I can bare my own arm—It will bleed at this arm, I warrant—I will bid it flow—Come, make haste—Are you always so tedious?—The preparation in all these things, I believe, is worse than the act—Pray, pray, make haste.
They did; tho' she thought they did not.
Turn your face another way, madam, said the doctor.
Now methinks I am Iphigenia, Chevalier, going to be offered—looking at me, and from the doctors.
And is this all?—The puncture being made, and she bleeding freely.
The doctors were not satisfied with a small quantity. She fainted, however, before they had taken quite so much as they intended; and her women carried her out of her brother's apartment into her own, in the chair she sat in.
Dear Clementina!—My compassion and my best wishes followed her.
You see your power over the dear girl, Grandison, said her brother.
The Marchioness sighed; and looking at me with kind and earnest meaning, withdrew to attend her daughter's recovery.
Volume III - lettera 31
Volume III - Letter 32
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Receive, my Lucy, the doctor's sixth Letter. The fifth has almost broken the hearts of us all.
Dr. Bartlett's sixth Letter.
A Scene of another nature took place of this, proceeds Mr. Grandison.
Camilla stepped in, and said, The General was come; and was at that moment lamenting with the Marchioness the disordered state of mind of his beloved sister; who had again fainted away; but was quiet when Camilla came in.
The General will be here presently, said Jeronymo. Do you choose to see him?
As, perhaps, he has been told I am here, it would look too particular to depart instantly. If he comes not in soon, I will take my leave of you.
I had hardly done speaking, when the General entered, drying his eyes.
Your servant, Mr. Grandison, said he. Brother, How do you? Not the better, I dare say, for the present affliction. Who the devil would have thought the girl had been so deeply affected?—Well, Sir, you have a glorious triumph!—Clementina's heart is not a vulgar one. Her family—
My Lord, I hope I do not deserve this address!—Triumph, my Lord!—Not a heart in this family can be more distressed than mine.
And is religion, is conscience, really of such force, Chevalier?
Let me ask that question, my Lord, of your own heart: Let me ask it of your brother the Bishop; of the other principles of your noble family: And the answer given will be an answer for me.
He seemed displeased. Explain yourself, Chevalier.
If, my Lord, said I, you think there is so great, so essential, a difference in the two religions, that you cannot consent that I should keep my own; What must I be, who think as highly of my own as you can of yours, to give it up, tho' on the highest temporal consideration? Make the case your own, my Lord.
I can. And were I in your situation, such a woman as my sister; such a family as ours; such a splendid fortune as she will have; I believe, I should not make the scruples you do. My brother the Bishop indeed might not have given the same answer: He might be more tenacious.
The Bishop cannot be better satisfied with his religion than I am with mine. But I hope, my Lord, from what you have said, that I may claim the honour of your friendship in this great article. It is proposed to me, that I renounce my religion: I make no such proposal to your family: On the contrary, I consent that Lady Clementina should keep hers; and I am ready to allow a very handsome provision for a discreet man, her confessor, to attend her, in order to secure her in it. As to residence; I will consent to reside one year in Italy, one in England; and even, if she choose not to go to England at all, I will acquiesce; and visit England myself but for three months in every year.
As to the children, Mr. Grandison? said Signor Jeronymo; desirous of promoting the compromise.
I will consent that daughters shall be the mother's care; the education of sons must be left to me.
What will the poor daughters have done, Chevalier, sneeringly spoke the General, that they should be left to perdition?
Your Lordship, without my entering into the opinion of the professors of both religions on this subject, will consider my proposal as a compromise. I would not have began an address upon these terms with a princess. I do assure you, that mere fortune has no bias with me. Prescribe not to me in the article of religion, and I will, with all my soul, give up every ducat of your sister's fortune.
Then what will you have to support—
My Lord, leave that to your sister and me. I will deal honourably with her. If she renounce me on that article, you will have reason to congratulate yourselves.
Your fortune, Sir, by marriage, will be much more considerable than it can be by patrimony, if Clementina be yours: Why then should you not look forward to your posterity as Italians? And in that case—
He stopped there—It was easy to guess at his inference.
I would no more renounce my Country than my Religion: I would leave posterity free; but would not deprive them of an attachment that I value myself upon: Nor yet my country, of a family that never gave it cause to be ashamed of it.
The General took snuff, and looked on me, and off me, with an air too supercilious. I could not but be sensible of it.
I have no small difficulty, my Lord, said I, to bear the hardships of my situation, added to the distress which that situation gives me, to be looked upon in this family as a delinquent, without having done anything to reproach myself with, either in thought, word, or deed—My Lord, it is extremely hard.
It is, my Lord, said Signor Jeronymo. The great misfortune in the case before us, is, that the Chevalier Grandison has merit superior to that of most men; and that our sister, who was not to be attached by common merit, could not be insensible to his.
Whatever were my sister's attachments, Signor Jeronymo, we know yours; and generous ones they are: But we all know how handsome men may attach young Ladies, without needing to say a single word. The poison once taken in at the eye, it will soon diffuse itself through the whole mass.
