| indice letture JA | home page |
THE HISTORY OF
Volume IV - Letter 11
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Tuesday, April 4.
Sir Charles Grandison came to town last night. He was so polite, as to send to enquire after my health; and to let Mr. Reeves know, that he would do himself the honour, as he called it, of breakfasting with him this morning. Very ceremonious either for his own sake or for mine—Perhaps for both.
So I am in expectation of seeing within this half hour, the noble Clementina's future—Ah Lucy!
The compliment, you see, is to Mr. Reeves—Shall I stay above, and see if he will ask for me? He owes me something for the emotion he gave me in Lord L.'s library. Very little of him since have I seen.
"Honour forbids me, said he, then: Yet honour bids me.—But I cannot be ungenerous, selfish"
—These words are still in my ear.—What could he mean by them?—Honour forbids me—What! to explain himself? He had been telling me a tender tale: He had ended it. What did honour forbid him to do?—Yet honour bids me! Why then did he not follow the dictates of honour?
But I cannot be unjust:—To Clementina he means. Who wished him to be so?—Unjust! I hope not. It is a diminution to your glory, Sir Charles Grandison, to have the word unjust, in this way of speaking, in your thoughts! As if a good man had lain under a temptation to be unjust; and had but just recollected himself.
"I cannot be ungenerous." To the noble Lady, I suppose? He must take compassion on her. And did he think himself under an obligation to my forwardness to make this declaration to me, as to one who wished him to be ungenerous to such a lady for my sake!—I cannot bear the thought of this. Is it not as if he had said, "Fond Harriet, I see what you expect from me—But I must have compassion for, I cannot be ungenerous to, Clementina!"—But, what a poor word is compassion! Noble Clementina! I grieve for you, tho' the man be indeed a generous man!—O defend me, my better genius, from wanting the compassion even of a Sir Charles Grandison!
But what means he by the word selfish! He cannot be selfish!—I comprehend not the meaning of this word—Clementina has a very high fortune—Harriet but a very middling one. He cannot be unjust, ungenerous to Clementina—Nor yet selfish—This word confounds me, from a man that says nothing at random!
Well, but breakfast-time is come, while I am busy in self-debatings. I will go down, that I may not seem to affect parade. I will endeavour to see with indifference, him that we have all been admiring and studying for this last fortnight, in such a variety of lights. The Christian: The Hero: The Friend:—Ah, Lucy! The Lover of Clementina: The generous Kinsman of Lord W.: The modest and delicate Benefactor of the Mansfields: The free, gay, Raillier of Lady Beauchamp; and in her of all our Sex's Foibles!
But he is come! While I am prating to you with my pen, he is come.—Why, Lucy, would you detain me? Now must the fool go down in a kind of hurry: Yet stay till she is sent for.—And that is now.
LA STORIA DI
Volume IV - lettera 11
Volume IV - Letter 12
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
O Lucy, I have such a conversation to relate to you!—But let me lead to it.
Sir Charles met me at the opening of the door. He was all himself. Such an unaffected modesty and politeness; yet such an ease and freedom!
I thought by his address, that he would have taken my hand; and both hands were so emulatively passive.—How does he manage it to be so free in a first address, yet so respectful, that a princess could not blame him?
After breakfast, my cousins being sent for out to attend Sir John Allestree and his Niece, Sir Charles and I were left alone: And then, with an air equally solemn and free, he addressed himself to me.
The last time I had the honour of being alone with my good Miss Byron, I told her a very tender tale. I was sure it would raise in such a heart as hers generous compassion for the noblest lady on the Continent; and I presumed, as my difficulties were not owing either to rashness or indiscretion, that she would also pity the relator.
The story did indeed affect you; yet, for my own sake, as well as yours, I referred you to Dr. Bartlett, for the particulars of some parts of it, upon which I could not expatiate.
The doctor, madam, has let me know the particulars which he communicated to you. I remember with pain the pain I gave to your generous heart in Lord L.'s study. I am sure you must have suffered still more from the same compassionate goodness on the communications he made you. May I, madam however, add a few particulars to the same subject, which he then could not give you? Now you have been let into so considerable a part of my story, I am desirous to acquaint you, and that rather than any woman in the world, with all that I know myself of this arduous affair.
He ceased speaking. I was in tremors. Sir, Sir—The story I must own, is a most affecting one. How much is the unhappy lady to be pitied! You will do me honour in acquainting me with farther particulars of it.
Dr. Bartlett has told you, madam, that the Bishop of Nocera, second brother to Lady Clementina, has very lately written to me, requesting that I will make one more visit to Bologna—I have the Letter. You read Italian, madam. Shall I—Or will you—He held it to me.
I took it. These, Lucy, are the contents.
'The bishop acquaints him with the very melancholy way they are in. The father and mother declining in their healths. Signor Jeronymo worse than when Sir Charles left them. His Sister also declining in her health: Yet earnest still to see him.
'He says, That she is at present at Urbino; but is soon to go to Naples to the General's. He urges him to make them one visit more; yet owns, that his family are not unanimous in the request: But that he and Father Marescotti, and the Marchioness, are extremely earnest that this indulgence should be granted to the wishes of his dear Sister.
'He offers to meet him, at his own appointment, and conduct him to Bologna; where, he tells him, his presence will rejoice every heart, and procure an unanimous consent to the interview so much desired: And says, that if this measure, which he is sorry he has so long withstood, answers not his hopes, he will advise the shutting up of their Clementina in a Nunnery, or to consign her to private hands, where she shall be treated kindly, but as persons in her unhappy circumstances are accustomed to be treated.'
Sir Charles then showed me a Letter from Signor Jeronymo; in which he acquaints him with the dangerous way he is in. He tells him, 'That his life is a burden to him. He wishes it was brought to its period. He does not think himself in skilful hands. He complains most of the wound which is in his hip-joint and which has hitherto baffled the art both of the Italian and French surgeons who have been consulted. He wishes, that himself and Sir Charles had been of one country, he says, since the greatest felicity he now has to wish for, is to yield up his life to the Giver of it, in the arms of his Grandison.'
He mentions not one word in this melancholy Letter of his unhappy sister: Which Sir Charles accounted for, by supposing, that she not being at Bologna, they kept from him, in his deplorable way, everything relating to her, that was likely to disturb him.
He then read part of a Letter written in English, by the admired Mrs. Beaumont; some of the contents of which were, as you shall hear, extremely affecting:
'Mrs. Beaumont gives him in it an account of the situation of the unhappy young lady; and excuses herself for not having done it before, in answer to his request, by reason of an indisposition under which she had for some time laboured, which had hindered her from making the necessary enquiries.
'She mentions, that the Lady had received no benefit from her journeyings from place to place; and from her voyage from Leghorn to Naples, and back again; and blames her attendants, who to quiet her, unknown to their principals, for some time, kept her in expectation of seeing her Chevalier, at the end of each; for her more prudent Camilla, she says, had been hinder'd by illness from attending her, in several of the excursions.
'They had a second time, at her own request, put her into a Nunnery. She at first was so sedate in it as gave them hopes: But the novelty going off, and one of the sisters, to try her, having officiously asked her to go with her into the parlour, where she said, she would be allowed to converse through the grate with a certain English gentleman, her impatience, on her disappointment, made her more ungovernable than they had ever known her; for she had been for two hours before meditating what she would say to him.
'For a week together, she was vehemently intent upon being allowed to visit England; and had engaged her cousins, Sebastiano and Juliano, to promise to escort her thither, if she could obtain leave.
'Her mother brought her off this when nobody else could, only by entreating her, for her sake, never to think of it more.
'The Marchioness then, encouraged by this instance of her obedience, took her under her own care: But the young Lady going on from flight to flight; and the way she was in visibly affecting the health of her indulgent mother; a doctor was found, who was absolutely of opinion, that nothing but harsh methods would avail: And in this advice Lady Sforza, and her daughter Laurana, and the General, concurring, she was told, that she must prepare to go to Milan. She was so earnest to be excused from going thither, and to be permitted to go to Florence to Mrs. Beaumont, that they gave way to her entreaties; and the Marquis himself, accompanying her to Florence, prevailed on Mrs. Beaumont to take her under her care.
'With her she stayed three weeks: She was tolerably sedate in that space of time; but most so, when she was talking of England, and of the Chevalier Grandison, and his sisters, with whom she wished to be acquainted. She delighted to speak English, and to talk of the tenderness and goodness of her tutor; and of what he had said to her, upon such and such a subject.
'At the three weeks end, the General made her a visit, in company of Lady Sforza; and her talk being all on this subject, they were both highly displeased; and hinted, that she was too much indulged in it; and, unhappily, she repeating some tender passages that passed in the interview her mother had permitted her to hold with the Chevalier, the General would have it, that Mr. Grandison had designedly, from the first, sought to give himself consequence with her; and expressed himself, on the occasion, with great violence against him.
'He carried his displeasure to extremity, and obliged her to go away with his aunt and him that very day, to her great regret; and as much to the regret of Mrs. Beaumont, and of the Ladies her friends; who tenderly loved the innocent visionary, as sometimes they called her. And Mrs. Beaumont is sure, that the gentle treatment she met with from them, would in time, tho' perhaps slowly, have greatly helped her.'
Mrs. Beaumont then gives an account of the harsh treatment the poor young Lady met with.
Sir Charles Grandison would have stopped reading here. He said, he could not read it to me, without such a change of voice, as would add to my pain, as well as to his own.
Tears often stole down my cheeks, when I read the Letters of the Bishop and Signor Jeronymo, and as Sir Charles read a part of Mrs. Beaumont's Letter: And I doubted not but what was to follow would make them flow. Yet, I said, Be pleased, Sir, to let me read on. I am not a stranger to distress. I can pity others, or I should not deserve pity myself.
He pointed to the place; and withdrew to the window.
Mrs. Beaumont says, 'That the poor mother was prevailed upon to resign her child wholly to the management of Lady Sforza, and her daughter Laurana, who took her with them to their Palace in Milan.
'The tender parent, however, besought them to spare all unnecessary severity; which they promised: But Laurana objected to Camilla's attendance. She was thought too indulgent; and her servant Laura, as a more manageable person, was taken in her place.' And O how cruelly, as you shall hear, did they treat her!
Father Marescotti, being obliged to visit a dying relation at Milan, was desired by the Marchioness to inform himself of the way her beloved daughter was in, and of the methods taken with her, Lady Laurana having in her Letters boasted of both. The good Father acquainted Mrs. Beaumont with the following particulars:
'He was surprised to find a difficulty made of his seeing the Lady: But insisting on it, he found her to be wholly spiritless, and in terror; afraid to speak, afraid to look, before her cousin Laurana; yet seeming to want to complain to him. He took notice of this to Laurana—O Father, said she, we are in the right way, I assure you: When we had her first, her Chevalier, and an interview with him, were ever in her mouth; but now she is in such order, that she never speaks a word of him. But what, asked the compassionate Father, must she have suffered, to be brought to this? Don't you, Father, trouble yourself about that, replied the cruel Laurana: The doctors have given their opinion, that some severity was necessary. It is all for her good.
'The poor Lady expressed herself to him, with earnestness, after the veil; a subject on which, it seems, they indulged her; urging, that the only way to secure her health of mind, if it could be restored, was to yield to her wishes. Lady Sforza said, that it was not a point that she herself would press; but it was her opinion, that her family sinned in opposing a divine dedication; and, perhaps, their daughter's malady might be a judgment upon them for it.
The Father, in his Letter to Mrs. Beaumont, 'ascribes to Lady Sforza self-interested motives for her conduct; to Laurana, envy on account of Lady Clementina's superior qualities; But nobody, he says, till now, doubted Laurana's love of her.'
Father Marescotti then gives a shocking instance of the barbarous Laurana's treatment of the noble sufferer—All for her good—Wretch! how my heart rises against her! Her servant Laura, under pretence of confessing to her Bologna Father, in tears, acquainted him with it. It was perpetrated but the day before.
