Jane Austen
Samuel Richardson - Sir Charles Grandison
Volume IV - lettere 21/30
traduzione di Giuseppe Ierolli

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Volume IV - Letter 21


Tuesday Night, Wednesday Morning, April 11, 12.

Miss Grandison is no longer to be called by that name. She is Lady G. May she make Lord G. as happy as I dare say he will make her, if it be not her own fault.

I was early with her according to promise. I found her more affected than she was even last night with her approaching change of condition. Her brother had been talking to her, she said; and had laid down the duties of the state she was about to enter into, in such a serious manner, and made the performance of them of so much importance to her happiness both here and hereafter, that she was terrified at the thoughts of what she was about to undertake. She had never considered matrimony in that formidable light before. He had told her, that he was afraid of her vivacity; yet was loth to discourage her cheerfulness, or to say any-thing that should lower her spirits. All he besought of her was, to regard times, tempers, and occasions; and then it would be impossible but her lively humour must give delight not only to the man whom she favoured with her hand, but to every one who had the pleasure of approaching her. If, Charlotte, said he, you would have the world around you respect your husband, you must set the example. While the wife gives the least room to suspect, that she despises her husband, she will find, that she subjects him to double contempt, if he resents it not; and if he does, can you be happy? Aggressors lay themselves open to severe reprisals. If you differ you will be apt to make by-standers judges over you. They will remember when you are willing to forget; and your fame will be the sport of those beneath you, as well in understanding as degree.

She believed, she told me, that Lord G. had been making some complaints of her. If he had—

Hush, my dear, said I—Not one word of threatening: Are you more solicitous to conceal your fault, than to mend it?

No—But you know, Harriet, for a man, before he has experienced what sort of a wife I shall make, to complain against me for foibles in courtship, when he can help himself if he will, has something so very little—

Your conscience, Charlotte, tells you, that he had reason for complaint; and therefore you think he has complained. Think the best of Lord G. for your own reputation's sake, since you thought fit to go thus far with him. You have borne nothing from him: He has borne a great deal from you.

I am fretful, Harriet: I won't be chidden: I will be comforted by you: You shall sooth me: Are you not my sister? She threw her arms round me, and kissed my check.

I ventured to railly her, tho' I was afraid of her retort, and met with it: But I thought it would divert her. I am glad, my dear, said I, that you are capable of this tenderness of temper: You blustering girls—But Fear, I believe, will make cowards loving.

Harriet, said she, and flung from me to the window, remember this: May I soon see you in the same situation! I will then have no mercy upon you.

* *

The subject, which Sir Charles led to at breakfast, was the three weddings of Thursday last. He spoke honourably of marriage, and made some just compliments to Lord and Lady L.; concluding them with wishes, that his sister Charlotte and Lord G. might be neither more nor less happy than they were. Then turning to Lord W. he said, He questioned not his Lordship's happiness with the lady he had so lately seen; for I cannot doubt, said he, of your Lordship's affectionate gratitude to her, if she behaves, as I am sure she will.

My Lord had tears in his eyes. Never man had such a nephew as I have, said he. said he. All the joy of my present prospects, all the comforts of my future life, are and will be owing to you.

Here had he stopped, it would have been well; But turning to me, he unexpectedly said, Would to God, madam, that you could reward him! I cannot; and nobody else can.

All were alarmed for me; every eye was upon me. A sickishness came came over my heart—I know not how to describe it. My head sunk upon my bosom. I could hardly sit; yet was less able to rise.

Sir Charles's face was overspread with blushes. He bowed to my Lord. May the man, said he, who shall have the honour to call Miss Byron his, be, if possible, as deserving as she is! Then will they live together the life of angels.

He gracefully looked down, not at me; and I got a little courage to look up: Yet Lady L. was concerned for me: So was Lord L.: Emily's eye dropped a tear upon her blushing cheek.

Was it not, Lucy, a severe trial?—Indeed it was.

My Lord, to mend the matter, lamented very pathetically, that Sir Charles was under an obligation to go abroad; and still more, that he could not stay to be present at the celebration of his nuptials with Miss Mansfield.

The Earl, Lord G. Lady Gertrude, and the Doctor, were to meet the Bride and us at church. Lord and Lady L. Sir Charles, and Emily, went in one coach: Miss Grandison and I in another.

As we went, I don't like this affair at all, Harriet, said she. My brother has long made all other men indifferent to me. Such an infinite difference!

Can any-body be happier than Lord and Lady L. Charlotte? Yet Lady L. admires her brother as much as you can do.

They happy!—And so they are. But Lady L. soft soul! fell in love with Lord L. before my brother came over. So the foundation was laid: And it being a first flame with her, she, in compliment to herself, could not but persevere. But the sorry creature Anderson, proving a sorry creature, made me despise the sex: And my brother's perfections contributed to my contempt of all other men.

Indeed, my dear, you are wrong. Lord G. loves you: But were Sir Charles not your brother, it is not very certain, that he would have returned your Love.

Why, that's true. I believe he would not, in that case, have chosen me. I am sure he would not, if he had known you: But for the man one loves, one can do any-thing, be every-thing, that he would wish one to be.

Do you think you cannot love Lord G.?—For Heaven's sake, Charlotte, tho' you are now almost within sight of the church, do not think of giving your hand, if you cannot resolve to make Lord G. as happy, as I have no doubt he will make you, if it be not your own fault.

What will my brother say? What will—

Leave that to me. I will engage Sir Charles and Dr. Bartlett to lend me their ear in the vestry; and I am sure your brother, if he knows that you have an antipathy to Lord G. or that you think you cannot be happy with him, will undertake your cause, and bring you off.

Antipathy! That's a strong word, Harriet. The man is a good natured silly man—

Silly! Charlotte!—Silly then he must be for loving you so well, who, really, have never yet given him an opportunity to show his importance with you.

I do pity him sometimes.

The coach stopped—Ah, Lord! Harriet! The church! The church!

Say, Charlotte, before you step out—Shall I speak to your brother, and Dr. Bartlett, in the vestry?

I shall look like a fool either way.

Don't act like one, Charlotte, on this solemn occasion. Say, you will deserve, that you will try to deserve, Lord G's love.

Lord help me!—My brother!—I'll try, I'll try, what can be done.

Sir Charles appeared. He gave each his hand in turn: In we flew: The people began to gather about us. Lord G. all rapture, received her at the entrance. Sir Charles led me: And the Earl and Lady Gertrude received us with joy in their countenances. I overheard the naughty one say, as Lord G. led her up to the altar, You don't know what you are about, man. I expect to have all my way: Remember that's one of my articles before marriage.

He returned her an answer of fond assent to her condition. I am afraid, thought I, poor Lord G. you will be more than once reminded of this previous article.

When she was led to the altar, and Lord G. and she stood together, she trembled. Leave me not, Harriet, said the—Brother! Lady L.!

I am sure she looked sillier than Lord G. at that instant.

The good doctor began the office. No dearly beloveds, Harriet! whispered she, as I had said, on a really terrible occasion. I was offended with her in my heart: Again she whispered something against the office, as the doctor proceeded to give the reasons for the institution. Her levity did not forsake her even at that solemn moment.

When the Service was over, every one (Sir Charles in a solemn and most affectionate manner) wished her happy. My Lord G. kissed her hand with a bent knee.

She took my hand. Ah! Lord, what have I done?—And am I married? whispered she—And can it never be undone?—And is that the man, to whom I am to be obedient?—Is he to be my Lord and Master?

Ah, Lady G. said I, it is a solemn office. You have vowed: He has vowed.—It is a solemn office.

Lord G. led her to the first coach. Sir Charles led me into the same. The people, to my great confusion, whispered. That's the Bride! What a charming couple! Sir Charles handed Miss Emily next. Lord G. came in: As he was entering, Harkee, friend, said Charlotte, and put out her hand, You mistake the coach: You are not of our company.

The whole world, reply'd my Lord, shall not now divide us: And took his seat on the same side with Emily.

The man's a rogue, Harriet, whispered she: See! He gives himself airs already!

This, said Lord G. as the coach drove on, taking one hand and eagerly kissing it, is the hand that blessed me.

And that, said she, pushing him from her with the other, is the hand that repulses your forwardness. What came you in here for?—Don't be silly.

He was in raptures all the way.

When he came home, every-one embraced and wished joy to the Bride. The Earl and Lady Gertrude were in high spirits. The Lady re-saluted her niece, as her dear niece: The Earl recognised his beloved daughter.

But prepare to hear a noble action of Lord W.

When he came up to compliment her—My dearest niece, said he, I wish you joy with all my soul. I have not been a kind uncle. There is no fastening any-thing on your brother. Accept of this; [and he put a little paper into her hand—It was a Bank-note of 1000 l.] My sister's daughter, and your brother's sister, merits more than this.

Was not this handsomely presented, Lucy?

He then, in a manner becoming Lady Grandison's brother, stepped to Lady L. My niece, Charlotte, is not my only niece. I wish you, my dear, as if this was your day of marriage, all happiness; accept these two papers [The one, Lucy, was a note for 1000 l. and the other for 100 l.]: And he said, The lesser note is due to you for interest on the greater.

When the Ladies opened their notes, and saw what they were, they were at first at a loss what to say.

It was most gracefully done: But see, Lucy, the example of a good and generous man can sometimes alter natures; and covetous men, I have heard it observed, when their hearts are open'd, often act nobly.

As soon as Lady G. (So now I must call her) recovered herself from the surprise into which my Lord's present and address had put her, she went to him: Allow me, my Lord, said she, and bent one knee to him, to crave your blessing; and at the same time to thank you for your paternal present to your ever obliged Charlotte.

God bless you, my dear! saluting her—But thank your noble brother: You delight me with your graceful acceptance.

Lady L. came up. My Lord, you overcome me by your bounty.—How shall I—

Your brother's princely spirit, Lady L. said he, makes this present look mean. Forgive me only, that it was not done before. And he saluted her.

Lord L. came up. Lady L. show'd him the open'd notes—See here, my Lord said she, what Lord W. has done: And he calls this the interest due on that.

Your Lordship oppresses me with your goodness to your niece, said Lord L. May health, long-life, and happiness, attend you in your own nuptials!

There, there, said Lord W. pointing to Sir Charles (who had withdrawn, and then entered) make your acknowledgement: His noble spirit has awakened mine: It was only asleep. My late sister's brother wanted but the force of such an example. That son is all his mother.

Sir Charles joining them, having heard only the last words.—If I am thought a son not unworthy of the most excellent of mothers, said he, and by her brother, I am happy.

Then you are happy, reply'd my Lord.

Her memory, resumed Sir Charles, I cherish; and when I have been tempted to forget myself, that memory has been a means of keeping me steady in my duty. Her precepts, my Lord, were the guide of my early youth. Had I not kept them in mind, how much more blameable than most young men had I been!—My Charlotte! Have that mother in your memory, on this great change of your condition! You will not be called to her trials.—His eyes glisten'd. Tender be our remembrance of my father.—Charlotte, be worthy of your mother!

He withdrew with an air so noble!—But soon returning, with a cheerful look, he was told what Lord W. had done—Your Lordship was before, said he, entitled to our duty, by the ties of blood: But what is the relation of body to that of mind? You have bound me for my sisters, and that still more by the manner, than by the act, in a bond of gratitude that never can be broken!

Thank yourself, thank yourself, my noble nephew.

Encourage, my Lord, a family intimacy between your Lady, and her nieces and nephews. You will be delighted, my sisters, with Miss Mansfield; but when she obliges my Lord with her hand, you will reverence your aunt. I shall have a pleasure, when I am far distant, in contemplating the family union. Your Lordship must let me know your Day in time; and I will be joyful upon it, whatever, of a contrary nature, I may have to struggle with on my own account.

My Lord wept—My Lord wept, did I say?—Not one of us had a dry eye!—This was a solemn scene, you will say, for a wedding-day: But how delightfully do such scenes dilate the heart?