My honour, yet, my Lord, was never called in question, either by man or woman.
Your character is well known, Chevalier—Had it not been unexceptionable, we should not have entered into treaty with you on this subject, I do assure you; and it piques us not a little to have a daughter of our house refused. You don't know the consequence, I can tell you, of such an indignity offered in this country.
Refused! my Lord!—To endeavour to obviate this charge, would be to put an affront upon your Lordship's justice, as well as an indignity offered to your truly noble house.
He arose in anger, and swore that he would not be treated with contempt.
I stood up too; And if I am, my Lord, with indignity, it is not what I have been used to bear.
Signor Jeronymo was disturbed. He said, He was against our seeing each other. He knew his brother's warmth; and I, he said, from the scenes that had before passed, ought perhaps to have shown more pity than resentment.
It was owing to my regard for the delicacy of you sister, Signor Jeronymo, said I (for whom I have the tenderest sentiments), as well as to do Justice to my own conduct towards her, that I could not help showing myself affected by the word refused.
Affected by the word refused! Sir, said the General—Yes, you have soft words for hard meanings. But I, who have not your choice of words, make use of those that are explained by actions.
I was in hopes, my Lord, that I might rather have been favoured with your weight in the proposed compromise, than to have met with your displeasure.
Consider, Chevalier, coolly consider this matter: How shall we answer it to our country? (We are public people, Sir); to the church, to which we stand related; to our own character: to marry a daughter of our house to a Protestant? You say you are concerned for her honour: What must we, what can we say in her behalf, when she is reflected upon as a Lovesick girl, who, tho' steadfast in her religion, could refuse men of the first consideration, all of her own religion and country, and let a foreigner, an Englishman, carry her off?—
Preserving nevertheless by stipulation, you will remember, my Lord, her religion.—If you shall have so much to answer for to the world with such a stipulation in the Lady's favour, What shall I be thought of, who, tho' I am not, nor wish to be, a public man, am not of a low or inconsiderable family, if I, against my conscience, renounce my religion and my country, for a consideration, that, tho' the highest in private life, is a partial and selfish consideration?
No more, no more, Sir—If you can despise worldly grandeur; if you can set light by Riches, Honours, Love; my sister has this to be said in her praise, that she is the first woman, that ever I heard of, who fell in love with a philosopher: And she must, I think, take the consequence of such a peculiarity. Her example will not have many followers.
Yes, my Lord, it will, said Jeronymo, if Mr. Grandison be the philosopher. If women were to be regimented, he would carry an army into the field without beat of drum.
I was vexed to find an affair that had penetrated my heart, go off so lightly; but the levity shown by the General was followed by Jeronymo, in order to make the past warmth between us forgotten.
I left the brothers together. As I passed through the salon, I had the pleasure of hearing, by a whisper from Camilla, that her young Lady was somewhat more composed for the operation she had yielded to.
In the afternoon, the General made me a visit at my lodgings. He told me, he had taken amiss some things that had fallen from my mouth.
I owned that I was at one time warm; but excused myself by his example.
I urged him to promote my interest as to the proposed compromise. He gave me no encouragement; but took down my proposals in writing.
He asked me, If my father were as tenacious in the article of religion as I was?
I told him, That I had forborne to write any-thing of the affair to my father.
That, he said, was surprising. He had always apprehended, that a man who pretended to be strict in religion, be it what religion it would, should be uniform. He who could dispense with one duty, might with another.
I answered, That having no view to address Lady Clementina, I had only given my father general accounts of the favour I had met with from a family so considerable: That it was but very lately that I had entertained any hopes at all, as he must know: That those hopes were allayed by my fears that the articles of religion and residence would be an insuperable obstacle: But that it was my resolution, in the same hour that I could have any prospect of succeeding, to lay all before him; and I was sure of his approbation and consent to an alliance so answerable to the magnificence of his own spirit.
The General, at parting, with an haughty air, said, I take my leave, Chevalier: I suppose you will not be in haste to leave Bologna. I am extremely sensible of the indignity you have cast upon us all. I am, and swore—We shall not disgrace our sister and ourselves, by courting your acceptance of her. I understand, that Olivia is in Love with you too. These contentions for you may give you consequence with yourself. But Olivia is not a Clementina. You are in a country jealous of family-honour. Ours is a first family in it. You know not what you have done, Sir.
What you have said, my Lord, I have not deserved of you. It can-not be answered, at least by me. I shall not leave Bologna till I apprize you of it, and till I have the misfortune to be assured, that I cannot have any hope of the honour once designed me. I will only add, That my principles were well known before I was written to at Vienna.
And do you reproach us with that step? It was a base one: It had not my concurrence. He went from me in a passion.
I had enough at my heart, Dr. Bartlett, had I been spared this insult from a brother of Clementina. It went very hard with me to be threatened. But I thank God, I do not deserve the treatment.
Volume III - lettera 32
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