'When any severity was to be exercised upon the unhappy Lady, Laura was always shut out of her apartment. Her Lady had said something that she was to be chidden for. Lady Sforza, who was not altogether so severe as her daughter, was not at home. Laura listened in tears: She heard Laurana in great wrath with Lady Clementina, and threaten her—and her young Lady break out to this effect—What have I done to you, Laurana, to be so used?—You are not the cousin Laurana you used to be? You know I am not able to help myself: Why do you call me crazy, and frantic Laurana; [Vile upbraider, Lucy!] If the Almighty has laid his upon me, should I not be pitied?—
'It is all for your good! It is all for your good, Clementina! You could not always have spoken so sensibly, cousin.
'Cruel Laurana! You loved me once! I have no Mother, as you have. My Mother was a good Mother: But she is gone! Or I am gone, I know not which!
'She threatened her then with the Strait Waistcoat, a punishment which the unhappy Lady was always greatly terrified at. Laura heard her beg and pray, but, Laurana coming out, she was forced to retire.
'The poor young Lady apprehending her cruel cousin's return with the threatened waistcoat, and with the woman that used to be brought in when they were disposed to terrify her, went down and hid herself under a stair-case, where she was soon discovered by her cloths, which she had not been careful to draw in after her.'
O! Lucy! how I wept! How insupportable to me, said Sir Charles, would have been my reflexions, had my conscience told me, that I had been the wilful cause of the noble Clementina's calamity!
After I had a little recovered, I read to myself the next paragraph, which related, 'That the cruel Laurana dragged the sweet sufferer by her gown, from her hiding place, inveighing against her, threatening her: She, all patient, resigned, her hands crossed on her bosom, praying for mercy, not by speech, but by her eyes, which however wept not: And causing her to be carried up to her chamber, there punished her with the Strait Waistcoat as she had threatened.
'Father Marescotti was greatly affected with Laura's relation, as well as with what he had himself observed: But on his return to Bologna, dreading to acquaint her Mother, for her own sake, with the treatment her Clementina met with, he only said, he did not quite approve of it, and advised her not to oppose the young Lady's being brought home, if the Bishop and the General came into it: But he laid the whole matter before the Bishop, who wrote to the General to join with him out of hand, to release their sister from her present bondage: And the General meeting the Bishop on a set day at Milan, for that purpose, the Lady was accordingly released.
'A breach ensued upon it, with Lady Sforza and her daughter; who would have it, that Clementina was much better for their management. They had by terror broke her spirit, and her passiveness was reckoned upon as an indication of amendment.
'The Marchioness being much indisposed, the young Lady attended by her Camilla, was carried to Naples; where it is supposed she now is. Poor young Lady, how has she been hurried about!—But who can think of her cousin Laurana without extreme indignation?
'Mrs. Beaumont writes, that the Bishop would fain have prevailed upon his brother, the General, to join with him in an invitation to Sir Charles Grandison to come over, as a last expedient, before they locked her up either in a Nunnery, or in some private house: but the General would by no means come into it.
'He asked, What was proposed to be the end of Sir Charles's visit, were all that was wished from it to follow, in his sisters restored mind?—He never, he said, would give his consent that she should be the wife of an English protestant.
'The Bishop declared, that he was far from wishing her to be so: But he was for leaving that to after-consideration. Could they but restore his sister to her reason, that reason, co-operating with her principles, might answer all their hopes.
'He might try his expedient, the General said, with all his heart: But he looked upon the Chevalier Grandison to be a man of art; and he was sure he must have entangled his sister by methods imperceptible to her, and to them; but yet more efficacious to his ends, than an open declaration. Had he not, he asked, found means to fascinate Olivia and as many women as he came into company with?—For his part, he loved not the Chevalier. He had forced him by his intrepidity to be civil to him: But forced civility was but a temporary one. It was his way to judge of causes by the effects: And this he knew, that he had lost a sister who would have been a jewel in the Crown of a prince: And would not be answerable for consequences, if he and Sir Charles Grandison were once more to meet, be it where it would.
'Father Marescotti, however, joining, as the Bishop writes, with him, and the Marchioness, in a desire to try this expedient; and being sure that the Marquis and Signor Jeronymo would not be averse to it, he took a resolution to write over to him, as has been related.'
This, Lucy, is the state of the unhappy case, as briefly and as clearly as my memory will serve to give it. And what a rememberer, if I may make a word, is the heart!—Not a circumstance escapes it.
And now it remained for me to know of Sir Charles what answer he had returned.
Was not my situation critical, my dear? Had Sir Charles asked my opinion, before he had taken his resolutions, I should have given it with my whole heart, that he should fly to the comfort of the poor Lady. But then he would have shown a suspense unworthy of Clementina; and a compliment to me, which a good man so circumstanced ought not to make.
My regard for him (yet what a poor affected word is regard!) was nevertheless as strong as ever. Generosity, or rather justice, to Clementina, and that so often avowed regard to him, pulled my heart two ways.—I wanted to consider with myself for a few moments: I was desirous to clear the conduct that I was to show on this trying occasion, as well of precipitance as of affectation; and my cousin Reeves just then coming in for something she wanted, I took the opportunity, while he made a compliment to her, to say, as to both, I will return immediately: And withdrew.
I went up to my own apartment. I traversed my antechamber, three or four times: Harriet Byron, said I to myself, be not mean. Hast thou not the example of a Clementina before thee? Her religion and her love, combating together, have overturned the noble creature's reason. Thou canst not be called to such a trial: But canst thou not show, that if thou wert, thou couldst have acted greatly, if not so greatly?—Sir Charles Grandison is just: He ought to prefer to thee the excellent Clementina. Priority of claim, compassion for the noble sufferer, merits so superior!—I love him for his merits: Shall I not love merits nearly as great in one of my own sex? The struggle will cost thee something: But go down, and try to be above thyself.
Down I went, not displeased with myself for having been able to resolve upon such an effort. Banish'd to thy retirement, to thy pillow, thought I, be all the girl. Often have I contended for the dignity of my sex; let me now be an example to myself, and not unworthy in my own eyes (when I come to reflect) of an union, could it have been effected, with a man whom a Clementina looked up to with hope.
My cousin withdrew when I came in: Sir Charles met me at the door: I hope he saw dignity in my aspect, without pride.
I spoke, while spirit was high in me, and to keep myself up to it.—My heart bleeds, Sir, for the distresses of your Clementina [Yes, Lucy, I said your Clementina]. I could not but withdraw for a few moments to contemplate her great behaviour: and I most sincerely lament her distresses. What, that is in the power of man, cannot Sir Charles Grandison do? You have honoured me, Sir, with the title of Sister. In the tenderness of that relation, permit me to say, that I dread the effects of the General's petulance: I feel next for you the pain that it must give to your humane heart to be once more personally present to the woes of the inimitable Clementina: But I am sure you did not hesitate a moment about leaving all your friends here in England, and resolving to hasten over to try, at least, what can be done for the noble sufferer.
Had he praised me highly for this my address to him, it would have looked, such was the situation on both sides, as if he had thought this disinterested behaviour in me, an extraordinary piece of magnanimity, and self-denial; and, of consequence, as if he had supposed I had views upon him, which he wonder'd I could give up. His is the most delicate of human minds.
He led me to my seat, and taking his by me, still holding my passive hand—Ever since I have had the honour of Miss Byron's acquaintance, I have considered her as one of the most excellent of women. My heart demands alliance with hers; and hopes to be allowed its claim, tho' such are the delicacies of situation, that I scarcely dare to trust myself to speak upon the subject. From the first, I called Miss Byron my sister; but she is more to me than the dearest sister; and there is a more tender friendship that I aspire to hold with her, whatever may be the accidents, on either side, to bar a farther wish: And this I must hope, that she will not deny me, so long as it shall be consistent with her other attachments.
He paused, I made an effort to speak: But speech was denied me. My face, as I felt, glowed like the fire before me.
My heart, resumed he, is ever on my lips. It is tortured when I cannot speak all that is in it. Professions I am not accustomed to make. As I am not conscious of being unworthy of your friendship, I will suppose it; and farther talk to you of my affairs and engagements, as that tender friendship may warrant.
Sir, you do me honour, was all I could say.
I had a letter from the faithful Camilla. I hold not a correspondence with her: But the treatment that her young Lady met with, of which she had got some general intimations, and some words that the Bishop said to her, which expressed his wishes, that I would make them one more visit at Bologna, urged her to write, begging of me, for Heaven's sake, to go over. But unless one of the family had written to me, and by consent of others of it, what hope had I of a welcome, after I had been as often refused, as I had requested while I was in Italy, to be admitted to the presence of the Lady, who was so desirous of one interview more?—Especially, as Mrs. Beaumont gave me no encouragement to go, but the contrary, from what she observed of the inclinations of the family.
Mrs. Beaumont is still of opinion, as in the conclusion of the Letter before you, that I should not go, unless the General and the Marquis join their requests to those of the Marchioness, the Bishop, and Father Marescotti. But I had no sooner perused the Bishop's Letter than I wrote, that I would most cheerfully comply with his wishes: But that I should be glad that I might not be under any obligation to go farther than Bologna; where I might have the happiness to attend my Jeronymo, as well as well as his sister.
I had a little twitch at my heart, Lucy. I was sorry for it: But my judgment was entirely with him.
And now, madam, you will wonder, that you see not any preparations for my departure. All is prepared: I only wait for the company of one gentleman, who is settling his affairs with all expedition to go with me. He is an able, a skilful surgeon, who has had great practice abroad, and in the armies: And having acquired an easy fortune, is come to settle in his native country. My Jeronymo expresses himself dissatisfied with his surgeons. If Mr. Lowther can be of service to him, how happy shall I think myself! And if my presence can be a means to restore the noble Clementina—But how dare I hope it?—And yet I am persuaded, that in her case, and with such a temper of mind (unused to hardship and opposition as she had been) the only way to recover her, would have been by complying with her in every-thing that her heart or head was earnestly set upon: For what control was necessary to a young Lady, who never, even in the height of her malady, uttered a wish or thought that was contrary to her duty either to God, or her parents; nor yet to the honour of her name, and, allow me, madam, to say, the pride of her sex?
I am under an obligation to go to Paris, proceeded he, from the will of my late friend Mr. Danby. I shall stop there for a day or two only, in order to put things in a way for my last hand, on my return from Italy.
When I am in Italy, I shall perhaps be enabled to adjust two or three accounts that stand out, in relation to the affairs of my Ward.
This day at dinner I shall see Mrs. Oldham, and her sons; and in the afternoon, at tea, Mrs. O’Hara and her Husband, and Captain Salmonet.
To-morrow, I hope for the honour of your company, Madam, and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves at dinner; and be so good as to engage them for the rest of the day. You must not deny me; because I shall want your influence upon Charlotte, to make her fix Lord G's happy day, that I may be able to see their hands united before I set out: As my return will be uncertain—
Ah, Lucy, more twitches just then!—
Thursday next is the day fixed for the triple marriage of the Danby's. I have promised to give Miss Danby to Mr. Galliard, and to dine with them and their friends at Enfield.
If I can see my Lord W. and Charlotte happy before I go, I shall be highly gratified.
It is another of my wishes, to see my friend Beauchamp in England first, and to leave him in possession of his father's love, and of his mother-in-law's civility. Dr. Bartlett and he will be happy in each other. I shall correspond with the doctor. He greatly admires you, madam, and will communicate to you all you shall think worthy of your notice, relating to the proceedings of a man who will always think himself honoured by your enquiries after him.
Ah, Lucy! Sir Charles Grandison then sighed. He seemed to look more than he spoke. I will not promise for my heart, if he treats me with more than the tenderness of friendship: If he gives me room to think that he wishes—But what can he wish? He ought to be, he must be Clementina's: And I will endeavour to make myself happy, if I can maintain the second place in his friendship: And when he offers me this, shall I, Lucy, be so little as to be displeased with the man, who cannot be to me all that I had once hoped he could be?—No!—He shall be the same glorious creature in my eyes; I will admire his goodness of heart, and greatness of mind; and I will think him entitled to my utmost gratitude for the protection he gave me from a man of violence, and for the kindness he has already shown me. Is not friendship the basis of my Love? And does he not tender me that?