The day, however, was not forgotten as a day of festivity. Sir Charles himself, by his vivacity and openness of countenance, made every one joyful: And, except that now-and-then a sigh, which could not be check'd, stole from some of us, to think that he would so soon be in another country (far distant from the friends he now made happy) and engaged in difficulties; perhaps in dangers; every heart was present to the occasion of the day.

O Charlotte! Dear Lady G.! Hitherto, it is in your power, to make every future day, worthy of this!—'Have your mother, your noble mother, in your memory, my dear:' And give credit to the approbation of such a brother.

I should have told you, that my cousin Reeves's came about two, and were received with the utmost politeness by every-body.

Sir Charles was called out just before dinner; and returned introducing a young gentleman, dressed as if for the day—This is an earlier favour, than I had hoped for, said Sir Charles; and leading him to Lady G. This, Sir, is the Queen of the Day. My dear Lady G. welcome (The house is yours—Welcome) the man I love: Welcome my Beauchamp.

Every one, except Emily and me, crowded about Mr. Beauchamp, as Sir Charles's avowedly beloved friend, and bid him cordially welcome; Sir Charles presented him to each by name.

Then leading him to me—I am half ashamed, Lucy, to repeat—But take it as he spoke it—Revere, said he, my dear friend, that excellent young Lady: But let not your admiration stop at her Face and Person: She has a Mind as exalted, my Beauchamp, as your own. Miss Byron, in honour to my sister, and of us all, has gilded this day by her presence.

Mr. Beauchamp respectfully took my hand; Forgive me, madam, bowing upon it—I do revere you. The Lady whom Sir Charles Grandison admires, as he does you, must be the first of women.

I might have said, that he, who was so eminently distinguished as the friend of Sir Charles Grandison, must be a most valuable man: But my spirits were not high. I curtsied to his compliment; and was silent.

Sir Charles presented Emily to him.—My Emily, Beauchamp. I hope to live to see her happily married. The man whose heart is but half so worthy as hers, must be an excellent man.

Modesty might look up, and be sensible to compliments from the lips of such a man. Emily looked at me with pleasure, as if she had said, Do you hear, madam, what a fine thing my guardian has said of me?

Sir Charles asked Mr. Beauchamp, how he stood with my Lady Beauchamp?

Very well, answered he. After such an introduction as you had given me to her, I must have been to blame, had I not. She is my father's wife: I must respect her, were she ever so unkind to me: She is not without good qualities. Were every family so happy as to have Sir Charles Grandison for a mediator when misunderstandings happened, there would be very few lasting differences among relations. My father and mother tell me, that they never sit down to table together, but they bless you: And to me they have talked of nobody else: But Lady Beauchamp depends upon your promise of making her acquainted with the Ladies of your family.

My sisters, and their Lords, will do honour to my promise in my absence. Lady L. Lady G. let me recommend to you Lady Beauchamp as more than a common visiting acquaintance. Do you, Sir, to Mr. Beauchamp, see it cultivated.

Mr. Beauchamp is an agreeable, and, when Sir Charles Grandison is not in company, handsome and genteel man. I think, my dear, that I do but the same justice that every body would do, in this exception. He is cheerful, lively, yet modest, and not too full of words. One sees both love and respect in every look he casts upon his friend; and that he is delighted when he hears him speak, be the subject what it will. He once said to Lord W. who praised his nephew to him, as he does to every-body near him; The universal voice, my Lord, is in his favour wherever he goes. Every one joins almost in the same words, in different countries, allowing for the different languages, that for sweetness of manners, and manly dignity, he hardly ever had his equal.

Sir Charles was then engaged in talk with his Emily; she before him; he standing in an easy genteel attitude, leaning against the wainscot, listening, smiling, to her prattle, with looks of indulgent love, as a father might do to a child he was fond of; while she looked back every now-and-then towards me, so proud, poor dear! of being singled out by her guardian.

She tripped to me afterwards, and leaning over my shoulder, as I sat, whispered—I have been begging of my guardian to use his interest with you, madam, to take me down with you to Northamptonshire.

And what is the result?—She paused.—Has he denied your request?—No, madam—Has he allowed you to go, my dear, if I comply? turning half round to her with pleasure.

She paused, and seemed at a loss. I repeated my question.

Why, no, he has not consented neither—But he said such charming things, so obliging, so kind, both of you, and of me, that I forgot my question, tho' it was so near my heart: But I will ask him again.

And thus, Lucy, can he decline complying, and yet send away a requester so much delighted with him, as to forget what her request was.

Miss Grandison—Lady G. I would say—singled me out soon after—This Beauchamp is really a very pretty fellow, Harriet.

He is an agreeable man, answered I.

So I think. She said no more of him at that time.

Between dinner and tea, at Lady L.'s motion, they made me play on the harpsichord; and after one lesson, they besought Sir Charles to sing to my playing. He would not, he said, deny any request that was made him on that day.

He sung. He has a mellow manly voice, and great command of it.

This introduced a little concert. Mr. Beauchamp took the violin; Lord L. the bass-viol; Lord G. the German-flute; Lord W. sung base; Lady L. Lady G. and the Earl, joined in the chorus. The song was from Alexander's Feast: The words,

Happy, happy, happy pair!

None but the good deserves the fair;

Sir Charles, tho' himself equally brave and good, preferring the latter word to the former.

Lady L. had always insisted upon dancing at her sister's wedding. We were not company enough for country dances: But music having been order'd, and the performers come, it was insisted upon that we should have a dance, tho' we were engaged in a conversation, that I thought infinitely more agreeable.

Lord G. began with dancing a minuet with his bride; She danced charmingly: But on my telling her so afterwards, she whispered me, that she should have performed better, had she danced with her brother. Lord G. danced extremely well.

Lord L. and Lady Gertrude, Mr. Beauchamp and Mrs. Reeves, Mr. Reeves and Lady L. danced all of them very agreeably.

The Earl took me out: But we had hardly done, when, asking pardon for disgracing me, as he too modestly expressed himself; he and all but my cousins and Emily, called out for Sir Charles to dance with me.

I was abashed at the general voice calling upon us both: But it was obeyed.

He deserved all the praises that Miss Gran—Lady G. I would say, gave him in her Letter to me; and had every one's silent applause, while we danced; so silent, that a whisper must have been heard. And when he lead me to my seat, every one clapt their hands, as at some well-performed part, or fine sentiment, in a play—Lord bless me, my dear, this man is every-thing: But his conversation has ever been among the politest people of different nations.

Lord W. wished himself able, from his gout, to take out Miss Jervois. The Bridegroom was called upon by Sir Charles: and he took out the good girl; who danced very prettily. I fancied, that he chose to call out Lord G. rather than Mr. Beauchamp. He is the most delicate and considerate of men.

Sir Charles was afterwards called upon by the Bride herself: And she danced then with a grace indeed! I was pleased that she could perform so well at her own wedding.

Once more he and I were called upon. He, whisperingly, as if all the approbation so loudly given before, when we danced together, was due to me, and none to himself, condition'd for me, with every one, that no notice should be taken of my performance: For he saw that I could hardly stand the applauses given on our dancing before.

Sir Charles, when we had done, called me, inimitable. The word was caught by every mouth, and I sat down with reason enough for pride, if their praises could have elevated me. But I was not proud. My spirits were not high—I fancy, Lucy, that Lady Clementina is a fine dancer.

Supper was not ready till twelve. Mr. Reeves's coach came about that hour; but we got not away till two. Perhaps the company would not have broke up so soon, had not the Bride been perverse, and refused to retire. Was she not at home? she asked Lady L. who was put upon urging her: And should she leave her company?

She would make me retire with her: She took a very affectionate leave of me.

Marriage, Lucy, is an awful rite. It is supposed to be a joyful solemnity: But on the woman's side it can be only so, when she is given to the man she loves above all the men in the world; and even to her, the anniversary day, when doubt is turned into certainty, must be much happier than the day itself. What a victim must that woman look upon herself to be, who is compelled, or even over-persuaded, to give her hand to a man who has no share in her heart? Ought not a parent or guardian, in such a circumstance, especially if the child has a delicate, an honest mind, to be chargeable with all the unhappy consequences that may follow from such a cruel compulsion?

But this is not the case with Miss Grandison. Early she cast her eye on an improper object. Her pride convinced her in time of the impropriety. And this, as she owns, gave her an difference to all men. She hates not Lord G. There is no man whom she prefers to him. And in this respect, may perhaps, be upon a par with eight women out of twelve, who marry, and yet make not bad wives. As she played with her passion till she lost it, she may be happy, if she will: And since she intended to be, some time or other, Lady, G. her brother was kind in persuading her to shorten her days of coquetting and teasing, and allow him to give her to Lord G. before he went abroad.


Volume IV - lettera 21

Volume IV - Letter 22


Wednesday, April 12.

Dr. Bartlett was so good as to breakfast with my cousins and me this morning. He talks of setting out for Grandison-hall on Saturday or Monday next. We have settled a correspondence; and he gives me hope, that he will make me a visit in Northamptonshire. I know you will all rejoice to see him.

Emily came in before the Doctor went. She brought me the compliments of the Bride, and Lord W. with their earnest request, that I would dine with them. Sir Charles was gone, she said, to make a farewell visit to the Danby set; but would be at home at dinner.

It would be better for me, I think, Lucy, to avoid all opportunities of seeing him: Don't you think so?—There is no such thing as seeing him with indifference. But, so earnestly invited, how could I deny?

My cousins were also invited: But having engaged to be at home in the afternoon, they excused themselves.

Miss Jervois whispered me at parting. I never before, said she, had an opportunity to observe the behaviour of a new-married couple to each other: But is it customary, madam, for the Bride to be more snappish, as the Bridegroom is more obliging?

Lady G. is very naughty, my dear, if she so behaves, as to give you reason to ask this question.

She does: And upon my word, I see more obedience where it was not promised, than where it was. Dear madam, is not what is said at church to be thought of afterwards? But why did not the doctor make her speak out? What signified bowing, except a woman was so bashful that she could not speak?

The bowing, my dear, is an assent. It is as efficacious as words. Lord G. only bowed, you know. Could you like to be called upon, Emily, to speak out?

Why, no. But then I would be very civil and goodnatured to my husband, if it were but for fear he should be cross to me: But I should think it my duty as well—Sweet innocent!

She went away, and left the doctor with me.

When our hearts are set upon a particular subject, how impertinent, how much beside the purpose, do we think every other! I wanted the doctor to talk of Sir Charles Grandison: But as he fell not into the subject, and as I was afraid he would think me to be always leading him into it, if I began it, I suffered him to go away at his first motion: I never knew him so shy upon it, however.

Sir Charles returned to dinner. He has told Lady L. who afterwards told us, that he had a hint from Mr. Galliard, senior, that if he were not engaged in his affections, he was commissioned to make him a very great proposal in behalf of one of the young ladies he had seen the Thursday before; and that from her father.

Surely, Lucy, we may pronounce without doubt, that we live in an age in which there is a great dearth of good men, that so many offers fall to the lot of one. But, I am thinking, 'tis no small advantage to Sir Charles, that his time is so taken up, that he cannot stay long enough in any company to suffer them to cast their eyes on other objects, with distinction. He left the numerous assembly at Enfield, while they were in the height of their admiration of him. Attention, love, admiration, cannot be always kept at the stretch. You will observe, Lucy, that on the return of a long-absent dear friend, the rapture lasts not more than an hour: Gladdened, as the heart is, the friend received, and the friend: receiving, perhaps in less' than that time, can sit down quietly together, to hear and to tell stories, of what has happened to either in the long-regretted absence. It will be so with us. Lucy, when I return to the arms of my kind friends: And now, does not Sir Charles's proposed journey to Italy endear his company to us?

The Earl of G. Lady Gertrude, and two agreeable nieces of that Nobleman's, were here at dinner. Lady G. behaved pretty well to her Lord before them: But I, who understood the language of her eyes, saw them talk very saucily to him, on several occasions. My Lord is a little officious in his obligingness; which takes off from that graceful, and polite frankness, which so charmingly, on all occasions, distinguishes one happy man, who was then present. Lord G. will perhaps appear more to advantage in that person's absence.

Mr. Beauchamp was also present. He is indeed an agreeable, a modest young man. He appeared to great advantage, as well in his conversation, as by his behaviour: And not the less for subscribing in both to the superiority of his friend; who nevertheless endeavoured to draw him out, as the first man.

After dinner, Lady L. Lady G. and I, found an opportunity to be by ourselves for one half-hour. Lady G. asked Lady L. what she intended to do with the thousand pounds with which Lord W. had so generously presented her?—Do with it, my dear!—What do you think I intend to do with it?—It is already disposed of.

I'll be hanged, said Lady G. if this good creature has not given it to her husband.

Indeed, Charlotte, I have. I gave it to him before I slept.

I thought so! She laughed—And Lord L. took it? Did he?

To be sure he did. I should otherwise have been displeased with him.

Dear, good soul!—And so you gave him a thousand pounds to take part of it back from him, by four or five paltry guineas at a time, at his pleasure?

Lord L. and I, Charlotte, have but one purse. You may perhaps, know how we manage it.

Pray, good, meek, dependent creature! how do you manage it?

Thus, Charlotte: My Lord knows that his wife and he have but one interest; and from the first of our happy marriage, he would make me take one key, as he has another, of the private drawer, where his money and money-bills lie. There is a little memorandum-book in the drawer, in which he enters on one page, the money he receives; on the opposite, the money he takes out: And when I want money, I have recourse to my key. If I see but little in the drawer, I am the more moderate; or, perhaps, if my want is not urgent, defer the supplying of it till my Lord is richer: But little, or much, I minute down the sum, as he himself does; and so we know what we are about; and I never put it out of my Lord's power, by my unseasonable expenses, to preserve that custom of his for which he is as much respected, as well served; not to suffer a demand to be twice made upon him where he is a debtor.

Good soul!—And, pray, don't you minute down too the use to which you put the money you take out?

Indeed I often do: Always indeed, when I take out more than five guineas at one time: I found my Lord did so; and I followed the example of my own accord.

Happy pair! said I—O Lady G. what a charming example is this!—I hope you'll follow it.

Thank you, Harriet, for your advice. Why, I can't but say, that this is one pretty way of coaxing each other into frugality: But don't you think, that where an honest pair are so tender of disobliging, and so studious of obliging each other, that they seem to confess that the matrimonial good understanding hangs by very slender threads?

And do not the tenderest friendships, said I, hang by as slender? Can delicate minds be united to each other but by delicate observances?

Why thou art a good soul, too, Harriet!—And so you would both have me make a present to Lord G. of my thousand pounds before we have chosen our private drawer; before he has got two keys made to it?

Let him know, Charlotte, what Lord L. and I do, if you think the example worth following—And then—

Ay, and then give him my thousand pounds for a beginning, Lady L.?—But see you not that this proposal should come from him, not from me?—And should we not let each other see a little of each other's merits, first?

See, first, the merits of the man you have married, Charlotte!

Yes, Lady L.—But yesterday married, you know. Can there be a greater difference between any two men in the world, than there often is between the same man, a lover, and an husband?—And now, my generous advisers, be pleased to continue silent. You cannot answer me fairly. And besides, wot ye not the indelicacy of an early present, which you are not obliged to make?

We were both silent, each expecting the other to answer the strange creature.

She laughed at us both. Soft souls, and tender! said she, let me tell you, that there is more in delicacy, than you very delicate people are aware of.

You, Charlotte, said Lady L. have odder notions than any body else. Had you been a man, you would have been a sad rake.

A rake perhaps I might have been; but not a sad one, Lady L.

Lady G. can't help being witty, said I: It is sometimes her misfortune, sometimes ours, that she cannot: However, I highly approve of the example set by Lord L. and followed by Lady L.

And so do I, Harriet. And when Lord G. sets the example, I shall—consider of it. I am not a bad economist. Had I ten thousand pounds in my hands, I would not be extravagant: Had I but one hundred, I would not be mean. I value not money but as it enables me to lay an obligation, instead of being under the necessity of receiving one. I am my mother's daughter, and brother's sister; and yours, Lady L. in this particular; and yours too, Harriet: Different means may be taken to arrive at the same end. Lord G. will have no reason to be dissatisfied with my prudence in money-matters, altho' I should not make him one of my best curtsies, as if—as if—(and she laughed; but checking herself) I were conscious—again she laughed—that I had signed and sealed to my absolute dependence on his bounty.

What a mad creature! said Lady L.: But, my Harriet, don't you think that she behaved pretty well to Lord G. at table?

Yes, answered I, as those would think who observe not her arch looks: But she gave me pain for her several times; and I believe her brother was not without his apprehensions.

He had his eyes upon you, Harriet, reply'd Lady G. more earnestly than he had upon me, or any-body else.

That's true, said Lady L. I looked upon both him and you, my dear, with pity. My tears were ready to start more than once, to reflect how happy you two might be in each other, and how greatly you would love each other, were it not—

Not one word more on this subject, dear Lady L.! I cannot bear it. I thought my-self, that he often cast an eye of tenderness upon me. I cannot bear it. I am afraid of myself; of my justice—

His tender looks did not escape me, said Lady G. Nor yet did my dear Harriet's. But we will not touch this string: It is too tender a one. I, for my part, was forced, in order to divert myself, to turn my eyes on Lord G.: He got nothing by that. The most officious—

Nay, Lady G. interrupted I, you shall not change the discourse at the expense of the man you have vowed to honour. I will be pained myself, by the continuation of the former subject, rather than that shall be.

Charming Harriet! said Lady L. I hope your generosity will be rewarded. Yet tell me, my dear, can you wish Lady Clementina may be his? I have no doubt but you wish her recovery; but can you wish her to be his?

I have debated the matter, my dear Lady L. with myself. I am sorry it has admitted of debate: So excellent a creature! Such an honour to her Sex! So nobly sincere! So pious!—But I will confess the truth: I have called upon justice to support me in my determination: I have supposed myself in her situation, her unhappy malady excepted: I have supposed her in mine: And ought I then to have hesitated to which to give the preference?—Yet—

What yet, most frank, and most generous of women, said Lady L. clasping her arms about me; what yet—

Why, yet—Ah Ladies—Why, yet, I have many a pang; many a twitch, as I may call it!—Why is your brother so tender-hearted, so modest, so faultless!—Why did he not insult me with his pity! Why does he on every occasion show a tenderness for me, that is more affecting than pity! and why does he give me a consequence that exalts, while it depresses me?

I turned my head aside to hide my emotion—Lady G. snatched my handkerchief from me; and wiped away a starting tear; and called me by very tender names.

Am I dear, continued I, to the heart of such a man? You think I am: Allow me to say, that he is indeed dear to mine: Yet I have not a wish but for his happiness, whatever becomes of me.

Emily appeared at the door—May I come in, Ladies?—I will come in!—My dear Miss Byron affected! My dear Miss Byron in tears!

Her pity, without knowing the cause, sprung to her eyes. She took my hand in both hers, and repeatedly kissed it!—My guardian asks for you. O with what tenderness of voice—Where is your Miss Byron, Love? He calls every one by gentle names, when he speaks of you—His voice then is the voice of Love—Love, said he to me! Thro' you, madam, he will love his ward—And on your love will I build all my merit. But you sigh, dear Miss Byron, you sigh—Forgive your prating girl!—You must not be grieved.

I embraced her. Grief, my dear, reaches not my heart at this time. It is the merit of your guardian that affects me.

God bless you, madam, for your gratitude to my guardian!

A Clementina and an Harriet! said Lady L. two women so excellent! What a fate is his! How must his heart be divided!

Divided, say you, Lady L.! resumed Lady G. The man who loves virtue for virtue's sake, loves it wherever he finds it: Such a man may distinguish more virtuous women than one: And if he be of a gentle and beneficent nature, there will be tenderness in his distinction to every one, varying only according to the difference of her circumstances.

Let me embrace you, my Charlotte, resumed Lady L. for that thought. Don't let me hear for a month to come, one word from the same lips, that may be unworthy of it.

You have Lord G. in your head, Lady L.: But never mind us. He must now-and-then be made to look about him. I'll take care to keep up my consequence with him, never fear: Nor shall he have reason to doubt the virtue of his wife.

Virtue, my dear! said I: What is virtue only? She who will not be virtuous for virtue's sake, is not worthy to be called a woman: But she must be something more than virtuous for her husband's, nay, for her vow's sake. Complacency, obligingness—

Obedience too, I warrant—Hush, hush, my sweet Harriet! putting her hand before my mouth, we will behave as well as we can: And that will be very well, if nobody minds us. And now let us go down together.

Volume IV - lettera 22

Volume IV - Letter 23


Thursday, April 13.

We played at cards last night till supper-time. When that was over, every one sought to engage Sir Charles in discourse. I will give you some particulars of our conversation, as I did of one before.

Lord W. began it with a complaint of the insolence and profligateness of servants. What he said, was only answered by Sir Charles, with the word example, example, my good Lord, repeated.

You, Sir Charles, replied my Lord, may indeed insist upon the force of example; for I cannot but observe, that all those of yours, whom I have seen, are entitled to regard. They have the looks of men at ease, and of men grateful for that ease: They know their duty, and need not a reminding look. A servant of yours, Sir Charles, looks as if he would one day make a figure as a master. How do you manage it?

Perhaps I have been peculiarly fortunate in worthy servants. There is nothing in my management deserving the attention of this company.

I am going to begin the world anew, nephew. Hitherto, servants have been a continual plague to me. I must know how you treat them.

I treat them, my Lord, as necessary parts of my family. I have no secrets, the keeping or disclosing of which might give them self-importance. I endeavour to set them no bad example. I am never angry with them but for wilful faults: If there are not habitual, I shame them into amendment by gentle expostulation, and forgiveness. If they are not capable of a generous shame, and the faults grow habitual, I part with them; but with such kindness, as makes their fellow-servants blame them, and take warning. I am fond of seeking occasions to praise them: And even when they mistake, if it be with a good intention, they have my approbation of the intention, and my endeavours to set them right as to the act. Sobriety is an indispensable qualification for my service; and for the rest, if we receive them not quite good, we make them better than they were before. Generally speaking, a master may make a servant what he pleases. Servants judge by example, rather than precept, and almost always by their feelings. One thing more permit me to add, I always insist upon my servants being kind and compassionate to one another. A compassionate heart cannot habitually be an unjust one. And thus do I make their good-nature contribute to my security as well as quiet.

My Lord was greatly pleased with what his nephew said.

Upon some occasion, Lady G. reflected upon a Lady for prudery; and was going on, when Sir Charles, interrupting her, said, Take care, Lady G.—You, Ladies, take care; for I am afraid that MODESTY, under this name, will become ignominious, and be banished the hearts, at least the behaviour and conversation, of all those whose fortunes or inclinations carry them often to places of public resort.

Talk of places of public resort! said Lord L.; It is vexatious to observe at such, how men of real merit are neglected by the fine Ladies of the age, while every distinction is shown to fops and foplings.

But, who, my Lord, said Sir Charles, are those women? Are they not generally of a class with those men? Flippant women love empty men, because they cannot reproach them with a superiority of understanding, but keep their folly in countenance. They are afraid of a wise man: But I would by no means have such a one turn fool to please them: For they will despise the wise man's folly more than the silly man's, and with reason; because being uncharacteristic, it must sit more awkwardly upon him than the others can do.

Yet wisdom itself, and the truest wisdom, goodness, said Mrs. Reeves, is sometimes thought to sit ungracefully, when it is uncharacteristic, not to the man, but to the times. She then named a person who was branded as an hypocrite, for performing all his duties publicly.