Nevertheless, at the time, do what I could, I found a tear ready to start. My heart was very untoward, Lucy; and I was guilty of a little female turn. When I found the twinkling of my eyes would not disperse the too ready drop, and felt it stealing down my cheek, I wiped it off—The poor Emily, said I—She will be grieved at parting with you. Emily loves her guardian.
And I love my ward. I once had a thought, madam, of begging your protection of Emily: But as I have two sisters, I think she will be happy under their wings, and in the protection of my good Lord L. and the rather, as I have no doubt of overcoming her unhappy mother, by making her husband's interest a guaranty for her tolerable, if not good, behaviour to her child.
I was glad to carry my thoughts out of myself, as I may say, and from my own concerns. We all, Sir, said I, look upon Mr. Beauchamp as a future—
Husband for Emily, madam, interrupted he?—It must not be at my motion. My friend shall be entitled to share with me my whole estate; but I will never seek to lead the choice of my WARD. Let Emily, some time hence, find out the husband she can be happy with; Beauchamp the wife he can love; Emily, if I can help it, shall not be the wife of any man's convenience. Beauchamp is nice, and I will be as nice for my WARD. And the more so, as I hope she herself wants not delicacy. There is a cruelty in persuasion, where the heart rejects the person proposed, whether the urger be parent or guardian.
Lord bless me, thought I, what a man is this!
Do you expect Mr. Beauchamp soon, Sir?
Every day, madam.
And is it possible, Sir, that you can bring all these things to bear before you leave England, and go so soon?
I fear nothing but Charlotte's whimsies: Have you, madam, any reason to apprehend that she is averse to an alliance with Lord G.? His father and aunt are very importunate for an early celebration.
None at all, Sir.
Then I shall depend much upon yours, and Lord and Lady L.'s influence over her.
He besought my excuse for detaining my attention so long. Upon his motion to go, my two cousins came in. He took even a solemn leave of me, and a very respectful one of them.
I had kept up my spirits to their utmost stretch, I besought my cousins to excuse me for a few minutes. His departure from me was too solemn; and I hurried up to my closet; and after a few involuntary sobs, a flood of tears relieved me. I besought, on my knees, peace to the disturbed mind of the excellent Clementina, calmness and resignation to my own, and safety to Sir Charles. And then, drying my eyes at the glass, I went down stairs to my cousins; and on their enquiries (with looks of deep concern) after the occasion of my red eyes, I said, All is over! All is over! my dear cousins. I cannot blame him: he is all that is noble and good—I can say no more just now. The particulars you shall have from my pen.
I went up stairs to write: And except for one half hour at dinner, and another at tea, I stopped not till I had done.
And here quite tired, uneasy, vexed with myself, yet hardly knowing why, I lay down my pen.—Take what I have written, cousin Reeves: If you can read it do: and then dispatch it to my Lucy.
But, on second thoughts, I will show it to the two Ladies, and Lord L. before it is sent away. They will be curious to know what passed in a conversation, where the critical circumstances both of us were in, required a delicacy which I am not sure was so well observed on my side, as on his.
I shall, I know, have their pity: But let nobody who pities not the noble Clementina show any for
Volume IV - lettera 12
Volume IV - Letter 13
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Tuesday Night, April 4.
Miss Grandison came to me just as we had supped. She longed, she said, to see me; but was prevented coming before, and desired to know what had passed between her brother and me this morning. I gave her the Letter, which I had but a little while before concluded. He had owned, she said, that he had breakfasted with me, and spoke of me to her and Lord and Lady L. with an ardor, that gave them pleasure. She put my Letter into her bosom. I may, I hope, Harriet—if you please, madam, said I.
If you please, madam, repeated she; and with that do-lo-rous accent too, my Harriet!—My sister and I have been in tears this Morning: Lord L. had much ado to forbear. Sir Charles will soon leave us.
It can't be helped, Charlotte. Did you dine to day in St. James's Square.
No, indeed!—My brother had a certain tribe with him; and the woman also. It is very difficult, I believe, Harriet, for good people to forbear doing sometimes more than goodness requires of them.
Could you not, Charlotte, have sat at table with them for one hour or two?
My brother did not ask me. He did not expect it. He gives every-body their choice, you know. He told me last night who were to dine with him to-day, and supposed I would choose to dine with Lady L. or with you, he was so free as to say.
He did us an honour, which you thought too great a one. But if he had asked you, Charlotte—
Then I should have bridled. Indeed, I asked him, If he did not over-do it.
What was his answer?
Perhaps he might.—But I, said he, may never see Mrs. Oldham again. I want to inform myself of her future intentions, with a view (over-do it again, Charlotte!) to make her easy and happy for life. Her children are in the world. I want to give her a credit that will make her remembered by them, as they grow up, with duty. I hope I am superior to forms. She is conscious. I can pity her. She is a gentlewoman; and entitled to a place at any man's table to whom she never was a servant. She never was mine.
And what, Miss Grandison, could you say in answer? asked I.
What!—Why I put up my lip.
I can't help it. That may become a man to do in such cases as this, that would not a woman.
Sir Charles wants not delicacy, my dear, said I.
He must suppose, that I should have sat swelling, and been reserved: He was right not to ask me—So be quiet, Harriet—And yet perhaps, you would be as tame to a husband's mistress, as you seem favourable to a father's.
She then put on one of her arch looks—
The cases differ, Charlotte—But do you know what passed between the generous man, and the mortified woman and her children; mortified as they must be by his goodness?
Yes, yes; I had curiosity enough to ask Dr. Bartlett about it all.
Dr. Bartlett is favourable to every-body, sinners as well as saints—He began with praising the modesty of her dress, the humility of her behaviour: He said, that she trembled and looked down, till she was reassured by Sir Charles. Such creatures have all their tricks, Harriet.
You, Charlotte, are not favourable to sinners, and hardly to saints. But pray proceed.
Why, he re-assured the woman, as I told you. And then proceeded to ask many questions of the elder Oldham—I pitied that young fellow—to have a mother in his eye, whose very tenderness to the young ones kept alive the sense of her guilt. And yet what would she have been, had she not been doubly tender to the innocents, who were born to shame from her fault? The young man acknowledged a military genius, and Sir Charles told him, that he would, on his return from a journey he was going to take, consider whether he could not do him service in the way he chose. He gave him, it seems, a brief lecture on what he should aim to be, and what avoid, to qualify himself for a man of true honour; and spoke very handsomely of such gentlemen of the army as are real gentlemen. The young fellow, continued Miss Grandison, may look upon himself to be as good as provided for, since my brother never gives the most distant hope that is not followed by absolute certainty, the first opportunity, not that offers, but which he can make.
He took great notice of the little boys. He dilated their hearts, and set them a prating; and was pleased with their prate. The doctor, who had never seen him before in the company of children, applauded him for his vivacity and condescending talk to them. The tenderest father in the world, he said, could not have behaved more tenderly, or showed himself more delighted with his own children, than he did with those brats of Mrs. Oldham.
Ah, Charlotte! And is it out of doubt, that you are the Daughter of Lady Grandison, and sister of Sir Charles Grandison?—Well, but I believe you are—Some children take after the father, some after the mother!—Forgive me, my dear.
But I won't. I have a great mind to quarrel with you, Harriet.
Pray don't; because I could neither help, nor can be sorry for, what I said. But pray proceed.
Why he made presents to the children. I don't know what they were; nor could the doctor tell me. I suppose very handsome ones; for he has the spirit of a prince. He enquired very particularly after the circumstances of the mother; and was more kind to her than many people would be to their own mothers.—He can account for this, I suppose,—tho' I cannot. The woman, it is true, is of a good family, and so forth: But that enhances her crime. Natural children abound in the present age. Keeping is fashionable. Good men should not countenance such wretches.—But my brother and you are charitable creatures!—With all my heart, child. Virtue, however, has at least as much to say on one side of the question as on the other.
When the poor children are in the world, as your brother said—When the poor women are penitents, true penitents—Your brother's treatment of Mrs. Giffard was different. He is in both instances an imitator of the Almighty; an humbler of the impenitent, and an encourager of those who repent.
Well, well; He is undoubtedly a good sort of young man; and, Harriet, you are a good sort of young woman. Where much is given, much is required: But I have not given me such a large quantity of charity, as either of you may boast: And how can I help it?—But, however, the woman went away blessing and praising him; and that, the doctor says, more with her eyes than she was able to do in words. The elder youth departed in rapturous reverence: The children hung about his knees, on theirs. The doctor will have it, that it was without bidding—Perhaps so—He raised them by turns to his arms, and kissed them.—Why, Harriet! Your eyes glisten, child. They would have run over, I suppose, had you been there! Is it, that your heart is weakened with your present situation? I hope not. No, you are a good creature! And I see that the mention of a behaviour greatly generous, however slightly made, will have its force upon a heart so truly benevolent as yours. You must be Lady Grandison, my dear: Indeed you must.—Well, but I must be gone. You dine with us to-morrow, my brother says?
He did ask me; and desired me to engage my cousins. But he repeated not the invitation when he went away.
He depends upon your coming: And so do we. He is to talk to me before you, it seems: I can't tell about what: But by his hurrying on every-thing, it is plain he is preparing to leave us.
He is, madam.
"He is, madam!"
And with that dejected air, and mendicant voice—Speak up like a woman!—The sooner he sets out, if he must go, the sooner he will return. Come, come, Harriet, you shall be Lady Grandison still—Ay! and that sigh too! These lovesick folks, have a language that no body else can talk to them in: And then she affectedly sighed—Is that right, Harriet?—She sighed again—No, it is not: I never knew what a sigh was, but when my father vexed my sister; and that was more for fear he should one day be as cruel to me, than for her sake. We can be very generous for others, Harriet, when we apprehend that one day we may want the same pity ourselves. Our best passion, my dear, have their mixtures of self-love.
You have drawn a picture of human nature, Charlotte, that I don't like.
It is a likeness for all that.
She arose, snatched my hand, hurried to the door—Be with us Harriet, and cousin Reeves, and cousin Reeves, as soon as you can to-morrow. I want to talk to you, my dear (to me) of an hundred thousand things before dinner. Remember we dine early.
Away she fluttered—Happy Miss Grandison! What charming spirits she has!
Volume IV - lettera 13
Volume IV - Letter 14
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday, April 5.
Miss Jervois came to me this morning by six; impatient, as she said, to communicate good news to me. I was in my closet writing. I could not sleep.
I have seen my mother, said she; and we are good friends. Was she ever unkind to me, madam?
Dear creature! said I, and clasped her to my bosom, you are a sweet girl! Oblige me with the particulars.
Let me, Lucy, give you, as near as I can recollect the amiable young creature's words and actions on this occasion.
Sit down, my love, said I.—What! When I am talking of a reconciled mother! And to dear Miss Byron!—No, indeed.
She often held out one open hand, while the forefinger of the other, in full action, patted it; as at other times both were spread, with pretty wonder and delight: and thus she began:
Why, you must know, it was about six o'clock yesterday afternoon, that my mother and her husband, and Captain Salmonet, came. I was told of their visit, but two hours before: And when the coach stopped, and I at the window saw them alight, I thought I should have fainted away. I would have given half I was worth in the world to have been an hundred miles off.
Dr. Bartlett was there, and received them. My guardian was unexpectedly engaged in answering a Letter sent him by Lord W. for which a gentleman waited: But they had not been there a quarter of an hour, when he entered, and made apologies to them in his usual gracious manner. Never, the Doctor says, did any body look so respectful as the Major and the Captain; and they would have made apologies to my guardian for their last behaviour to him; but he would not let them. And my mother, the doctor says, from the very first behaved prettily.
The moment she asked for me, my guardian himself condescended to come up to me, and took my hand—Was not that very good of him?—My dear said he, as he led me down stairs (and spoke so kindly) don't tremble so: Am I not with you?—Your mother is very calm and composed: You must ask her blessing. I shall ease your tender heart of every pang. I shall hint to you what to do, and how to behave to the gentlemen as occasions arise.
He had no sooner said the words, but the drawing-room door gave way to his hand, and I was in the room with him.
Down on my knees dropped I—as I now do to you: But I could not speak. Thus I did [and she kissed my hand, and bowed her face upon it]. And my mother raised me—You must raise me, madam—Yes, just so—And she kissed me too, and wept on my neck; and called me pretty names; and encouraged me, and said she loved me, as she loved her own soul—And I was encouraged.
My guardian then, with the air and manner of a gracious prince, took my hand, and presented it first to the Major, then to the Captain: and they each kissed my hand, and spoke in my praise, I can't tell how many fine things.
Major, said my guardian, when he presented me to him, you must excuse the dear child's weakness of spirits: she wishes you all happiness on your nuptials: She has let me know, that she is very desirous to do you service for her mother's sake.
The Major swore by his Soul I was an angel!—Captain Salmonet said, that by his Salvation, I was a charming young Lady!
My Mother wept—O Sir! said she to my guardian: And dropping down in a chair by the window, not a word more could she speak.
I ran to her, and clasped my arms about her. She wept the more: I wiped her eyes with her own handkerchief: I told her, it went to my heart to see her cry: I begged she would spare me this grief.
She clasped her arms then about me, and kissed my cheek, and my forehead. O thought I, it is very good of you, my dear mother.
Then came my guardian to us, and he kindly took my mother's hand, and conducted her to the fire-side; and he led me, and placed me by her, at the tea-table; and he made the Major and the Captain sit down by him: So much graciousness in his countenance. O madam, I shall be an Idolater, I am afraid. And he said, Emily, my dear, you will make tea for us. My sister dined abroad, madam, to my Mother.—Yes, Sir, I will, said I: And I was as lively as a bird.
But before the servants came in, Let me tell you, madam, said he, what Miss Jervois has proposed to me.—They were in silent expectation.
She has desired that you, Major, will accept from her, for your mutual ease, of an additional 100l. a year; which I shall order to be paid you quarterly, during Mrs. O’Hara's life, not doubting but you will make her as happy as it is in your power to make her.
My mother bowed, coloured with gratitude, and looked obliged.
And she begs of you, madam, turning to my mother, that you will accept as from the Major, another 100l. a year, for pin-money, which he, or which you, madam, will draw upon me for; also quarterly, if you choose not to trouble him to do it: For this 100l. a year must be appropriated to your sole and separate use, madam; and not be subject to your control, Major O’Hara.
Good God! Sir! said the Major!—What a wretch was I, the last time I was here!—There is no bearing of this!
He got up, and went to the window: And the Captain said, blessed Jesu! and something else, which I could not mind; for I was weeping like a baby.
What, Sir, said my mother, 400l. a year! Do you mean so?—I do, madam—And, Sir, to be so generously paid me my 100l. of it, as if I received it not from my child, but from my husband!—Good God! How you overpower me, Sir! What shame, what remorse, do you strike into my heart!
And my poor mother's tears ran down as fast as mine.
O madam, said the dear girl to me, clasping her arms about me, how your tender heart is touched!—It is well you were not there!
Dr. Bartlett came in to tea. My guardian would not permit Antony, who offered himself, to wait. Antony had been my own papa's servant, when my mother was not so good.
Nothing but blessings, nothing but looks and words of admiration and gratitude, passed all the tea-time. How their hearts rejoiced I warrant!—Is it not a charming thing, madam, to make people's hearts glad?—To be sure it is! How many hearts has my guardian rejoiced! You must bid him be cross to me, or I shall not know what to do with myself!—But then, if he was, I should only get by myself, and cry, and be angry with myself, and think he could not be to blame.
O my love, my Emily! said I, take care of your gratitude: That drew in your true Friend.
Well, but how can it be helped, madam? Can a right heart be ungrateful? Dr. Bartlett says, There is no such thing as true happiness in this life: And is it not better to be unhappy from good men and women, than from bad?—Dear madam, why you have often made me unhappy, because of your goodness to me; and because I knew, that I neither could deserve nor return it.
The dear prater went on—My guardian called me aside, when tea was over. My Emily, said he—[I do love he should call me his Emily!—But all the world is his Emily, I think] Let me see what you will do with these two notes; giving me two Bank-notes of 25l. each.—Present pin-money and cash may be wanted. We will suppose that your mother has been married a quarter of a year. Her pin-money and the additional annuity may commence from the 25th of December last. Let me, Emily, when they go away, see the graceful manner in which you will dispose of the notes: And from Mr. O’Hara's behaviour upon it, we shall observe whether he is a man with whom your mother, if it be not her own fault (now you have made it their interest to be kind to each other) may live well: But the motion be all your own.
How good this was! I could have kissed the hand that gave me the notes, if I thought it would not have looked too free.
I understand you, Sir, said I.
And when they went away, pouring out their very hearts in grateful joy, I addressed myself to Mr. O’Hara; Sir, said I, it is proper that the payment of the additional annuity should have a commencement. Let it be from Christmas last. Accept of the first payment from my own hands—And I gave him one 25l. note: And looking at my mother, with a look of duty, for fear he should mistake, and discredit himself in the eyes of the deepest discerner in the world, gave him the other.
He looked upon first one then upon the other note with surprise—And then bowing to the ground to me, and to my guardian, he stepped to my mother, and presented them both to her. You, madam, said he, must speak: I cannot as I ought: God send me with a whole heart out of this house! He hurried out, and when he was in the hall, wiped his eyes, and sobbed like a child, as one of the servants told my Anne.
My mother looked upon one note as her husband had done, and upon the other; and, lifting up her eyes, embraced me—And would have said something to my guardian, but he prevented her by saying—Emily will be always dutiful to you, madam, and respectful to Mr. O’Hara: May you be happy together!
And he led her out—Was ever such a condescension! He led her out to her husband, who, being a little recovered, was just about to give some money to the servant, who was retiring from the offer—Nobody, said my guardian, graciously smiling, pays my servants but myself, Mr. O’Hara. They are good people, and merit my favour.
And he went to the very door with my mother. I could not. I ran back, crying for joy, into the drawing-room; when they went out of it. I could not bear myself. How could I, you know, madam?—Captain Salmonet all the time wiped his eyes, shrugged his shoulders, lifted up his hands, and cried out upon Jesu; and once or twice he crossed himself: But all the time my guardian looked and acted, as if those actions and praises were nothing to be proud of.
When he came in to me, I arose, and threw myself at his feet; but could only say, Thank you, Sir, for your goodness to my mother. He raised me. He sat down by me: See, child (said he, and he took my hand: My heart was sensible of the favour, and throbbed with joy) what it is in the power of people of fortune to do. You have a great one. Now your mother is married, I have hopes of her. They will at least keep up appearances to each other, and to the world. They neither of them want sense. You have done an act of duty and benevolence both in one. The man who would grudge them this additional 200l. a year out of your fortune, to make your parent happy, shall not have my Emily—Shall he?
Your Emily, your happy Emily, Sir, has not, cannot have a heart that is worth notice, if it be not implicitly guided by you.—This I said, madam; and it is true.
And did he, not said I, clasp his Emily to his generous bosom, when you said so?
No, madam; that would have been too great an honour: But he called me, Good child! And said, you shall never be put to pay me an implicit regard: Your own reason (and he called me child again) shall always be the judge of my conduct to you, and direct your observances of my advice. Something like this he said; but in a better manner than I can say it.
He calls me oftener child, madam, than any-thing else when we are alone together; and is not quite so free, I think, at such times, in his behaviour to me (yet is vastly gracious I don't know how) as when we are in company—Why is that? I am sure, I equally respect him, at one time as at another—Do you think, madam, there is any-thing in the observation? Is there any reason for it?—I do love to study him, and to find out the meaning of his very looks as well as words. Sir Charles Grandison's heart is the book of heaven—May I not study it?
Study it, my love! while you have an opportunity. But he will soon leave us: He will soon leave Engalnd.
So I fear: And I will love and pity the poor Clementina, whose heart is so much wounded and oppressed. But my guardian shall be nobody's but yours. I have prayed night and day, the first thing and the last thing, ever since I have heard of Lady Clementina, that you, and nobody but you, may be Lady Grandison: And I will continue my prayers—But will you forgive me: I always conclude them with praying, that you will both consent to let the poor Emily live with you.
Sweet girl! The poor Emily, said she?—I embraced her, and we mingled tears, both our hearts full, each for the other, and each perhaps for herself.
She hurried away. I resumed my pen.—Run off what had passed, almost as swift as thought, I quit it, to prepare to attend my cousins to St. James's Square.
Volume IV - lettera 14
Volume IV - Letter 15
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday Night, April 5.
Miss Grandison, as I told you, took with her my Letter of yesterday. As soon as my cousin Reeves and I entered Sir Charles's house, the two sisters conducted us into the drawing-room adjoining to the dining-parlour, and congratulated me on the high compliment their brother had made me, tho' in preference to themselves, and his communicativeness and tender behaviour to me. Lord L. joined us, and he, having read the Letter, congratulated me also—On what, Lucy?—Why on the possibility, that if the unhappy Clementina should die; or if she should be buried for life in a nunnery; or if she should be otherwise disposed of; why then, that your Harriet may have room given her to hope for a civil husband in Sir Charles Grandison, and half a heart; Is not this the sum of these humbling congratulations?
Sir Charles, when we came, was in his Study with Mr. Lowther, the surgeon whom he had engaged to go abroad with him: But he just came out to welcome us; and then returned.—He had also with him two physicians eminent for their knowledge in disorders of the head, to whom he had before communicated the case of the unhappy Clementina; and who brought to him in writing their opinions of the manner in which she ought to be treated, according to the various symptoms of her disorder.
When he joined us, he told us this; and said very high things at the same time in praise of the English surgeons; and particularly of this gentleman: And added, that as nervous disorders were more frequent in England, than in any country in the world, he was willing to hope, that the English physicians were more skilful than those of any other country in the management of persons afflicted with such maladies: And as he was now invited over, he was determined to furnish himself with all the means he could think of, that were likely to be useful in restoring and healing friends so dear to him.
Miss Grandison told him, that we were all in some apprehensions, on his going to Italy, of that fierce and wrong-headed man the General. Miss Byron, said she, has told us, that Mrs. Beaumont advises not your going over.
The young Marquis della Porretta, said he, is hasty; but he is a gallant man, and loves his sister. His grief on the unhappy situation they are in demands allowance. It is natural in an heavy calamity to look out of ourselves for the occasion. I have not any apprehensions from him, or from any body else. The call upon me is a proper one. The issue must be left where it ought to be left. If my visit will give comfort to any one of the family, I shall be rewarded: If to more than one happy—And, whatever be the event, shall be easier in myself, than I could be, were I not to comply with the request of the Bishop, were he only to have made it.
Lord L. asked Sir Charles, whether he had fixed the day of his setting out?
I have, said he, within this half hour. Mr. Lowther has told me, that he should be ready by the beginning of next week; and on Saturday seven-night, I hope to be at Dover on my way.
We looked upon one another. Miss Grandison told me afterwards, that my colour went and came several times, and that she was afraid for me. My heart was indeed a little affected. I believe I must not think of taking leave of him when he sets out. Ah Lucy! Nine days hence!—Yet, in less than nine days after that, I shall be embraced by the tenderest relations that ever creature had to boast of.
Sir Charles taking his sister aside, I want, said he, to say a few words to you, Charlotte. They were about half an hour together; and then returning, I am encouraged to think, said he, that Charlotte will give her hand to Lord G. She is a woman of honour, and her heart must therefore go with it.—I have a request to make to her, before all you our common friends—The Earl of G., Lady Gertrude, Lord G. all join in one suit: It is, that I may be allowed to give my sister to Lord G. before I leave England.
I have told you, brother, that it is impossible, if you go away in nine or ten days time.
Sir Charles particularly requested my influence. I could have no doubt, I said, but Miss Grandison would oblige her brother.
She vehemently opposed so early a day.
In a most affectionate manner, yet with an air of seriousness, he urged his request. He said, that it was very proper for him to make some dispositions of his affairs before he went abroad. He should leave England with much more pleasure, if he saw his Charlotte the wife of a man so worthy as Lord G.: Lord G. said he, adores you: You intend to be his: Resolve to oblige your brother, who, tho' he cannot be happy himself, wishes to see you so.
O Sir Charles!—You ruin me by your solemnity, and by your goodness.