He will be worse spoken of, if he declines doing so, said Dr. Bartlett. His enemies will add the charge of cowardice; and not acquit him of the other.

Lady Gertrude being withdrawn, it was mentioned as a wonder, that so agreeable a woman, as she must have been in her youth, and still was for her years, should remain single. Lord G. said, that she had had many offers: And once, before she was twenty, had like to have stolen a wedding: but her fears, he said, since that, had kept her single.

The longer, said Sir Charles, a woman remains unmarried, the more apprehensive she will be of entering into the state. At seventeen or eighteen a girl will plunge into it, sometimes without either fear or wit; at twenty she will begin to think; at twenty-four will weigh and discriminate; at twenty-eight will be afraid of venturing; at thirty will turn about, and look down the hill she has ascended; and, as occasions offer, and instances are given, will sometimes repent, sometimes rejoice, that she has gained that summit sola.

Indeed, said Mrs. Reeves, I believe in England many a poor girl goes up the hill with a companion she would little care for, if the state of a single woman were not here so peculiarly unprovided and helpless: For girls of slender fortunes, if they have been genteelly brought up, how can they, when family-connexions are dissolved, support themselves? A man can rise in a profession, and if he acquires wealth in a trade, can get above it, and be respected. A woman is looked upon as demeaning herself, if she gains a maintenance by her needle, or by domestic attendance on a superior; and without them where has she a retreat?

You speak, good Mrs. Reeves, said Sir Charles, as if you would join with Dr. Bartlett and me in wishing the establishment of a scheme we have often talked over, tho' the name of it would make many a Lady start. We want to see established in every county, Protestant Nunneries; in which single women of small or no fortunes might live with all manner of freedom, under such regulations as it would be a disgrace for a modest or good woman not to comply with, were she absolutely on her own hands; and to be allowed to quit it whenever they pleased.

Well, brother, said Lady G. and why could you not have got all this settled a fortnight ago (you that can carry every point) and have made poor me a Lady Abbess?

You are still better provided for, my sister: But let the Doctor and me proceed with our scheme. The governesses or matrons of the society I would have to be women of family, of unblameable characters from infancy, and noted equally for their prudence, good-nature, and gentleness of manners. The attendants, for the slighter services, should be the hopeful female children of the honest industrious poor.

Do you not, Ladies, imagine, said Dr. Bartlett, that such a society as this, all women of unblemish'd reputation, employing themselves as each (consulting her own genius) at her admission, shall undertake to employ herself, and supported genteelly, some at more, some at less expense to the foundation, according to their circumstances; might become a national good; and particularly a seminary for good wives, and the institution a stand for virtue, in an age given up to luxury, extravagance, and amusements little less than riotous?

How could it be supported? said Lord W.

Many of the persons, of which each community would consist, would be, I imagine, replied Sir Charles, no expense to it at all; as numbers of young women, joining their small fortunes, might be able, in such a society, to maintain themselves genteelly on their own income; tho' each, singly in the world, would be distressed. Besides, liberty might be given for wives, in the absence of their husbands, in this maritime country; and for widows, who, on the deaths of theirs, might wish to retire from the noise and hurry of the world, for three, six, or twelve months, more or less; to reside in this well-regulated society. And such persons, we may suppose, would be glad, according to their respective abilities, to be benefactresses to it. No doubt but it would have besides the countenance of the well-disposed of both sexes; since every family in Britain, in their connexions and relations, near or distant, might be benefited by so reputable and useful an institution: To say nothing of the works of the Ladies in it, the profits of which perhaps will be thought proper to be carried towards the support of a foundation that so genteelly supports them. Yet I would have a number of hours in each day, for the encouragement of industry, that should be called their own; and what was produced in them, to be solely appropriated to their own use.

A truly worthy divine, at the appointment of the Bishop of the diocese, to direct and animate the devotion of such a society, and to guard it from that superstition and enthusiasm which soars to wild heights in almost all Nunneries, would confirm it a blessing to the kingdom.

I have another scheme, my Lord, proceeded Sir Charles—An Hospital for female Penitents; for such unhappy women, as having been once drawn in, and betrayed by the perfidy of men, find themselves, by the cruelty of the world, and principally by that of their own Sex, unable to recover the path of virtue, when perhaps (convinced of the wickedness of the men in whose honour they confided) they would willingly make their first departure from it the last.

These, continued he, are the poor creatures who are eminently entitled to our pity, tho' they seldom meet with it. Good-nature, and Credulity the child of good nature, are generally, as I have the charity to believe, rather than viciousness, the foundation of their crime. Those men who pretend they would not be the first destroyers of a woman's innocence, look upon these as fair prize. But, what a wretch is he, who seeing a poor creature exposed on the summit of a dangerous precipice, and unable, without an assisting hand, to find her way down, would rather push her into the gulf below, than convey her down in safety?

Speaking of the force put upon a daughter's inclinations, in wedlock: Tyranny and ingratitude, said Sir Charles, from a man beloved, will be more supportable to a woman of strong passions, than even kindness from a man she loves not: Shall not parents then, who hope to see their children happy, avoid compelling them to give their hands to a man who has no share in their hearts?

But would you allow young Ladies to be their own choosers, Sir Charles? said Mr. Reeves.

Daughters, replied he, who are earnest to choose for themselves, should be doubly careful that prudence justifies their choice. Every widow who marries imprudently (and very many there are who do) furnishes a strong argument in favour of a parent's authority over a maiden daughter. A designing man looks out for a woman who has an independent fortune, and has no questions to ask. He seems assured of finding indiscretion and rashness in such a one to befriend him. But ought not she to think herself affronted, and resolve to disappoint him?

But how, said Lady G. shall a young creature be able to judge—

By his application to her, rather than to her natural friends and relations; by his endeavouring to alienate her affections from them; by wishing her to favour private and clandestine meetings (conscious that his pretensions will not stand discussion) by the inequality of his fortune to hers: And has not our excellent Miss Byron, in the Letters to her Lucy (bowing to me) which she has had the goodness to allow us to read, helped us to a criterion! 'Men in their addresses to young women, she very happily observes, forget not to set forward the advantages by which they are distinguished, whether hereditary or acquired; while Love, Love, is all the cry of him who has no other to boast of.'

And by that means, said Lady Gertrude, setting the silly creature at variance with all her friends, he makes her fight his battles for him; and become herself the cat's paw to help him to the ready-roasted chestnuts.

But, dear brother, said Lady G. do you think Love is such a staid deliberate passion, as to allow a young creature to take time to ponder and weigh all the merits of the cause?

Love at first sight, answered Sir Charles, must indicate a mind prepared for impression, and a sudden gust of passion, and that of the least noble kind; since there could be no opportunity of knowing the merit of the object. What woman would have herself supposed capable of such a tindery-fit? In a man, it is an indelicate paroxysm: But in a woman, who expects protection and instruction from a man, much more so. Love, at first, may be only fancy. Such a young Love may be easily given up, and ought, to a parent's judgment. Nor is the conquest so difficult as some young creatures think it. One thing, my good Emily, let me say to you, as a rule of some consequence in the world you are just entering into—Young persons, on arduous occasions, especially in Love-cases, should not presume to advise young persons; because they seldom can divest themselves of passion, partiality or prejudice; that is, indeed, of youth; and forbear to mix their own concerns and biasses with the question referred to them. It should not be put from young friend to young friend, What would you do in such a case? but, What ought to be done?

How the dear girl blush'd, and how pleased she looked, to be particularly addressed by her guardian!

Lady Gertrude spoke of a certain father, who for interested views obliged his daughter to marry at fifteen, when she was not only indifferent to the man, but had formed no right notions of the state.

And are they not unhappy? ask'd Sir Charles.

They are, reply'd she.

I knew such an instance, returned he. The Lady was handsome, and had her full share of vanity. She believed every man who said civil things to her, was in love with her; and had she been single, that he would have made his addresses to her. She supposed, that she might have had this great man, or that, had she not been precipitated: And this brought her to slight the man who had, as she concluded, deprived her of better offers. They were unhappy to the end of their lives. Had the Lady lived single long enough to find out the difference between compliment and sincerity, and that the man who flattered her vanity, meant no more than to take advantage of her folly, she would have thought herself not unhappy with the very man with whom she was so dissatisfied.

Lady L. speaking afterwards of a certain nobleman, who is continually railing against matrimony, and who makes a very indifferent husband to an obliging wife; I have known more men than one, said Sir Charles, inveigh against matrimony, when the invective would have proceeded with a much better grace from their wives lips than from theirs. But let us enquire, would this complainer have been, or deserved to be happier in any state than he now is?

A state of suffering, said Lady L. had probably humbled the spirits of the poor wives into perfect meekness and patience.

You observe rightly, replied Sir Charles: And surely a most kind disposition of Providence it is, that adversity, so painful in itself, should conduce so peculiarly to the improvement of the human mind. It teaches modesty, humility, and compassion.

You speak feelingly, brother, said Lady L. with a sigh. Do you think, Lucy, nobody sighed but she?

I do, said he. I speak with a sense of gratitude: I am naturally of an imperious spirit: But I have reaped advantages, from the early stroke of a mother's death. Being for years, against my wishes, obliged to submit to a kind of exile from my native country, which I considered as a heavy evil, tho' I thought it my duty to acquiesce, I was determined, as much as my capacity would allow, to make my advantage of the compulsion, by qualifying myself to do credit, rather than discredit, to my father, my friends, and my country. And, let me add, that if I have in any tolerable manner succeeded, I owe much to the example and precepts of my dear Dr. Bartlett.

The doctor blushed and bowed, and was going to disclaim the merit which his patron had ascribed to him; but Sir Charles confirmed it in still stronger terms: You, my dear Dr. Bartlett, said he, as I have told Miss Byron, was a second conscience to me in my earlier youth: Your precepts, your excellent life, your pure manners, your sweetness of temper, could not but open and enlarge my mind. The soil, I hope I may say, was not barren; but you, my dear paternal friend, was the cultivator: I shall ever acknowledge it—And he bowed to the good man; who was covered with modest confusion, and could not look up.

And think you, Lucy, that this acknowledgement lessened the excellent man with any one present? No! It raised him in every eye: And I was the more pleased with it, as it helped me to account for that deep observation, which otherwise one should have been at a loss to account for, in so young a man. And yet I am convinced, that there is hardly a greater difference in intellect between angel and man, than there is between man and man.

Volume IV - lettera 23

Volume IV - Letter 24


Thursday, April 13.

For heaven's sake, my dearest Harriet, dine with us to-day; for two reasons: One relates to myself; the other you shall hear by and-by; To myself, first, as is most fit—This silly creature has offended me, and presumed to be sullen upon my resentment. Married but two days, and show his airs!—Were I in fault, my dear (which, upon my honour, I am not) for the man to lose his patience with me, to forget his obligations to me, in two days!—What an ungrateful wretch is he! What a poor powerless creature your Charlotte!

Nobody knows of the matter, except he has complained to my brother—If he has!—But what if he has?—Alas! my dear, I am married; and cannot help myself.

We seem, however, to be drawing up our forces on both sides.—One struggle for my dying liberty, my dear!—The success of one pitched battle will determine which is to be the general, which the subaltern, for the rest of the campaign. To dare to be sullen already!—As I hope to live, my dear, I was in high good humour within myself; and when he was foolish, only intended a little play with him; and he takes it in earnest. He worships you: So I shall railly him before you: But I charge you, as the man by his sullenness has taken upon him to fight his own battle, either to be on my side, or be silent. I shall take it very ill of my Harriet, if she strengthen his hands.