The subject is not a light one. I am greatly in earnest, Charlotte. I have many affairs on my hands. My heart is in this company; yet my engagements will permit me but few opportunities to enjoy it between this and Tuesday next. If you deny me now, I must acquiesce If you have more than punctilio to plead, say you have; and I will not urge you farther.
And so this is the last time of asking, Sir? A little archly—
Not the last time of my Lord G.'s—But of mine—But I will not allow you now to answer me lightly.—If you can name a day before Tuesday, you will greatly oblige me. I will leave you to consider of it. And he withdrew.
Every-one then urged her to oblige her brother. Lady L. very particularly. She told her, that he was entitled to her compliance; and that he had spoken to her on this subject in a still more earnest manner. She should hardly be able to excuse her, she said, if the serious hint he had given about settling his affairs before he went abroad, had not weight with her. You know, Charlotte, continued she, that he can have no motive but your good; and you have told me, that you intend to have Lord G. and that you esteem his father, his aunt, and every one of his family, whom you have seen; and they are highly pleased with you. Settlements are ready drawn: That my brother told you last night. Nothing is wanting but your day.
I wish he was in half the hurry to be married himself.
So he would be, I dare say, if marriage were as much in his power, as it is in yours.
What a duce, to be married to a man in a week's time, with whom I have quarrell'd every day for a fortnight past—Pride and petulance must go down by degrees, sister. A month, at least, is necessary, to bring my features to such a placidness with him, as to allow him to smile in my face.
Your brother has hinted, Charlotte, said I, that he loves you for your vivacity; and should still more, if you consulted time and occasion.
He has withdrawn, sister, said Lord L. with a resolution, if you deny him, to urge you no farther.
I hate his peremptoriness.
Has he not told you, Charlotte, said I, and that in a manner so serious, as to affect every body, that there is a kind of necessity for it?
I don't love this Clementina, Harriet: All this is owing to her.
Just then a rapping at the door signified visitors; and Emily ran in—Lord G. the Earl and Lady Gertrude, believe me!
Miss Grandison changed colour. A contrivance of my brother's!—Ah! Lord! Now shall I be beset!—I will be sullen, that I may not be saucy.
Sullen you can't be, Charlotte, said Lady L.: But saucy you can. Remember, however, my Brother's earnestness, and spare Lord G. before his father and aunt, or you will give me and every-body, pain.
How can I? Our last quarrel is not made up: But advise him not to be either impertinent or secure.
Immediately enter'd Sir Charles, introducing the Earl and Lady Gertrude. After the first compliments, Pray, Sir Charles, said Miss Grandison, drawing him aside, towards me, and whispering, tell me truly: Did you not know of this visit?
I invited them, Charlotte, whispered he. I meant not however to surprise you. If you comply, you will give me great pleasure: If you do not, I will not be dis-pleased with my sister.
What can I do? Either be less good to me, Sir, or less hurrying.
You have sacrificed enough to female punctilio, Charlotte, Lord G. has been a zealous courtier. You have no doubt of the ardor of his passion, nor of your own power. Leave the day to me. Let it be Tuesday next.
Good heaven! I can't bear you, after such a—And she gasped, as if for breath; and he turning from her to me, she went to Lady Gertrude, who rising, took her hand and withdrew with her into the next room.
They stayed out till they were told dinner was served: And when they returned, I thought I never saw Miss Grandison look so lovely. A charming flush had overspread her cheeks: a sweet consciousness in her eyes gave a female grace to her whole aspect, and softened, as I may say, the natural Majesty of her fine features.
Lord G. looked delighted, as if his heart were filled with happy presages. The Earl seemed no less pleased.
Miss Grandison was unusually thoughtful all dinnertime: She gave me great joy to see her so, in the hope, that when the lover becomes the husband, the over-lively mistress will be sunk in the obliging wife.—And yet, now and then, as the joy in my Lord's heart overflowed at his lips, I could observe that archness rising to her eye, that makes one both love and fear her.
After dinner the Earl of G. and Lady Gertrude, desired a conference with Sir Charles and Lady L. They were not long absent, when Sir Charles came in, and carried out Miss Grandison to them. Lord G's complexion varied often.
Sir Charles left them together, and joined us. We were standing; and he singled me out.—I hope, madam, said he, that Charlotte may be prevailed upon for Tuesday next: But I will not urge it farther.
I thought that he was framing himself to say something particular to me, when Lady L. came in, and desired him and me to step to her sister, who had retired, from the Earl and Lady Gertrude, by consent.
Ah, my Harriet! said she, pity me, my dear!—Debasement is the child of pride—Then turning to Sir Charles, I acknowledge myself overcome, said she, by your earnestness, as you are so soon to leave us; and by the importunities of the Earl of G. Lady Gertrude, and by Sister—Unprepared in mind, in clothes, I am resolved to oblige the best of brothers. Do you, Sir, dispose of me as you think fit.
My sister consents, Sir, said Lady L. for next Tuesday.
Cheerfully, I hope. If Charlotte balances whether, if she took more time, she should have Lord G. at all, let her take it. Lord L. in my absence, will be to her all that I wish to be, when she shall determine.
I balance not, Sir: But I thought to have had a month's time, at least, to look about me, and having treated Lord G. too flippantly, to give him by degrees some fairer prospects of happiness with me, than hitherto he has had.
Sir Charles embraced her. She was all his Sister, he said. Let the alteration now begin. Lord G. would rejoice in it, and consider all that had passed, as trials only of his love for her. The obliging wife would banish from his remembrance the petulant mistress. And now, allow me, my dear sister, to present you to the Earl and Lady Gertrude.
He led her in to them. Lady L. took my hand, and led me in also.—Charlotte, my Lord, yields to yours and Lady Gertrude's importunities. Next Tuesday will give the two families a near and tender relation to each other.
The Earl saluted her in a very affectionate manner: So did Lady Gertrude; who afterwards run out for her nephew; and, leading him in, presented him to Miss Grandison.
She had just time to whisper me, as he approach'd her; Ah, Harriet! now comes the worst part of the show.—He kneeled on one knee, kissed her hand; but was too much overjoyed to speak; for Lady Gertrude had told him, as she led him in, that Tuesday was to be his happy day.
It is impossible, Lucy, but Sir Charles Grandison must carry every point he sets his heart upon. When he shall appear before the family of Porretta in Italy, who will be able to withstand him?—Is not his consequence doubled, more than doubled, since he was with them? The man whose absence they requested, they now invite to come among them. They have tried every experiment to restore their Clementina: He has a noble estate now in possession. The fame of his goodness is gone out to distant countries. O my dear! All opposition must fly before him. And if it be the will of heaven to restore Clementina, all her friends must concur in giving her to him upon the terms he has proposed; and from which having himself proposed them, Sir Charles Grandison cannot recede.
His heart, it is evident, is at Bologna. Well, and so it ought to be. And yet I could not forbear being sensibly touched by the following words, which I overheard him say to Lord L. in answer to something my Lord said to him:
'I am impatient to be abroad. Had I not waited for Mr. Lowther, the last Letters I received from Italy should have been answered in person.'
But as honour, compassion, love, friendship (still nobler than love!) have demands upon him, let him obey the call. He has set me high in his esteem. Let me be worthy of his friendship. Pangs I shall occasionally feel; but who that values one person above the rest of the world, does not?
Sir Charles, as we sat at tea, mentioned his cousin Grandison to Lord L.: It is strange, my Lord, said he, that we hear nothing of our cousin Everard, since he was seen at White's. But whenever he emerges, Charlotte, if I am absent, receive him without reproaches: Yet I should be glad that he could have rejoiced with us. Must I leave England, and not see him?
It has been, it seems, the way of this unhappy man, to shut himself up with some woman in private lodgings, for fear his cousin should find him out; and in two or three months, when he has been tired of his wicked companion, emerge, as Sir Charles called it, to notice, and then seek for his cousin's favour and company, and live for as many more months in a state of contrition. And Sir Charles, in his great charity, believes, that till some new temptation arises, he is in earnest in his penitence; and hopes, that in time he will see his errors.
Oh, Lucy! What a poor creeping, mean wretch is a libertine, when one looks down upon him, and up to such a glorious creature as Sir Charles Grandison!
Sir Charles was led to talk of his engagement for to-morrow, on the triple marriage in the Danby family. We all gave him joy of the happy success that had rewarded his beneficent spirit, with regard to that family. He gave us the characters of the three couples greatly to their advantage, and praised the families on both sides, which were to be so closely united on the morrow; not forgetting to mention kindly honest Mr. Sylvester the attorney.
He told us, that he should set out on Friday early for Windsor, in order to attend Lord W. in his first visit to Mansfield-house. You, Lady L. will have the trouble given you, said he, of procuring to be new-set the jewels of the late Lady W. for a present to the future bride. My Lord showed them to me (among a great number of other valuable trinkets of his late wife's) in my last return from the Hall. They are rich, and will do credit to his quality. You, my Lord L. you, my sisters, will be charmed with your new aunt, and her whole family. I have joy on the happiness in prospect that will gild the latter days of my mother's brother; and at the same time be a means of freeing from oppression an ancient and worthy family.
Our eyes all round offered, as I may say, to keep in countenance each others sensibility; for they all glistened. There now, thought I, sits this princely man, rejoicing every one who sees him, and hears him speak: But where will he be nine days hence? And whose this day-twelve month?
He talked with particular pleasure of the expected arrival of his Beauchamp. He pleased himself, that he should leave behind him a man who would delight every-body, and supply to his friends his absence.—What a character did he give, and Dr. Bartlett confirm, of that amiable friend of his!
How did the Earl, and Lady Gertrude, dwell upon all he said! They prided themselves on the relation they were likely so soon to stand in to so valuable a man.
In your last Letter, you tell me, Lucy, that Mr. Greville has the confidence to throw out menaces against this excellent man—Sorry wretch!—How my heart rises against him!—He—But no more of such an earth-born creature.
Volume IV - lettera 15
Volume IV - Letter 16
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Thursday Morning, April 6.
Miss Grandison, accompanied by Miss Jervois, has just left us. Lady L. has undertaken, she says, to set all hands at work, to have things in tolerable order, early as the day is, for Tuesday next. Miss Grandison (would you believe it?) owns that she wants spirits to order any-thing. What must be the solemnity of that circumstance, when near, that shall make Charlotte Grandison want spirits?
She withdrew with me to my apartment. She threw herself into a chair: 'Tis a folly to deny it, Harriet, but I am very low, and very silly: I don't like next Tuesday by any means.
Is your objection only to the day, my dear?
I do not like the man.
Is there any man whom you like better?
I can't say that neither. But this brother of mine makes me think contemptibly of all other men. I would compound for a man but half so good; tender, kind, humane, polite, and even cheerful in affliction!—O Harriet! where is there such another man?
No-where.—But you don't by marriage lose, on the contrary, you farther engage and secure, the affection of this brother. You will have a good-natured, worthy man for your husband; a man who loves you, and you will have your brother besides.
Do you think I can be happy with Lord G.?
I am sure you may, if it be not your own fault.
That's the thing: I may perhaps bear with the man; but I cannot honour him.
Then don't vow to honour him. Don't meet him at the altar.
Yet I must. But I believe I think too much: And consideration is no friend to wedlock.—Would to heaven that the same hour that my hand and Lord G.'s were joined, yours and my brother's were also united!
Ah, Miss Grandison! If you love me, try to wean me; and not to encourage hopes of what never, never can be.
Dear creature! You will be greater than Clementina, and that is greater than the greatest, if you can conquer a passion, that over-turned her reason.
Do not, my Charlotte, make comparisons in which the conscience of your Harriet tells her she must be a sufferer. There is no occasion for me to despise myself, in order to hold myself inferior to Clementina.
Well, you are a noble creature!—But, the approaching Tuesday—I cannot bear to think of it.
And dear Harriet too!—But the officiousness, the assiduities, of this trifling man are disgustful to me.
You don't hate him?—
Hate him—True—I don't hate him—But I have been so much accustomed to treat him like a fool, that I can't help thinking him one. He should not have been so tame to such a spirit as mine. He should have been angry when I played upon him. I have got a knack of it, and shall never leave it off, that's certain.
Then I hope he will be angry with you. I hope that he will resent your ill treatment of him.