Well, but enough of this husband—HUSBAND! What a word!—Who do you think is arrived from abroad?—You cannot guess for your life—Lady OLIVIA!—True as you are alive! accompanied, it seems, by an aunt of hers; a widow, whose years and character are to keep the niece in countenance in this excursion. The pretence is, making the tour of Europe: and England was not to be left out of the scheme. My brother is excessively disturbed at her arrival. She came to town but last night. He had notice of it but this morning. He took Emily with him to visit her: Emily was known to her at Florence. She and her aunt are to be here at dinner. As she is come, Sir Charles says, he must bring her acquainted with his Sisters, and their Lords, in order to be at liberty to pursue the measures he has unalterably resolved upon: And this, Harriet, is my second reason for urging you to dine with us.

Now do I wish we had known her history at large. Dr. Bartlett shall tell it us. Unwelcome as she is to my brother, I long to see her. I hope I shall not hear something in her story, that will make me pity her.

Will you come?

I wonder whether she speaks English, or not. I don't think I can converse in Italian.

I won't forgive you, if you refuse to come.

Lady L. and her good man will be here. We shall therefore, if you come, be our whole family together.

My brother has presented this house to me, till his return. He calls himself Lord G.'s guest and mine: So you can have no punctilio about it. Besides, Lord W. will set out to-morrow morning for Windsor. He dotes upon you: And perhaps it is in your power to make a new-married man penitent and polite.

So you must come.

Hang me, if I sign by any other name, while this man is in fits, than that of


Volume IV - lettera 24

Volume IV - Letter 25


Thursday, April 13.

I send you inclosed a Letter I received this morning from Lady G.: I will suppose you have read it.

Emily says, that the meeting between Sir Charles and the Lady mentioned in it, was very polite on both sides: But more cold on his, than on hers. She made some difficulty, however, of dining at his house; and her aunt, Lady Maffei, more. But on Sir Charles's telling them, that he would bring his eldest sister to attend them thither, they complied.

When I went to St. James's Square, Sir Charles and Lady L. were gone in his coach to bring the two Ladies.

Lady G. met me on the stairs-head, leading into her dressing-room. Not a word, said she, of the man's sullens: He repents: A fine figure, as I told him, of a bridegroom, would he make in the eyes of foreign Ladies, at dinner, were he to retain his gloomy airs. He has begged my pardon; as good as promised amendment; and I have forgiven him.

Poor Lord G.! said I.

Hush, hush! He is within: He will hear you: And then perhaps repent of his repentance.

She led me in: My Lord had a glow in his cheeks, and looked as if he had been nettled; and was but just recovering a smile, to help to carry off the petulance. O how saucily did her eyes look! Well, my Lord, said she, I hope—But you say, I misunderstood—

No more, madam, no more, I beseech you—

Well, Sir, not a word more, since you are—

Pray, madam—

Well, well, give me your hand—You must leave Harriet and me together.

She humorously curtsied to him as he bowed to me, taking the compliment as to herself. She nodded her head to him, as he turned back his when he was at the door; and when he was gone, If I can but make this man orderly, said she, I shall not quarrel with my brother for hurrying me, as he has done.

You are wrong, excessively wrong, Charlotte: You call my Lord a silly man, but can have no proof that he is so, but by his bearing this treatment from you.

None of your grave airs, my dear. The man is a good sort of man, and will be so, if you and Lady L. don't spoil him. I have a vast deal of roguery, but no ill-nature, in my heart. There is luxury in jesting with a solemn man, who wants to assume airs of privilege, and thinks he has a right to be impertinent. I'll tell you how I will manage—I believe I shall often try his patience, and when I am conscious that I have gone too far, I will be patient if he is angry with me; so we shall be quits. Then I'll begin again: He will resent: And if I find his aspect very solemn—Come, come, no glouting, friend, I will say, and perhaps smile in his face: I'll play you a tune, or sing you a song—Which, which! Speak in a moment, or the humour will be off.

If he was ready to cry before, he will laugh then, tho' against his will: And as he admires my finger, and my voice, shall we not be instantly friends?

It signified nothing to rave at her: She will have her way. Poor Lord G.!—At my first knowledge of her, I thought her very lively; but imagined not that she was indiscreetly so.

Lord G.'s fondness for his saucy bride was, as I have reason to believe, his fault: I dare not to ask for particulars of their quarrel: And if I had, and found it so, could not, with such a raillying creature, have entered into his defence or censured her.

I went down a few moments before her. Lord G. whispered me, that he should be the happiest man in the world, if I, who had such an influence over her, would stand his friend.

I hope, my Lord, said I, that you will not want any influence but your own. She has a thousand good qualities. She has charming spirits. You will have nothing to bear with but from them. They will not last always. Think only, that she can mean nothing by the exertion of them, but innocent gaiety; and she will every day love your Lordship the better for bearing with her. You know she is generous and noble.

I see, madam, said she, she has let you into—

She has not acquainted me with the particulars of the little misunderstanding; only has said, that there had been a slight one, which was quite made up.

I am ashamed, replied he, to have it thought by Miss Byron, that there could have been a misunderstanding between us, especially so early. She knows her power over me. I am afraid, she despises me.

Impossible, my Lord: Have you not observed, that she spares nobody when she is in a lively humour?

True—But here she comes!—Not a word, madam!—I bowed assenting silence. Lord G. said she, approaching him, in a low voice, I shall be jealous of your conversations with Miss Byron.

Would to heaven, my dearest life, snatching at her withdrawn hand, that—

I were half as good as Miss Byron: I understand you:—But time and patience, Sir; nodding to him, and passing him.

Admirable creature! said he, how I adore her!

I hinted to her afterwards, his fear of her despising him. Harriet, answered she, with a serious air, I will do my duty by him. I will abhor my own heart, if I ever find in it the shadow of a regard for any man in the World, inconsistent with that which he has a right to expect from me.

I was pleased with her. And found an opportunity to communicate what she said, in confidence, to my Lord; and had his blessings for it.

But now for some account of Lady Olivia. With which I will begin a new Letter.

Volume IV - lettera 25

Volume IV - Letter 26


Sir Charles returned with the Ladies. He presented to Lady Olivia and her Aunt, Lady G. Lord L. and Lord W. I was in another apartment talking with Dr. Bartlett. Lady Olivia asked for the doctor. He left me to pay his respects to her. Sir Charles being informed, that I was in the house, told Lady Olivia, that he hoped he should have the honour of presenting to her one of our English beauties; desiring Lady G. to request my company.

Lady G. came to me—A lovely woman, I assure you, Harriet; let me lead you to her. Sir Charles met me at the entrance of the drawing-room: Excuse me, madam, said he, taking my hand, with profound respect, and allow me to introduce to a very amiable Italian Lady one of the loveliest women in Britain; leading me up to her; she advancing towards me. Miss Byron, madam, addressing himself to her, salutes you. Her beauty engages every eye; but that is her least perfection.

Her face glowed. Miss Byron, said she, in French is all loveliness. A relation, Sir? in Italian.

He bowed; but answered not her question.

Her aunt, saluting me, expressed herself in my favour.

I would sooner forgive you here, whispered Lady Olivia to Sir Charles, in Italian, looking at me, than at Bologna.

I heard her; and by my confusion showed that I understood her. She was in confusion too.

Mademoiselle, said she, in French, understands Italian—I am ashamed Monsieur.

Miss Byron does, answered Sir Charles; and French too.

I must have the honour, said she in French, to be better known to you, Mademoiselle.

I answered her as politely as I could in the same language.

Lady OLIVIA is really a lovely woman. Her complexion is fine. Her face oval. Every feature of it is delicate. Her hair is black; and, I think, I never saw brighter black eyes in my life: If possible, they are brighter, and shine with a more piercing lustre, than even Sir Charles Grandison's: But yet I give his the preference; for we see in them a benignity, that hers, tho' a woman's, have not; and a thoughtfulness, as if something lay upon his mind, which nothing but patience could overcome; yet mingled with an air that shows him to be equal to any-thing, that can be undertaken by man. While Olivia's eves show more fire and impetuosity than sweetness. Had I not been told it, I should have been sure that she has a violent spirit: But on the whole, she is a very fine figure of a woman.

She talk'd of taking a house, and staying in England a year at least; and was determined, she said, to perfect herself in the language, and to become an Englishwoman: But when Sir Charles, in the way of discourse, mentioned his obligation to leave England, as on next Saturday morning, how did she and her aunt look upon each other! And how was the sunshine that gilded her fine countenance, shut in! Surely, Sir, said her aunt, you are not in earnest!

After dinner, the two Ladies retired with Sir Charles, at his motion. Dr. Bartlett, at Lady G.'s request, then gave us this short sketch of her history: He said, She had a vast fortune: She had had indiscretions; but none that had affected her character as to virtue: But her spirit could not bear control. She had shown herself to be vindictive, even to a criminal degree. Lord bless me, my dear, the doctor has mentioned to me in confidence, that she always carries a poniard about her; and that once she used it. Had the person died, she would have been called to public account for it. The man, it seems, was of rank, and offered some slight affront to her. She now comes over, the doctor said, as he had reason to believe, with a resolution to sacrifice even her religion, if it were insisted upon, to the passion she had so long in vain endeavoured to conquer.

She has, he says, an utter hatred to Lady Clementina; and will not be able to govern her passion, he is sure, when Sir Charles shall acquaint her, that he is going to attend that Lady, and her family: For he has only mentioned his obligation to go abroad; but not said whither.

Lord W. praised the person of the Lady, and her majestic air. Lord L. and Lord G. wish'd to be within hearing of the conference between her and Sir Charles: So did Lady G.: And while they were thus wishing, in came Sir Charles, his face all in a glow; Lady L. said he, be so good as to attend Lady Olivia.

She went to her. Sir Charles stayed not with us: Yet went not to the Lady; but into his Study. Dr. Bartlett attended him there: The doctor returned soon after to us. His noble heart is vexed, said he: Lady Olivia has greatly disturbed him: He chooses to be alone.

Lady L. afterwards told us, that she found the Lady in violent anguish of spirit; her aunt endeavouring to calm her: She, however, politely addressed herself to Lady L. and, begging her aunt to withdraw for a few moments, she owned to her, in French her passion for her brother: She was not, she said, ashamed to own it to his sister, who must know that his merit would dignify the passion of the noblest woman. She had endeavoured, she said, to conquer hers: She had been willing to give way to the prior attachments that he had pleaded for a Lady of her own country Signora Clementina della Porretta, whom she allowed to have had great merit; but who, having irrecoverably been put out of her right mind, was shut up at Naples by a brother, who vowed eternal enmity to Sir Charles; and from whom his life would be in the utmost hazard, if he went over. She owned, that her chief motive for coming to England was, to cast her fortune at her brother's feet; and as she knew him to be a man of honour, to comply with any terms he should propose to her. He had offered to the family della Porretta to allow their daughter her religion, and her confessor, and to live with her every other year in Italy. She herself, not inferior in birth, in person, in mind, as she said, she presumed, and superior in fortune, the riches of three branches of her family, all rich, having centred in her, insisted not now upon such conditions. Her aunt, she said, knew not that she proposed, on conviction, a change of her religion; but she was resolved not to conceal any-thing from Lady L. She left her to judge how much she must be affected, when he declared his obligation to leave England; and especially when he owned, that it was to go to Bologna, and that so suddenly, as if, as she apprehended at first, it was to avoid her. She had been in tears, she said, and even would have kneeled to him, to induce him to suspend his journey for one month and then to have taken her over with him, and seen her safe in her own palace. if he would go upon so hated, and so fruitless, as well as so hazardous an errand: But he had denied her this poor favour.

This refusal, she owned, had put her out of all patience. She was unhappily passionate; but was the most placable of her Sex. What, madam, said she, can affect a woman, if slight, indignity, and repulse, from a favoured person, is not able to do it? A woman of my condition to come over to England, to solicit—how can I support the thought—and to be refused the protection of the man she prefers to all men; and her request to see her safe back again, tho' but as the fool she came over—You may blame me, madam—but you must pity me, even were you to have a heart the sister-heart of your inflexible brother's.