Too late, too late to begin, Harriet. I won't take it of him now. He has never let me see that his face can become two sorts of features. The poor man can look sorrowful; that I know full well; But I shall always laugh when he attempts to look angry.
You know better, Charlotte. You may give him so much cause for anger, that you may make it habitual to him, and then would be glad to see him pleased. Men have an hundred ways that women have not to divert themselves abroad, when they cannot be happy at home. This I have heard observed by—
By your grandmother, Harriet. Good old Lady! In her reign it might be so; but you will find, that women now have as many ways to divert themselves abroad as the men. Have you not observed this yourself in one of your Letters to Lucy? Ah! my dear! We can every hour of the twenty-four be up with our monarchs, if they are undutiful.
But Charlotte Grandison will not, cannot—
Why that's true, my dear—But I shall not then be a Grandison. Yet the man will have some security from my brother's goodness. He is not only good himself, but he makes every one related to him, either from fear or shame, good likewise. But I think that when one week or fortnight is happily over, and my spirits are got up again from the depression into which this abominable hurry puts them, I could fall upon some inventions that would make every-one laugh, except the person who might take it into his head that he may be a sufferer by them: And who can laugh, and be angry, in the same moment?
You should not marry, Charlotte, till this wicked vein of humour and raillery is stopped.
I hope it will hold me till fifty.
Don't say so, Charlotte—Say rather that you hope it will hold you so long only as it may be thought innocent or inoffensive, by the man whom it will be your duty to oblige, and so long as it will bring no discredit to yourself.
Your servant, Goody Gravity!—But what must be, must. The man is bound to see it. It will be all his own seeking. He will sin with his eyes open. I think he has seen enough of me to take warning. All that I am concerned about is for the next week or fortnight. He will be king all that time—Yet perhaps not quite all neither. And I shall be his sovereign ever after, or I am mistaken. What a duce shall a woman marry a man of talents not superior to her own, and forget to reward herself for her condescension?—But, high-ho!—There's a sigh, Harriet. Were I at home, I would either sing you a song, or play you a tune, in order to raise my own heart.
She besought me then with great earnestness, to give her my company till the day arrived, and on the day. You see, said she, that my brother has engagements till Monday. Dear creature, support, comfort me—Don't you see my heart beat thro' my stays?—If you love me, come to me to-morrow to breakfast; and leave me not for the whole time—Are you not my sister, and the friend of my heart? I will give you a month for it, upon demand. Come, let us go down. I will ask the consent of both your cousins.
She did: And they, with their usual goodness to me, cheerfully complied.
Sir Charles set out this morning to attend the triple marriages; dressed charmingly, his sister says. I have made Miss Grandison promise to give me an account of such particulars, as by the help of Saunders, and Sir Charles's own relation, she can pick up. All we single girls, I believe, are pretty attentive to such subjects as these; as what one day may be our own concern.
Volume IV - lettera 16
Volume IV - Letter 17
MISS GRANDISON TO MISS BYRON.
Unreasonable, wicked, cruel, Byron! To expect a poor creature, so near her execution, to write an account of other peoples behaviour in the same tremendous circumstances! The matrimonial noose has hung over my head for some time past; and now it is actually fitted to my devoted neck.—Almost chocked, my dear!—This moment done hearing read, the firsts, seconds, thirds, fourths, to near a dozen of them—Lord be merciful to us!—And the villainous lawyer rearing up to me his spectacled-nose, as if to see how I bore it! Lord G. insulting me, as I thought, by his odious leers: Lady Gertrude simpering; little Emily ready to bless herself—How will the dear Harriet bear these abominable recitatives?—But I am now up stairs from them all, in order to recover my breath, and obey my Byron.
Well, but what am I now to say about the Danby's? Richard has made his report; Sir Charles has told us some things: Yet I will only give you heads: Make out the rest.
In the first place, my Brother went to Mrs. Harrington's (Miss Danby's aunt): She did every-thing but worship him. She had with her two young ladies, relations of her late husband, dainty damsels of the city, who had procured themselves to be invited, that they might see the man whom they called, A wonder of generosity and goodness. Richard heard one of them say to the other, Ah, sister! This is a king of a man! What pity there are not many such! But, Harriet, if there were an hundred of them, we would not let one of them go into the city for a wife; would we, my dear?
Sir Charles praised Miss Danby. She was full of gratitude; and of humility, I suppose. Meek, modest, and humble, are qualities of which men are mighty fond in women. But matrimony, and a sense of obligation, are equally great humblers even of spirits prouder than that of Miss Danby; as your poor Charlotte can testify.
The young gentlemen, with the rest, were to meet Sir Charles, the Bride, and these Ladies, at St. Helen's, I think the church is called.
As if wedlock were an honour, the Danby girl, in respect to Sir Charles, was to be first yoked. He gave her away to the son Galliard. The father Galliard gave his daughter to Edward Danby: But first Mr. Hervey gave his niece to the elder.
One of the brides, I forget which, fainted away; another half-fainted—Sav'd by timely salts: The third, poor soul, wept heartily—as I suppose I shall do, on Tuesday.
Never surely was there such a matrimony-promoter, as my brother. God give me soon my revenge upon him, in the same way!
The procession afterwards was triumphant—Six coaches, four silly souls in each; and to Mr. Poussin's at Enfield they all drove. There they found another large company. My brother was all cheerfulness; and both men and women seemed to contend for his notice: But they were much disappointed at finding he meant to leave them early in the evening.
One married Lady, the wife of Sir—Somebody (I am very bad at remembering the names of city knights) was resolved, she said, since they could not have Sir Charles to open the Ball, to have one dance before dinner with the handsomest man in England. The music was accordingly called in; and he made no scruple to oblige the company on a day so happy.
Do you know, Harriet, that Sir Charles is supposed to be one of the finest dancers in England? Remember, my dear, that on Tuesday—(Lord help me! I shall be then stupid, and remember nothing) you take him out yourself: And then you will judge for yourself of his excellence in this science—May we not call dancing a science? If we judge by the few who perform gracefully in it, I am sure we may; and a difficult one too.
Sir Charles, it seems, so much delighted every-body, that they would not be denied his dancing with the bride that was so lately Galliard, who was known to be a fine dancer. And when he had so done, he took out the other two brides in turn.
O!—And remember, Harriet, that you get somebody to call upon him to sing—You shall play—I believe I shall forget in that only agreeable moment of the day (for you have a sweet finger, my love) that I am the principal fool in the play of the evening.
O Harriet I—how can I, in the circumstances I am in, write any more about these soft souls, and silly? Come to me, my love, by day dawn, and leave me not till—I don't know when. Come, and take my part, my dear: I shall hate this man: He does nothing but hop, skip, and dance about me, grin and make mouths: and every-body upholds him in it. Must this (I hope not!) be the last time that I write myself to you
Volume IV - lettera 17
Volume IV - Letter 18
MISS BYRON TO MISS SELBY
St. James's-Square, Friday Morn. April 7.
Sir Charles Grandison set out early this morning for Lord W.'s, in his way to Lady Mansfield's, I am here with this whimsical Charlotte.
Lady L., Miss Jervois, myself, and every female of the family, or who do business for both sisters out of it, are busy in some way or other, preparatory to the approaching Tuesday.
Miss Grandison is the only idle person. I tell her, she is affectedly so.
The Earl has presented her, in his son's name, with some very rich trinkets. Very valuable jewels are also bespoke by Lord G. who takes Lady L.'s advice in every-thing; as one well read in the fashions. New equipages are bespoke; and gay ones they will be.
Miss Grandison confounded me this morning by an instance of her generosity. She was extremely urgent with me to accept, as her third sister, of her share of her mother's jewels. You may believe, that I absolutely refused such a present. I was angry with her; and told her, she had but one way of making up with me; and that was, that since she would be so completely set out from her Lord, she would unite the two halves, by presenting hers to Lady L. who had refused jewels from her Lord on her marriage; and who then would make an appearance, occasionally, as brilliant as her own.
She was pleased with the hint; and has actually given them (unknown to any-body but me) to her jeweller; who is to dispose them in such figures, as shall answer those she herself is to have, which Lady L. has not. And by this contrivance, which will make them in a manner useless to herself, she thinks she shall oblige her sister, however reluctant, to accept of them.
Lady Gertrude is also preparing some fine presents for her niece elect: But neither the delighted approbation of the family she is entering into, nor the satisfaction expressed by her own friends, give the perverse Charlotte any visible joy, nor procure for Lord G. the distinction which she ought to think of beginning to pay him. But, for his part, never was man so happy. He would, however, perhaps, fare better from her, if he could be more moderate in the outward expression of his joy; which she has taken it into her head to call an insult upon her.
She does not, however, give the scope she did before the day was fix'd, to her playful captiousness. She is not quite so arch as she was. Thoughtfulness, and a seeming carelessness of what we are all about for her, appear in her countenance. She saunters about, and affects to be diverted by her harpsichord only. What a whimsical thing is Charlotte Grandison? But still she keeps Lord G. at distance. I told her an hour ago, that she knows not how to condescend to him with that grace which is so natural to her in her whole behaviour to every body else.
I have been talking to Dr. Bartlett, about Sir Charles's journey to Italy. Nobody knows, he says, what a bleeding heart is cover'd by a countenance so benign, and cheerful. Sir Charles Grandison, said he, has a prudence beyond that of most young men; but he has great sensibilities.
I take it for granted, Sir, that he will for the future be more an Italian than Englishman.
Impossible, madam! A prudent youth, by travelling, reaps this advantage—From what he sees of other countries, he learns to prefer his own. An imprudent one the contrary. Sir Charles's country is endeared to him by his long absence from it. Italy in particular is called, The Garden of Europe; but it is rather to be valued for what it was, and might he, than what it is. I need not tell a Lady who has read and conversed as you have done, to what that incomparable difference is owing. Sir Charles Grandison is greatly sensible of it. He loves his country, with the judgment of a wise man; and wants not the partiality of a patriot.
But, doctor, he has offered, you know, to reside—There I stopped.
True, madam—And he will not recede from his offers, if they are claimed. But this uncertainty it is that disturbs him.
I pity my patron. I have often told you he is not happy. What has indiscretion to expect, when discretion has so much to suffer! His only consolation is, that he has nothing to reproach himself with. Inevitable evils he bears as a man should. He makes no ostentation of his piety: But, madam, Sir Charles Grandison is a CHRISTIAN.
You need not, Sir, say more to me to exalt him: And, let me add, that I have no small pleasure in knowing that Clementina is a Lady of strict piety; tho' a Roman Catholic.
And let me assure you, madam, that Sir Charles's regard for Miss Byron (his more than regard for her, why should I not say? since every-body sees it) is founded upon her piety, and upon the amiable qualities of her mind. Beauty, madam, is an accidental and transient good. No man better knows how to distinguish between admiration and love, than my patron. His virtue is virtue upon full proof, and against sensibilities, that it is heroic to overcome. Lady Olivia knows this: And here I must acknowledge myself a debtor to you for three articles out of your ten. I hope soon to discharge the obligation.
Your own time, doctor: But I must say, that whenever you give me Lady Olivia's story, I shall be pained, if I find, that a Clementina is considered by a beauty of an unhappier turn, as her rival in the love of Sir Charles Grandison.
Lady Olivia, madam, admires him for his virtue; but she cannot, as he has made it his study to do, divide admiration from love. What offers has she not refused?—But she declares, that she had rather be the friend of Sir Charles Grandison, than the wife of the greatest prince on earth.
This struck me: Have not I said something like it? But surely with innocence of heart. But here the doctor suggests, that Olivia has put his virtue to the proof: Yet I hope not.