In vain did Lady L. plead to her Lady Clementina's deplorable situation; the reluctance of his own relations to part with him; and the magnanimity of his self-denial in an hundred instances, on the bare possibility of being an instrument to restore her: She could not bear to hear her speak highly of the unhappy Lady. She charged Clementina with the pride of her family, to which she attributed their deserved calamity [Deserved! Cruel Lady! How could her pitiless heart allow her lips to utter such a word!]; and imputed meanness to the noblest of human minds, for yielding to the entreaties of a family, some of the principals of which, she said, had treated him with an arrogance that a man of his spirit ought not to bear.

Lady Maffei came in. She seems dependent upon her niece. She is her aunt by marriage only: And Lady L. speaks very favourably of her from the advice she gave, and her remonstrances to her kinswoman. Lady Maffei besought her to compose herself, and return to the company.

She could not bear, she said, to return to the company, the slighted, the contemned object, she must appear to be to every one in it. I am an intruder, said she, haughtily; a beggar with a fortune that would purchase a Sovereignty in some countries. Make my excuses to your sister, to the rest of the company—and to that fine young Lady—whose eyes, by their officious withdrawing from his, and by the consciousness that glowed in her face whenever he addressed her, betrayed, at least to a jealous eye, more than she would wish to have seen—But tell her, that all lovely and blooming as she is, she must have no hope, while Clementina lives.

I hope, Lucy, it is only to a jealous eye that my heart is so discoverable!—I thank her for her caution. But I can say what she cannot; that from my heart, cost me what it may, I do subscribe to a preference in favour of a Lady who has acted, in the most arduous trials, in a greater manner than I fear either Olivia or I could have acted, in the same circumstances. We see that her reason, but not her piety, deserted her in the noble struggle between her Love and her Religion. In the most affecting absences of her reason the Soul of the man she loved was the object of her passion. However hard it is to prefer another to one's self, in such a case as this; yet if my judgment is convinced, my acknowledgement shall follow it. Heaven will enable me to be reconciled to the event, because I pursue the dictates of that judgment, against the biasses of my more partial heart. Let that Heaven, which only can, restore Clementina, and dispose as it pleases of Olivia and Harriet. We cannot either of us, I humbly hope, be so unhappy as the Lady has been whom I rank among the first of women; and whose whole family deserves almost equal compassion.

Lady Olivia asked Lady L. If her brother had not a very tender regard for me? He had, Lady L. answered; and told her, that he had rescued me from a very great distress; and that mine was the most grateful of human hearts.

She called me sweet young creature (supposing me, I doubt not, younger than I am); but said, that the graces of my person and mind alarmed her not, as they would have done, had not his attachment to Clementina been what now she saw, but never could have believed it was; having supposed, that compassion only was the tie that bound him to her.

But compassion, Lucy, from such a heart as his, the merit so great in the Lady, must be Love; a Love of the nobler kind—And if it were not, it would be unworthy of Clementina's.

Lady Maffei called upon her dignity, her birth, to carry her above a passion that met not with a grateful return. She advised her to dispose herself to stay in England some months, now she was here. And as her friends in Italy would suppose what her view was in coming to England, their censures would be obviated by here continuing here for some time, while Sir Charles was abroad, and in Italy: And that she should divert herself with visiting the court, the public places, and in seeing the principal curiosities of this kingdom as she had done those of others; in order to give credit to an excursion that might otherwise be freely spoken of, in her own country.

She seemed to listen to this advice. She bespoke, and was promised, the friendship of the two sisters; and included in her request, through their interests, mine; and Lady G. was called in, by her sister, to join in the promise.

She desired that Sir Charles might be requested to walk in; but would not suffer the sisters to withdraw as they would have done, when he returned. He could not but be polite; but, it seems, looked still disturbed. I beg you to excuse, Sir, said she, my behaviour to you: It was passionate; it was unbecoming. But, in compliment to your own consequence, you ought to excuse it. I have only to request one favour of you: That you will suspend for one week, in regard to me, your proposed journey; but for one week; and I will, now I am in England, stay some months; perhaps till your return.

Excuse me, madam.

I will not excuse you—But one week, Sir. Give me so much importance with myself, as for one week's suspension. You will. You must.

Indeed I cannot. My Soul, I own to you, is in the distresses of the family of Porretta. Why should I repeat what I said to you before?

I have bespoken, Sir, the civilities of your sisters, of your family: You forbid them not?

You expect not an answer, madam, to that question. My sisters will be glad, and so will their Lords, to attend you wherever you please, with a hope to make England agreeable to you.

How long do you propose to stay in Italy, Sir?

It is not possible for me to determine.

Are you not apprehensive of danger to your person?

I am not.

You ought to be.

No danger shall deter me from doing what I think to be right. If my motives justify me, I cannot fear.

Do you wish me, Sir, to stay in England till your return?

A question so home put, disturbed him. Was it a prudent one in the Lady? It must either subject her to a repulse; or him, by a polite answer, to give her hope, that her stay in England might not be fruitless, as to the view she had in coming. He reddened. It is fit, answered he, that your own pleasure should determine you. It did, pardon me, madam, in your journey hither.

She reddened to her very ears. Your brother, Ladies, has the reputation of being a polite man: Bear witness to this instance of it. I am ashamed of myself!

If I am unpolite, madam, my sincerity will be my excuse; at least to my own heart.

O that inflexible heart! But, Ladies, if the inhospitable Englishman refuse his protection in his own country, to a foreign woman, of no mean quality; Do not you, his sisters, despise her.

They, madam, and their Lords, will render you every cheerful service. Let me request you, my sisters, to make England as agreeable as possible to this Lady. She is of the first consideration in her own country: She will be of such wherever she goes. My Lady Maffei deserves likewise your utmost respect. Then addressing himself to them; Ladies, said he, encourage my sisters: They will think themselves honoured by your commands.

The two sisters confirmed, in an obliging manner, what their brother had said; and both Ladies acknowledged themselves indebted to them for their offered friendship: But Lady Olivia seemed not at all satisfied with her brother: And it was with some difficulty he prevailed on her to return to the company, and drink coffee.

I could not help reflecting, on occasion of this Lady's conduct, that fathers and mothers are great blessings, to daughters, in particular, even when women grown. It is not every woman that will shine in a state of independency. Great fortunes are snares. If independent women escape the machinations of men, which they have often a difficulty to do, they will frequently be hurried by their own imaginations, which are said to be livelier than those of men, tho' their judgments are supposed less, into inconveniencies. Had Lady Olivia's parents or uncles lived, she hardly would have been permitted to make the tour of Europe: And not having so great a fortune to support vagaries, would have shone, as she is well qualified to do, in a dependent state, in Italy, and made some worthy man and herself happy.

Had she a mind great enough to induce her to pity Clementina, I should have been apt to pity her; for I saw her soul was disturbed. I saw that the man she loved was not able to return her Love: A pitiable case! I saw a starting tear now-and-then with difficulty dispersed. Once she rubbed her eye, and, being conscious of observation, said something had got into it: So it had. The something was a tear. Yet she looked with haughtiness, and her bosom swelled with indignation ill concealed.

Sir Charles repeated his recommendation of her to Lord L. and Lord G. They offered their best services: Lord W. invited her and all of us to Windsor. Different parties of pleasure were talked of: But still the Enlivener of every party was not to be in any one of them. She tried to look pleased; but did not always succeed in the trial: An eye of Love and Anger mingled was often cast upon the man whom every-body loved. Her bosom heaved, as it seemed sometimes, with indignation against herself: That was the construction which I made of some of her looks.

Lady Maffei, however, seemed pleased with the parties of pleasure talked of: She often directed herself to me in Italian. I answered her in it as well as I could. I do not talk it well: But as I am not an Italian, and little more than book-learned in it (for it is a long time ago since I lost my grandpapa, who used to converse with me in it, and in French) I was not scrupulous to answer in it. To have forborne, because I did not excel in what I had no opportunity to excel in, would have been false modesty, nearly bordering upon pride. Were any Lady to laugh at me for not speaking well her native tongue, I would not return the smile, were she to be less perfect in mine, than I am in hers. But Lady Olivia made me a compliment on my faulty accent, when I acknowledged it to be so. Signora, said she, you show us, that a pretty mouth can give beauty to a defect. A master teaching you, added she, would perhaps find some fault; but a friend conversing with you, must be in love with you for the very imperfection.

Sir Charles was generously pleased with the compliment, and made her a fine one on her observation.

He attended the two Ladies to their lodgings in his coach. He owned to Dr. Bartlett, that Lady Olivia was in tears all the way, lamenting her disgrace in coming to England, just as he was quitting it; and wishing she had stay'd at Florence. She would have engaged him to correspond with her: He excused himself. It was a very afflicting thing to him, he told the doctor, to deny any request that was made to him, especially by a Lady: But he thought he ought in conscience and honour to forbear giving the shadow of an expectation that might be improved into hope, where none was intended to be given. Heaven, he said, had, for laudable ends, implanted such a regard in the Sexes towards each other, that both man and woman who hoped to be innocent, could not be too circumspect in relation to the friendships they were so ready to contract with each other. He thought he had gone a great way, in recommending an intimacy between her and his sisters, considering her views, her spirit, her perseverance, and the free avowal of her regard for him, and her menaces on his supposed neglect of her. And yet, as she had come over, and he was obliged to leave England so soon after her arrival; he thought he could not do less: And he hoped his sisters, from whose examples she might be benefited, would, while she behaved prudently, cultivate her acquaintance.

The doctor tells me, that now Lady Olivia is so unexpectedly come hither in person, he thinks it best to decline giving me, as he had once intended, her history at large; but will leave so much of it as may satisfy my curiosity, to be gathered from my own observation; and not only from the violence and haughtiness of her temper, but from the freedom of her declarations. He is sure, he said, that his patron will be best pleased, that a veil should be thrown over the weaker part of her conduct; which, were it known, would indeed be glorious to Sir Charles, but not so to the Lady; who, however, never was suspected, even by her enemies, of giving any other man reason to tax her with a thought that was not strictly virtuous: And she had engaged his Piety and Esteem, for the sake of her other fine qualities, tho' she could not his Love. Before she saw him (which, it seems, was at the opera at Florence for the first time, when he had an opportunity to pay her some slight civilities) she set all men at defiance.

To-morrow morning Sir Charles is to breakfast with me. My cousins and I are to dine at Lord L's. The Earl and Lady Gertrude are also to be there. Lord W. has been prevailed upon to stay, and be there also, as it is his nephew's last day in England.—'Last day in England!' O my Lucy! What words are those!—Lady L. has invited Lady Olivia and her aunt, at her own motion, Sir Charles (his time being so short) not disapproving.

I thank my grandmamma and aunt for their kind summons. I will soon set may day: I will, my dear, soon set my day.

Volume IV - lettera 26

Volume IV - Letter 27


Friday Noon, Apr. 14.

Not five hours in bed; not one hour's rest, for many uneasy nights before. I was stupid till Sir Charles came: I then was better. He enquired, with tender looks and voice, after my health; as if he thought I did not look well.

We had some talk about Lord and Lady G. He was anxious for their happiness. He complimented me with hopes from my advice to her. Lord G. he said, was a good-natured honest man. If he thought his sister would make him unhappy, he should himself be so.

I told him, that I dared to answer for her heart. My Lord must bear with some innocent foibles, and all would be well.

We then talked of Lady Olivia. He began the subject, by asking me my opinion of her. I said she was a very fine woman in her person; and that she had an air of grandeur in her mien.

And she has good qualities, said he; but she is violent in her passions. I am frequently grieved for her. She is a fine creature in danger of being lost, by being made too soon her own mistress.

He said not one word of his departure to-morrow morning: I could nor begin it; my heart would not let me; my spirits were not high: And I am afraid, if that key had been touched, I should have been too visibly affected. My cousins forbore, upon the same apprehension.

He was excessively tender and soothing to me, in his air, his voice, his manner. I thought of what Emily said; that his voice, when he spoke of me, was the voice of Love. Dear flattering girl!—But why did she flatter me?