The FRIEND, Dr. Bartlett!—I hope that no woman who is not quite given up to dishonour, will pollute the sacred word, by affixing ideas to it, that cannot be connected with it. A Friend is one of the highest characters that one human creature can shine in to another. There may be Love, that tho' it has no view but to honour, yet even in wedlock, ripens not into friendship. How poor are all such attachments! How much beneath the exalted notion I have of that noblest, that most delicate union of souls! You wonder at me, Dr. Bartlett. Let me repeat to you, Sir (I have it by heart) Sir Charles Grandisons's tender of friendship to the poor Harriet Byron, which has given me such exalted ideas of this disinterested passion; but you must not take notice that I have. I repeated those words, beginning, "My heart demands alliance with hers.—and ending with these—So long as it shall be consistent with her other attachments (Note: See Letter 7 of this volume: From the first, I called Miss Byron my sister; but she is more to me than the dearest sister; and there is a more tender friendship that I aspire to hold with her, whatever may be the accidents, on either side, to bar a farther wish: And this I must hope, that she will not deny me, so long as it shall be consistent with her other attachments.)."
The doctor was silent for a few moments: At last, What a delicacy is there in the mind of this excellent man! Yet how consistent with the exactest truth! The friendship he offers you, madam, is indeed friendship. What you have repeated can want no explanation: Yet it is expressive of his uncertain situation. It is—
He stopped of a sudden.
Pray, doctor, proceed: I love to hear you talk.
My good young lady!—I may say too much. Sir Charles in these nice points must be left to himself. It is impossible for any-body to express his thoughts as he can express them. But let me say, that he justly, as well as greatly, admires Miss Byron.
My heart rose against myself. Bold Harriet, thought I, how darest thou thus urge a good man to say more than he has a mind to say of the secrets of a friend, which are committed to his keeping? Content thyself with the hopes that the worthiest man in the world would wish to call thee his, were it not for an invincible obstacle. And noble, thrice noble Clementina, be thine the preference even in the heart of Harriet Byron, because justice gives it to thee; for, Harriet, hast thou not been taught to prefer right and justice to every other consideration? And, wouldst thou abhor the thought of a common theft, yet steal an heart that is the property, and that by the dearest purchase, of another?
Volume IV - lettera 18
Volume IV - Letter 19
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
We have had a great debate about the place in which the nuptial ceremony is to be performed. Charlotte, the perverse Charlotte, insisted upon not going to church. Lord G. dared not to give his opinion; tho' his father and Lady Gertrude, as well as every other person, were against her.
Lord L. said, that if fine ladies thought so slightly of the office, as that it might be performed anywhere, it would be no wonder, if fine gentlemen thought still more slightly of the obligation it laid them under.
Being appealed to, I said, that I thought of marriage as one of the most solemn acts of a woman's life.
And if of a woman's, of a man's, surely, interrupted Lady L. If your whimsey, Charlotte, added she, arises from modesty, you reflect upon your sister; and, what is worse, upon your mother.
Charlotte put up her pretty lip, and was unconvinced.
Lady Gertrude laid an heavy hand upon the affectation; yet admires her niece elect. She distinguished between chamber-vows and church-vows. She mentioned the word decency. She spoke plainer, on Charlotte's unfeeling perverseness. If a bride meant a compliment by it to the bridegroom [O dear! O dear! said Mrs. Eleanor Grandison, and looked as if she thought she blushed] that was another thing; but then let her declare as much; and that she was in an hurry to oblige him.
Charlotte attempted to kill her by a look—She gave a worse to Lord G.—And why, whispered she to him, as he sat next her, must thou show all thy teeth, man?—As Lady Gertrude meant to shame her, I thought I could as soon forgive that Lady, as her who was the occasion of the freedom of speech.
But still she was perverse: She would not be married at all, she said, if she were not comply'd with.
I whispered her, as I sat on the other side of her, I wish, Charlotte, the knot were tied: Till then, you will not do even right things, but in a wrong manner.
Dr. Bartlett was not present! He was making a kind visit to my cousin Reeves's. When he came in, the debate was referred to him. He entered into it with her, with so much modesty, good sense, propriety, and steadiness, that at last the perverse creature gave way: But hardly would neither, had he not assured her, that her brother would be entirely against her; and that he himself must be excused performing the sacred office, but in a sacred place. She has set her heart on the doctor's marrying her.
The Earl of G. and Lady Gertrude, as also Lord and Lady L. went away, not dissatisfied with Charlotte's compliance: She is the most ungraciously graceful young woman I ever knew in her compliances: But Lord G. was to pay for all: She and I had got together in the Study: In bolted Lord G. perhaps with too little ceremony. She coloured—Hey-day, Sir! Who expected you? His countenance immediately fell. He withdrew precipitately. Fie, Charlotte! said I, recollect yourself—and rising, stepped to the door, My Lord—calling after him.
He came back; but in a little ferment—I hoped. I hoped, madam, as you were not in your own apartment, that I might, that I might have been—
Where ever Ladies are by themselves, it is a Lady's apartment, my Lord, said she, with an haughtiness that sat better on her features, than they would upon almost any other woman's.
He looked, as if he knew not whether he should stay or go. Sit down, my Lord, said I; we are not particularly engaged. He came nearer, his hat under his arm, bowing to her, who sat as stately as a princess on her throne: But yet looked disobliged. You gave yourself pretty airs, my Lord—don't you?
Pretty airs, madam!—Pretty airs!—By my Soul, I think, madam—And with such a glow in your face, madam—Taking his laced hat from under his arm, and with an earnest motion swinging it backwards and forwards, as unknowing what he did.—
What, Sir, am I to be buffeted, Sir?—
He put his hat under his arm again—Buffeted, madam!—Would to heaven—
What has heaven to do with your odd ways, Lord G.?
I beg pardon for intruding, madam—But I thought—
That you had a privilege, Sir—But marriage itself, Sir, shall not give you a privilege to break into my retirements. You thought, Sir—You could not think—So much the worse if you did—
If I have really offended—I will be more circumspect for the future—I beg pardon, madam—Miss Byron I hope will forgive me too.
He was going, in great discomposure, and with an air of angry humility.
Charlotte, whispered I—Don't be silly—
Come, come, now you have broke in upon us, you may stay—But another time when you know me to be retired with a friend so dear to me, let it enter into your head, that no third person, unsent for, can be welcome.
Poor man!—How he loves her!—His countenance changed at once to the humble placid: He looked as if he had rather be in fault than she.
Oh! how little did she make him look!
But he has often, as well as in this instance, let her see her power over him. I am afraid she will use it. I now see it is and will be his misfortune that she can vex him without being vexed herself: And what may he expect, who can be treated with feigned displeasure, which, while it seems to be in earnest to him, will be a jest to his wife?
I was very angry with her, when we were alone: and told her, that she would be an enemy, I was afraid, of her own happiness. But she only laughed at me: Happiness, my dear! said she: That only is happiness which we think so. If I can be as happy in my way, as you can be in yours, shall I not pursue it? Your happiness, child, is in the still life. I love not a dead calm: Now a tempest, now a refreshing breeze, I shall know how to enjoy the difference—My brother will not be here to turn jest into earnest; as might perhaps be the effect of his mediation—But, high-ho, Harriet! that the first week were over, and I had got into my throne!
She ended with an Italian air, contrasted with another High-ho; and left me for a few moments.
Poor Lord G.! said I looking after her.
She returned soon. Poor Lord G.! repeated she: Those were the piteous words you threw after me—But if I should provoke him, do you think he would not give me a cuff, or so?—You know he can't return joke for joke; and he must revenge himself some way—If that should be the case, Poor Charlotte, I hope you would say—
Not if you deserved it.
Deserve a cuff, Harriet!—Well, but I am afraid I shall.
Remember next Tuesday, Charlotte!—You must vow obedience—Will you break your vow?—This is not a jesting matter.
True, Harriet. And that it is not, was perhaps one of the reasons that made me disinclined to go to so solemn a place as the church with Lord G.—Don't you think it one with those who insist upon being married in their own chamber?
I believe great people, said I, think they must not do right things in the common way: That seems to me to be one of their fantastic reasons: But the vow is the vow, Charlotte: God is every-where.
Now you are so serious, Harriet, it is time to have done with the subject.
I have no sleep in my eyes; and must go on. What keeps me more wakeful is, my real concern for this naughty Miss Grandison, and my pity for Lord G.; for the instance I have given you of her petulance is nothing to what I have seen: But I thought, so near the day, she would have changed her behaviour to him. Surely, the situation her brother is in, without any fault of his own, might convince her, that she need not go out of her path to pick up subjects for unhappiness.
Such a kittenish disposition in her, I called it; for it is not so much the love of power that predominates in her mind, as the love of playfulness: And when the fit is upon her, she regards not whether it is a China cup, or a cork, that she pats and tosses about: But her sport will certainly be the death of Lord G's happiness. Pity that Sir Charles, who only has power over her, is obliged to go abroad so soon! But she has principles: Lady Grandison's daughter, Sir Charles Grandison's sister, must have principles. The solemnity of the occasion; the office; the church; the altar;—must strike her: The vow—Will she not regard the vow she makes in circumstances so awful? Could but my Lord G. assume dignity, and mingle raillery with it, and be able to laugh with her, and sometimes at her, she would not make him her sport: She would find somebody else: A butt she must have to shoot at: But I am afraid he will be too sensible of her smartness: And she will have her jest, let who will suffer by it.
Some of the contents of your last are very agreeable to me, Lucy. I will begin in earnest to think of leaving London. Don't let me look silly in your eyes, my dear, when I come. It was not so very presumptuous in me, was it, to hope?—When all his relations—When he himself—Yet what room for hope did he, could he, give me? He was honest; and I cheated myself: But then all you, my dearest friends, encouraged the cheat: Nay, pointed my wishes, and my hopes, by yours, before I had dared (or shall I say, condescended?) to own them to myself.
You may let that Greville know, if your please, that there is no room for his If's, nor, of consequence, any for his menaces. You may own, that I shall soon be in Northamptonshire. This may prevent his and Fenwick's threatened journey to town.
But, Lucy, tho' my heart has been ever dutifully, as I may say, open to the venerable domestic circle; tho' it would not have been an honest heart, could it, circumstanced as I was, have concealed itself from Lady D.; and must have been an impenetrable one indeed, if it could have been disguised to the two sisters here—yet, I beseech you, my dear, almost on my knees I beseech you, let not the audacious, the insulting Greville, have ground given him to suspect a weakness in your Harriet, which indelicate minds know not how to judge of delicately. For sex-sake, for example-sake, Lucy, let it not be known to any but the partial, friendly few, that our grandmamma Shirley's child, and aunt Selby's niece, has been a volunteer in her affections. How many still more forward girls would plead Mrs. Shirley's approbation of the hasty affection, without considering the circumstances, and the object! So the next girl that run away to a dancing-master, or an ensign, would reckon herself one of Harriet's school.
Poor Mr. Orme! I am sorry he is not well. It is cruel in you, Lucy, at this time, to say (so undoubtingly) that his illness is owing to his love of me. You knew that such a suggestion would pain me. Heaven restore Mr. Orme!
But I am vex'd, as it cannot be to purpose, that Sir Charles Grandison and I have been named together, and talked of, in your neighbourhood!—He will be gone abroad. I shall return to Northamptonshire: And shall look so silly! So like a refused girl!
'Every-body gives me to him, you say'—So much the worse. I wonder what business this every-body has to trouble itself about me.
One consolation, however, I shall have in my return; and that is, in my Nancy's recover'd health; which was so precarious when I set out for London.
But I shall have nothing to entertain you with when I am with you: Sir Charles Grandison, Lord and Lady L. Lady G. (as now in three or four days she will be) my dear Miss Jervois, Dr. Bartlett, will be all my subject. And have I not exhausted that by pen and ink? O no! The doctor promises to correspond with me; and he makes no doubt but Sir Charles will correspond with him, as usual.
What can the unusually tender friendship be called which he professed for me, and, as I may say, claimed in return from me? I know that he has no notion of the Love called Platonic. Nor have I: I think it, in general, a dangerous allowance; and, with regard to our sex, a very unequal one; since while the man has nothing to fear, the woman has every-thing, from the privileges that may be claimed, in an acknowledged confidence, especially in presence. Miss Grandison thus interprets what he said, and strengthens her opinion by some of Dr. Bartlett's late intimations, that he really loves me; but not being at liberty to avow his love, he knew not what to say; and so went as near to a declaration as was possible to do in his circumstances.