We talked of her next. He spoke of her with the tenderness of a father. He besought me to love her. He praised her heart.

Emily, said I, venerates her guardian. She never will do any-thing contrary to his advice.

She is very young, replied he. She will be happy, madam, in yours. She both loves and reverences you.

I greatly love the dear Emily, Sir. She and I shall be always sisters.

How happy am I, in your goodness to her! Permit me, madam, to enumerate to you my own felicities in that of my dearest friends.

Mr. Beauchamp is now in the agreeable situation I have long wished him to be in. His prudence and obliging behaviour to his mother-in-law, have won her. His father grants him every-thing through her; and she, by this means, finds that power enlarged which she was afraid would be lessened, if the son were allowed to come over. How just is this reward of his filial duty!

Thus, Lucy, did he give up the merit to his Beauchamp, which was solely due to himself.

Lord W. he hoped, would be soon one of the happiest men in England: And the whole Mansfield family had now fair prospects opening before them.

Emily [Not he, you see] had made it the interest of her mother to be quiet.

Lord and Lady L. gave him pleasure whenever he saw them, or thought of them.

Dr. Bartlett was in Heaven while on earth. He would retire to his beloved Grandison-hall, and employ himself in distributing, as objects offered, at least a thousand pounds of the three thousand bequeathed to charitable uses by his late friend Mr. Danby. His sister's fortune was paid. His estates in both kingdoms were improving—See, madam, said he, how like the friend of my Soul I claim your attention to affairs that are of consequence to myself; and in some of which your generosity of heart has interested you.

I bowed. Had I spoken, I had burst into tears. I had something arose in my throat, I know not what. Still, thought I, excellent man, you are not yourself happy!—O pity! pity! Yet, Lucy, he plainly had been enumerating all these things, to take off from my mind that impression which I am afraid he too well knows it is affected with, from his difficult situation.

And now, madam, resumed he, how are all my dear and good friends, whom you more particularly call yours?—I hope to have the honour of a personal knowledge of them. When heard you from our good Mr. Deane? He is well, I hope.

Very well, Sir.

Your grandmamma Shirley, that ornament of advanced years?

I bowed: I dared not trust to my voice.

Your excellent aunt Selby?

I bowed again.

Your uncle, your Lucy, your Nancy: Happy family! All harmony! all love!—How do they?

I wiped my eyes.

Is there any service in my power to do them, or any of them? Command me, good Miss Byron, if there be: My Lord W. and I are one. Our Influence is not small.—Make me still more happy, in the power of serving any one favoured by you.

You oppress me, Sir, by your goodness!—I cannot speak my grateful sensibilities.

Will you, my dear Mr. Reeves, Will you, madam, (to my cousin) employ me in any way that I can be of use to you, either abroad or at home? Your acquaintance has given me great pleasure. To what a family of worthies has this excellent young Lady introduced me!

O Sir! said Mrs. Reeves, tears running down her cheeks, that you were not to leave people whom you have made so happy in the knowledge of the best of men!

Indispensable calls must be obeyed, my dear Mrs. Reeves. If we cannot be as happy as we wish, we will rejoice in the happiness we can have. We must not be our own carvers.—But I make you all serious. I was enumerating, as I told you, my present felicities: I was rejoicing in your friendships. I have joy; and, I presume to say, I will have joy. There is a bright side in every event; I will not lose sight of it: And there is a dark one; but I will endeavour to see it only with the eye of prudence, that I may not be involved by it at unawares. Who that is not reproached by his own heart, and is blessed with health, can grieve for inevitable evils; evils that can be only evils as we make them so? Forgive my seriousness: My dear friends, you make me grave. Favour me, I beseech you, my good Miss Byron, with one lesson: We shall be too much engaged, perhaps, by-and-by.

He led me (I thought it was with a cheerful air; but my cousins both say, his eyes glistened) to the harpsichord: He sung unasked, but with a low voice; and my mind was calmed. O Lucy! How can I part with such a man? How can I take my leave of him?—But perhaps he has taken his leave of me already, as to the solemnity of it, in the manner I have recited.

Volume IV - lettera 27

Volume IV - Letter 28


Saturday Morning, Apr. 15.

O Lucy, Sir Charles Grandison is gone! Gone indeed! He set out at three this morning; on purpose, no doubt, to spare his sisters, and the two brothers-in-law, and Lord W. as well as himself, concern. We broke not up till after two. Were I in the writing humour which I have never known to fail me till now, I could dwell upon an hundred things, some of which I can now only briefly mention.

Dinner-time yesterday passed with tolerable cheerfulness: Every one tried to be cheerful. O what pain attends loving too well, and being too well beloved! He must have pain, as well as we.

Lady Olivia was the most thoughtful, at dinnertime; yet poor Emily! Ah the poor Emily! she went out four or five times to weep; tho' only I perceived it.

Nobody was cheerful after dinner but Sir Charles. He seemed to exert himself to be so. He prevailed on me to give them a lesson on the harpsichord. Lady L. played: Lady G. played: We tried to play, I should rather say. He himself took the violin, and afterwards sat down to the harpsichord, for one short lesson. He was not known to be such a master: But he was long in Italy. Lady Olivia indeed knew him to be so. She was induced to play upon the harpsichord: She surpassed every-body. Italy is the land of harmony.

About seven at night he singled me out, and surprised me greatly by what he said. He told me, that Lady D. had made him a visit. I was before low: I was then ready to sink. She has asked me questions, madam.

Sir, Sir! was all I could say.

He himself trembled as he spoke—Alas! my dear, he surely loves me! Hear how solemnly he spoke—God Almighty be your director, my dear Miss Byron! I wish not more happiness to my own Soul, than I do to you.—In discharge of a promise made, I mention this visit to you: I might otherwise have spared you, and myself—

He stopped there—Then resumed; for I was silent—I could not speak—Your friends will be entreated for a man that loves you; a very worthy young nobleman.—I give you emotion, madam.—Forgive me.—I have performed my promise. He turned from me with a seeming cheerful air. How could he appear to be cheerful!

We made parties at cards. I knew not what I played. Emily sighed, and tears stole down her cheeks, as she played. O how she loves her guardian! Emily, I say—I don't know what I write!

At supper we were all very melancholy. Mr. Beauchamp was urgent to go abroad with him. He changed the subject, and gave him an indirect denial, as I may call it, by recommending the two Italian Ladies to his best services.

Sir Charles, kind, good, excellent! wished to Lord L. to have seen Mr. Grandison!—Unworthy as that man has made himself of his attention.

He was a few moments in private with Lady Olivia. She returned to company with red eyes.

Poor Emily watched an opportunity to be spoken to by him alone—So diligently! He led her to the window—About one o' clock it was—He held both her hands. He called her, she says, his Emily. He charged her to write to him.

She could not speak; she could only sob; yet thought she had a thousand things to say to him.

He contradicted not the hope his sisters and their Lords had of his breakfasting with them. They invited me; they invited the Italian Ladies: Lady L. Lord L. did go, in expectation: But Lady G. when she found him gone, sent me and the Italian Ladies word, that he was. It would have been cruel, if she had not. How could he steal away so! I find, that he intended that his morning visit to me (as indeed I half suspected) should be a taking leave of my cousins, and your Harriet. How many things did he say then—How many questions ask—In tender woe—He wanted to do us all service—He seemed not to know what to say—Surely he hates not your poor Harriet—What struggles in his noble bosom!—But a man cannot complain: A man cannot ask for compassion, as a woman can. But surely his is the gentlest of manly minds!

When we broke up, he handed my cousin Reeves into her coach. He handed me. Mr. Reeves said, We see you again, Sir Charles, in the morning? He bowed. At handing me in, he sighed—He pressed my hand—I think he did—That was all—He saluted nobody.—He will not meet his Clementina as he parted with us.

But, I doubt not, Dr. Bartlett was in the secret.

* *

He was. He has just been here. He found my eyes swelled. I had had no rest; yet knew not, till seven o'clock, that he was gone.

It was very good of the doctor to come: His visit soothed me: Yet he took no notice of my red eyes. Nay, for that matter, Mrs. Reeves's eyes were swelled, as well as mine. Angel of a man! How is he beloved!

The doctor says, that his Sisters, their Lords, Lord W. are in as much grief as if he were departed for ever—And who knows—But I will not torment my self with supposing the worst: I will endeavour to bear in mind what he said yesterday morning to us, no doubt for an instruction, that he would have joy.

And did he then think that I should be so much grieved as to want such an instruction?—And therefore did he vouchsafe to give it?—But, vanity, be quiet—Lie down, hope—Hopelessness, take place!—Clementina shall be his. He shall be hers.

Yet his emotion, Lucy, at mentioning Lady D.'s visit—O! but that was only owing to his humanity. He saw my emotion; and acknowledged the tenderest friendship for me! Ought I not to be satisfied with that? I am. I will be satisfied. Does he not love me with the love of mind? The poor Olivia has not this to comfort herself with. The poor Olivia! If I see her sad and afflicted, how I shall pity her! All her expectations frustrated; the expectations that engaged her to combat difficulties, to travel, to cross many waters, and to come to England—to come just time enough to take leave of him; he hastening on the wings of Love and Compassion to a dearer, a deservedly dearer object, in the country she had quitted, on purpose to visit him in his—Is not hers a more grievous situation than mine?—It is. Why, then, do I lament.?

But here, Lucy, let me in confidence hint, what I have gathered from several intimations from Dr. Bartlett, tho' as tenderly made by him as possible, that had Sir Charles Grandison been a man capable of taking advantage of the violence of a Lady's passion for him, the unhappy Olivia would not have scrupled, great, haughty, and noble as she is, by birth and fortune, to have been his, without conditions, if she could not have been so with: The Italian world is of this opinion, at least. Had Sir Charles been a Rinaldo, Olivia had been an Armida.

O that I could hope, for the honour of the Sex, and of the Lady who is so fine a woman, that the Italian world is mistaken!—I will presume that it is.

My good Dr. Bartlett, will you allow me to accuse you of a virtue too rigorous? That is sometimes the fault of very good people. You own that Sir Charles has not, even to you, revealed a secret so disgraceful to her. You own, that he has only blamed her for having too little regard for her reputation, and for the violence of her temper: Yet how patiently, for one of such a temper, has she taken his departure, almost on the day of her arrival! He could not have given her an opportunity to indicate to him a concession so criminal: She could not, if he had, have made the overture. Wicked, wicked world! I will not believe you! And the less credit shall you have with me, Italian world, as I have seen the Lady. The innocent heart will be a charitable one. Lady Olivia is only too intrepid. Prosperity, as Sir Charles observed, has been a snare to her, and set her above a proper regard to her reputation.—Merciless world! I do not love you. Dear Dr. Bartlett, you are not yet absolutely perfect! These hints of yours against Olivia, gathered from the malevolence of the envious, are proofs (the first indeed, that I have ever met with) of your imperfection.

Excuse me, Lucy: How have I run on! Disappointment has mortified me, and made me good-natured.—I will welcome adversity, if it enlarge my charity.

The doctor tells me, that Emily, with her half-broken heart, will be here presently. If I can be of comfort to her—But I want it myself, from the same cause. We shall only weep over each other.

As I told you, the doctor, and the doctor only, knew of his setting out so early. He took leave of him. Happy Dr. Bartlett!—Yet I see by his eyes, that this parting cost him some paternal tears.

Never father better loved a son than this good man loves Sir Charles Grandison.

Sir Charles, it seems, had settled all his affairs three days before. His servants were appointed. Richard Saunders is one of the three he has taken with him. Happy servants! to be every day in the presence of such a master.

The doctor tells me, that he had last week presented the elder Mr. Oldham with a pair of Colours, which he had purchased for him. Nobody had heard of this.