But might I not expect, from such a profession of friendship in Sir Charles, an offer of correspondence in absence? And if he made the offer, ought I to decline it? Would it not indicate too much on my side, were I to do so?—And does it not on his, if he make not the offer? He corresponds with Mrs. Beaumont: Nobody thinks that any-thing can be meant by that correspondence on either side; because Mrs. Beaumount must be at least forty; Sir Charles but six or seven and twenty: But if he makes not the request to Harriet, who is but little more than twenty; what, after such professions of a friendship so tender, will be inferred from his forbearance?
But I shall puzzle myself, and you too, Lucy, if I go on with this sort of reasoning; because I shall not know how to put all I mean into words. Have I not already puzzled you? I think my expression is weak and perplexed—But this offered and accepted friendship between two persons not indelicate, must be perplexing; since he is the only young man in the world, from whom a woman has no dishonour to fear—Ah, Lucy!—It would be vanity in me, would it not? to suppose that he had more to fear from Harriet, than she has from him?—As the virtue of either, I hope, is not questionable? But the event of his Italian visit will explain and reconcile ever-thing.
I will encourage a drowsy fit that seems to be stealing upon me. If I have not written with the perspicuity I always aim at, allow, Lucy, for the time of night; for spirits not high; and for the subject, that having its delicacies, as well as uncertainties, I am not able to write clearly upon it.
Volume IV - lettera 19
Volume IV - Letter 20
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Saturday Night, April 9.
Sir Charles is already returned: He arrived at Windsor on Friday morning; but found that Lord W. had set out the afternoon of the day before, for the house of his friend Sir Joseph Lawrance, which is but fifteen miles from Mansfield-house.
Upon this intelligence, Sir Charles, wanting to return to town as soon as he could, followed him to the Knight's: And having time enough himself to reach Mansfield-house that night, he, by his uncle's consent, pursued his journey thither; to the great joy of the family; who wished for his personal introduction of my Lord to Miss Mansfield.
My Lord arrived by breakfast-time, unfatigued, and in high spirits: Stayed at Mansfield-house all day; and promised so to manage, as to be in town to-morrow, in order to be present at his niece's nuptials on Tuesday.
As for Sir Charles, he made the Mansfield family happy in his company the whole Friday evening; enquiring into their affairs relating to the oppression they lay under; pointing out measures for redress; encouraging Miss Mansfield; and informing the brothers, that the Lawyers he had consulted on their deeds, told him, that a new trial might be hoped for; the result of which, probably, would be a means to do them justice, so powerfully protected and assisted as they would now be; for new lights had broke in upon them, and they wanted but to recover a deed, which they understood was in the hands of two gentlemen, named Hartley, who were but lately returned from the Indies. Thus prepared, the Mansfields also were in high spirits, the next morning; and looked, Sir Charles said, on each other, when they met as if they wanted to tell each other their agreeable dreams.
Sir Charles, in his way to Sir Joseph Lawrance's, had looked in upon Sir Harry Beauchamp, and his Lady. He found Sir Harry in high spirits, expecting the arrival of his son; who was actually landed from Calais, having met there his Father's letter, allowing him to return to England, and wishing in his own, and in Lady Beauchamp's name, his speedy arrival.
Sir Charles's impatience to see his friend, permitted him only to breakfast with my Lord and the Mansfields; and to know the opinion each party formed of the other, on this first interview, and then he set out to Sir Harry Beauchamp's. What an activity!—Heaven reward him with the grant of his own wishes, whatever they be, and make him the happiest of men!
My Lord is greatly taken with the Lady, and her whole family, Well he may, Sir Charles says. He blessed him, and called himself blessed in his sister's son, for his recommendation of each to the other. The Lady thinks better of him, as her mother owned to Sir Charles, than she thought she should, from report.
I begin to think, Lucy, that those who set out for happiness are most likely to find it, when they live single till the age of fancy is over. Those who marry while it lasts, are often disappointed of that which they propose so largely to themselves: While those who wed for convenience, and deal with tolerable honesty by each other, are at a greater certainty. Tolerable, I repeat, since, it seems, we are not to expect that both parties will turn the best side of the old garment outward. Hence arises consolation to old maidens, and cautions against precipitation—Expatiate, my dear, on this fruitful subject: I would, were I at leisure.
Sir Charles says, that he doubts not, but Lord W. will be as happy a man as he wishes to be, in less than a month.
The deuce is in this brother of mine, whispered Miss Grandison, to me, for huddling up of marriages! He don't consider, that there may be two chances for one, that his honest folks may, in half a year's time, bless him the contrary way.
Sir Charles told us, that he had desired Lord W. to give out every-where (that the adversaries of the Mansfield family might know it) his intended alliance; and that he and his nephew were both determined to procure a retrospection of all former proceedings.
Sir Charles got to Sir Harry Beauchamp's a little before his friend arrived. Sir Harry took him aside at his alighting, and told him, that Lady Beauchamp had had clouds on her brow all the day, and he was afraid, would not receive his son with the graciousness that once he hoped for from her: But that he left him to manage with her. She never, said he, had so high an opinion either of man or woman as she has of you.
Sir Charles addressed himself to her, as not doubting her goodness upon the foot of their former conversation; and praised her for the graces that however appeared but faintly in her countenance, till his compliments lighted them up, and made them shine full out in it. He told her, that his sister and Lord G. were to be married on the following Tuesday. He himself, he said, should set out for Paris on Friday after: but hoped to see a family intimacy begun between his sisters and Lady Beauchamp; and between their Lords, and Sir Harry, and Mr. Beauchamp. He applauded her on the generosity of her intentions, as declared to him in their former conference; and congratulated her on the power she had, of which she made so noble an use, of laying, at the same time, an obligation on the tenderest of husbands, and the most deserving of sons: Whose duty to her he engaged for.
All this set her in high good humour; and she took to herself, and bridled upon it, to express myself in Charlotte's manner, the praises and graces this adroit manager gave her, as if they were her unquestionable due.
This agreeable way they were all in, Sir Harry transported with his Lady's goodness, when Mr. Beauchamp arrived.
The young gentleman bent his knee to his stepmother, as well as to his father, and thanked her for the high favours his father had signified to him by Letter, that he owed to her goodness. She confirmed them; but, Sir Charles observed, with an ostentation that showed she thought very highly of her own generosity.
They had a very cheerful evening. Not one could would hang on Lady Beauchamp's brow, tho' once or twice it seemed a little overshadowed, as Mr. Beauchamp displayed qualities for which his father was too ready to admire him. Sir Charles thought it necessary to caution Sir Harry on this subject; putting it in this light, that Lady Beauchamp loved her husband so well, that she would be too likely to dread a rivalry in his affections from a son so very accomplished. Sir Harry took the hint kindly.
Mr. Beauchamp was under a good deal of concern at Sir Charles's engagements to leave England so soon after his arrival; and asked his father's leave to attend him. Sir Harry declared, that he could not part with him. Sir Charles chid his friend, and said, It was not quite so handsome a return to the joyful reception he had met with from Lady Beauchamp, and his father, as might have been expected from his Beauchamp; bowing to the Lady. But she excused the young gentleman, and said, she wondered not, that any-body who was favoured with his friendship, should be unwilling to be separated from him.
Sir Charles expresses great satisfaction in Mr. Beauchamp's being arrived before his departure, that he may present to us, himself, a man with whom he is sure we shall all be delighted, and leave him happy in that beloved society, which he himself is obliged to quit.
A repining temper, Lucy, would consider only the hardship of meeting a long-absent friend, just to feel the uneasiness of a second parting: But this man views every-thing in a right light. When his own happiness is not to be attained, he lays it out of his thoughts, and, as I have heretofore observed, rejoices in that of others. It is a pleasure to see how Sir Charles seems to enjoy the love which Dr. Bartlett expresses for his friend of them both.
Sir Charles addressed himself to him, on several occasions, in so polite, in so tender a manner, that every One told me afterwards, they are sure he loves me. Dr. Bartlett at the time, as he sat next me, whispered, on the regret expressed by all on losing him so soon—Ah, madam!—I know, and pity, my patron's struggles!—Struggles, Lucy! What could the doctor mean by this whisper to me? But I hope he guesses not at mine! If he does, would he have whispered his pity of Sir Charles to me?—Come, Lucy, this is some comfort, however; and I will endeavour to be brave upon it, that I may not, by my weakness, lessen myself in the doctor's good opinion.
It was agreed for Charlotte, whose assent was given in these words—'Do as you will—or, rather, as my brother will.—What signifies opposing him?' that the nuptials shall be solemnised, as privately as possible, at St. George's church. The company is to drop in at different doors, and with as few attendants as may be. Lord W. the Earl of G. and Lady Gertrude, Lord and Lady L. Miss Jervois, and your Harriet, are to be present at the ceremony. I was very earnest to be excused, till Miss Grandison, when we were alone, dropped down on one knee, and held up her hands, to beg me to accompany her. Mr. Everard Grandison, if he can be found, is to be also there, at Sir Charles's desire.
Dr. Bartlett, as I before hinted, at her earnest request, is to perform the ceremony. Sir Charles wished it to be at his own Parish church: But Miss Grandison thought it too near to be private. He was indifferent as to the place, he said—So it was at church; for he had been told of the difficulty we had to get Charlotte to desist from having it performed in her chamber; and seemed surprised—Fie, Charlotte! said he—An office so solemn!—Vows to receive and pay as in the Divine Presence—
She was glad, she told me, that she had not left that battle to be fought with him.
Monday, April 10.
Lord W. is come. Lord and Lady L. are here. They, and Miss Grandison received him with great respect. He embraced his nieces in a very affectionate manner. Sir Charles was absent. Lord W. is in person and behaviour a much more agreeable man than I expected him to be. Nor is he so decrepit with the gout, as I had supposed. He is very careful of himself, it seems. This world has been kind to him; and I fancy he makes a great deal of a little pain, for want of stronger exercises to his patience; and so is a sufferer by self-indulgence. Had I not been made acquainted with his free living, and with the insults he bore from Mrs. Giffard, with a spirit so poor and so low, I should have believed I saw not only the man of quality, but the man of sense, in his countenance. I endeavoured, however, as much as I could, to look upon him as the brother of the late Lady Grandison. Had he been worthy of that relation, how should I have reverenced him!
But whatever I thought of him, he was highly taken with me. He particularly praised me for the modesty which he said was visible in my countenance. Free livers, Lucy, taken with that grace in a woman, which they make it their pride to destroy! But all men, good and bad, admire modesty in a woman: And I am sometimes out of humour with our sex, that they do not as generally like modesty in men. I am sure that this grace, in Sir Charles Grandison, is one of his principal glories with me. It emboldens one's heart, and permits one to behave before him with ease; and, as I may say, with security, in the consciousness of a right intention.
But what were Lord W's praises of his nephew! He called him, The glory of his sex, and of human nature. How the cheeks of the dear Emily glowed at the praises given to her guardian!—She was the taller for them: When she moved, it was on tiptoe; stealing, as it were, cross the floor, lest she should lose any-thing that was said on a subject to delightful to her.
My Lord was greatly pleased with her too. He complimented her as the beloved ward of the best of guardians. He lamented, with us, the occasion that called his nephew abroad. He was full of his own engagements with Miss Mansfield, and declared that his nephew should guide and govern him as he pleased in every material case, respecting either the conduct of his future life, or the management and disposition of his estate; declaring, that he had made his will, and, reserving only his Lady's jointure, and a few legacies, had left every-thing to him.—How right a thing, even in policy, is it, my dear, to be a good, and a generous man!
I must not forget, that my Lord wished, with all his soul, that was his expression, that he might have the honour of giving to his nephew my hand in marriage.
I could feel myself blush. I half-suppressed a sigh: I would have wholly suppressed it, if I could. I recovered the little confusion, his too plainly expressed wish gave me, by repeating to myself the word Clementina.
This Charlotte is a great coward. But I dare not tell her so, for fear of a retort. I believe I should be as great a one in her circumstances, so few hours to one of the greatest events of one's life! But I pretend not to bravery: Yet hope, that in the cause of virtue or honour I should be found to have a Soul.
I write now at my cousins. I came hither to make an alteration in my dress. I have promised to be with the sweet Bully early in the morning of her important day.
Volume IV - lettera 20
| indice letture JA | home page |