Lord W. he says, is preparing for Windsor; Mr. Beauchamp for Hampshire, for a few days; and then he returns to attend the commands of the noble Italians. Lady Olivia will soon have her equipage ready. She will make a great appearance. But Sir CHARLES GRANDISON will not be with her. What is grandeur to a disturbed heart? The Earl of G. and Lady Gertrude are setting out for Hertfordshire. Lord and Lady L. talk of retiring, for a few weeks, to Colnebrooke: The Doctor is preparing for Grandison-hall; your poor Harriet for Northamptonshire—Bless me, my dear, what a dispersion!—But Lord W.'s nuptials will collect some of them together at Windsor.

* *

Emily, the dear weeping girl! is just come. She is with my cousins. She expects my permission for coming up to me. Imagine us weeping over each other; praying for, blessing the guardian of us both. Your imagination cannot form a scene too tender. Adieu, my Lucy.

Volume IV - lettera 28

Volume IV - Letter 29


Sunday, April 16.

O what a blank, my dear!—But I need not say what I was going to say. Poor Emily!—But to mention her grief, is to paint my own.

Lord W. went to Windsor Yesterday.

A very odd behaviour of Lady Olivia. Mr. Beauchamp went yesterday, and offered to attend her to any of the public places, at her pleasure; in pursuance of Sir Charles's reference to him, to do all in his power to make England agreeable to her: And she thought fit to tell him before her aunt, that she thanked him for his civility; but she should not trouble him during her stay in England. She had gentlemen in her train; and one of them had been in England before—He left her in disgust.

Lady L. making her a visit in the evening, she told her of Mr. Beauchamp's offer, and of her answer. The gentleman, said she, is a polite and very agreeable man; and this made me treat his kind offer with abruptness: For I can hardly doubt your brother's view in it. I scorn his view: And if I were sure of it, perhaps I should find a way to make him repent of the Indignity. Lady L. was sure, she said, that neither her brother, nor Mr. Beauchamp, had any other views than to make England as agreeable to her as possible.

Be this as it may, madam, said she, I have no service for Mr. Beauchamp: But if your Ladyship, your sister, and your two Lords, will allow me to cultivate your friendship, you will do me honour. Dr. Bartlett's company will be very agreeable to me likewise, as often as he will give it me. To Miss Jervois I lay some little claim. I would have had her for my companion in Italy; but your cruel brother—No more, however, of him. Your English beauty too, I admire her: But, poor young creature, I admire her the more, because I can pity her. I should think myself very happy to be better acquainted with her.

Lady L. made her a very polite answer for herself and her sister, and their Lords: But told her, that I was very soon to set out for my own abode in Northamptonshire; and that Dr. Bartlett had some commissions, which would oblige him, in a day or two, to go to Sir Charles's seat in the country. She herself offered to attend her to Windsor, and to every other place, at her command.

* *

Lady L. took notice of her wrist being bound round with a broad black ribband, and asked, If it were hurt? A kind of sprain, said she. But you little imagine how it came; and must not ask.

This made Lady L. curious. And Olivia requesting that Emily might be allowed to breakfast with her as this morning; she has bid the dear girl endeavour to know how it came, if it fell in her way: For Olivia reddened, and looked up, with a kind of consciousness, to Lady L. when she told her that she must not ask questions about it.

Lady G. is very earnest with me to give into the town-diversions for a month to come: But I have now no desire in my heart so strong, as to throw myself at the feet of my grandmamma and aunt; and to be embraced by my Lucy and Nancy, and all my Northamptonshire Loves. I am only afraid of my uncle. He will railly his Harriet; yet only, I know, in hopes to divert her, and us all: But my jesting days are over: My situation will not bear it. Yet if it will divert himself, let him railly.

I shall be so much importuned to stay longer than I ought, or will stay, that I may as well fix a peremptory day at once. Will you, my ever indulgent friends, allow me to set out for Selby-house on Friday next? Not on a Sunday, as Lady Betty Williams advises, for fear of the odious waggons. But I have been in a different school. Sir Charles Grandison, I find, makes it a tacit rule with him, Never to begin a journey on a Sunday; nor, except when in pursuit of works of mercy or necessity, to travel in time of Divine Service. And this rule he observed last Sunday, tho' he reached us here in the evening. O my grandmamma! How much is he, what you all are, and ever have been!—But he is now pursuing a work of mercy. God succeed to him the end of his pursuit!

But why tacit? you will ask. Is Sir Charles Grandison ashamed to make an open appearance in behalf of his Christian duties? He is not. For instance; I have never seen him sit down at his own table, in the absence of Dr. Bartlett, or some other clergyman, but he himself says grace; and that with such an easy dignity, as commands every one's reverence; and which is succeeded by a cheerfulness that looks as if he were the better pleased for having shown a thankful heart.

Dr. Bartlett has also told me, that he begins and ends every day, either in his Chamber, or in his Study, in a manner worthy of one who is in earnest in his Christian profession. But he never frights gay company with grave maxims. I remember, one day, Mr. Grandison asked him, in his absurd way, Why he did not preach to his Company now-and-then? Faith, Sir Charles, said he, if you did, you would reform many a poor ignorant sinner of us; since you could do it with more weight, and more certainty of attention, than any parson in Christendom.

It would be an affront, said Sir Charles, to the understanding, as well as education, of a man who took rank above a peasant, in such a country as this, to seem to question whether he knew his general duties, or not, and the necessity of practising what he knew of them. If he should be at a loss, he may once a week be reminded, and his heart kept warm. Let you and me, cousin Everard, show our conviction by our practice; and not invade the clergyman's province.

I remember, that Mr. Grandison showed his conviction by his blushes; and by repeating the three little words, You and me! Sir Charles.

Sunday Evening.

O my dear friends! I have a strange, a shocking piece of intelligence to give you! Emily has just been with me in tears: She begged to speak with me in private. When we were alone, she threw her arms about my neck: Ah, madam! said she, I am come to tell you, that there is a person in the world that I hate, and must and will hate, as long as I live. It is Lady Olivia.—Take me down with you into Northamptonshire, and never let me see her more.

I was surprised.

O madam! I have found out, that she would, on Thursday last, have killed my guardian.

I was astonished, Lucy.

They retired together, you know, madam: My guardian came from her, his face in a glow; and he sent in his sister to her, and went not in himself till afterwards. She would have had him put off his journey. She was enraged because he would not; and they were high together; and at last she pulled out of her stays, in fury, a poniard, and vowed to plunge it into his heart. He should never, she said, see his Clementina more. He went to her. Her heart failed her. Well it might, you know, madam. He seized her hand. He took it from her. She struggled, and in struggling her wrist was hurt; that's the meaning of the broad black ribband!—Wicked creature! to have such a thought in her heart!—He only said, when he had got it from her, Unhappy, violent woman! I return not this instrument of mischief! You will have no use for it in England—And would not let her have it again.

I shuddered. O my dear, said I, he has been a sufferer, we are told, by good women; but this is not a good woman. But can it be true? Who informed you of it?

Lady Maffei herself. She thought that Sir Charles must have spoken of it: And when she found he had not, she was sorry she had, and begged I would not tell any-body: But I could not keep it from you. And she says, that Lady Olivia is grieved on the remembrance of it; and arraigns herself, and her wicked passion; and the more, for his noble forgiveness of her on the spot, and recommending her afterwards to the civilities of his sisters, and their Lords. But I hate her, for all that.

Poor unhappy Olivia! said I. But what, my Emily, are we women, who should be the meekest and tenderest of the whole animal creation, when we give way to passion! But if she is so penitent, let not the shocking attempt be known to his sisters, or their Lords. I may take the liberty of mentioning it, in strict confidence [Observe that, Lucy] to those from whom I keep not any secret: But let it not be divulged to any of the relations of Sir Charles. Their detestation of her, which must follow, would not be concealed; and the unhappy creature, made desperate, might—Who knows what she might do?

The dear girl ran on upon what might have been the consequence, and what a loss the world would have had, if the horrid fact had been perpetrated. Lady Maffei told her, however, that had not her heart relented, she might have done him mischief; for he was too rash in approaching her. She fell down on her knees to him, as soon as he had wrested the poniard from her. I forgive, and pity you, madam, said he, with an air that had, as Olivia and her aunt have recollected since, both majesty and compassion in it: But he would withdraw. Yet, at her request, sent in Lady L. to her; and, going into his Study, told not even Dr. Bartlett of it, tho' he went to him there immediately.

From the consciousness of this violence, perhaps, the Lady was more temperate afterwards, even to the very time of his departure.

* *

Lord bless me, What shall I do? Lady D. has sent a card to let me know, that she will wait upon Mrs. Reeves and me to-morrow to breakfast. She comes, no doubt, to tell me, that Sir Charles having no thoughts of Harriet Byron, Lord D. may have hopes of succeeding with her: And perhaps her Ladyship will plead Sir Charles's recommendation and interest in Lord D's favour. But should this plea be made, good Heaven give me patience! I am afraid I shall be uncivil to this excellent woman.

Volume IV - lettera 29

Volume IV - Letter 30


Monday, April 17.

The Countess is just gone.

Mr. Reeves was engaged before to breakfast with Lady Betty Williams; and we were only Mrs. Reeves, Lady D. and I.

My heart ached at her entrance; and every moment still more, as we were at breakfast. Her looks, I thought, had such particular kindness and meaning in them, as seemed to express, 'You have no hopes, Miss Byron, any-where else; and I will have you to be mine.'

But my suspense was over the moment the tea-table was removed. I see your confusion, my dear, said the Countess [Mrs. Reeves, you must not leave us]; and I have sat in pain for you, as I saw it increase. By this I know that Sir Charles Grandison has been as good as his word. Indeed I doubted not but he would. I don't wonder, my dear, that you love him. He is the finest man in his manners, as well as person, that I ever saw. A woman of virtue and honour cannot but love him. But I need not praise him to you; nor to you, neither, Mrs. Reeves; I see that.

Now you must know, proceeded she, that there is an alliance proposed for my son, of which I think very well; but still should have thought better, had I never seen you, my dear. I have talked to my Lord about it: You know I am very desirous to have him married. His answer was; I never can think of any proposal of this nature, while I have any hope that I can make myself acceptable to Miss Byron.

What think you, my Lord, said I, if I should directly apply to Sir Charles Grandison, to know his intentions; and whether he has any hopes of obtaining her favour? He is said to be the most unreserved of men. He knows our characters to be as unexceptionable as his own; and that our alliance cannot be thought a discredit to the first family in the kingdom. It is a free question, I own; as I am unacquainted with him by person: But he is such a man, that methinks I can take pleasure in addressing myself to him on any subject.

My Lord smiled at the freedom of my motion; but not disapproving it, I directly went to Sir Charles, and, after due compliments, told him my business.

The Countess stopped. She is very penetrating. She looked at us both.

Well, madam, said my cousin, with an air of curiosity—Pray, your Ladyship—

I could not speak for very impatience—

I never heard in my life, said the Countess, such a fine character of any mortal, as he gave you. He told me of his engagements to go abroad as the very next day. He highly extolled the Lady for whose sake, principally, he was obliged to go abroad; and he spoke as highly of a brother of hers, whom he loved as if he were his own brother; and mentioned very affectionately the young Lady's whole family.

'God only knows, said he, what may be my destiny!—As generosity, as justice, or rather as Providence, leads, I will follow.'

After he had generously opened his heart, proceeded the Countess, I asked him, if he had any hope, should the foreign Lady recover her health, of her being his?

'I can promise myself nothing, said he. I go over without one selfish hope. If the Lady recover her health, and her brother can be amended in his, by the assistance I shall carry over with me, I shall have joy inexpressible. To Providence I leave the rest. The result cannot be in my own power.'

Then, Sir, proceeded the Countess, you cannot in honour be under any engagements to Miss Byron?

I arose from my seat. Whither, my dear?—I have done, if I oppress you. I moved my chair behind hers, but so close to hers, that I leaned on the back of it, my face hid, and my eyes running over. She stood up. Sit down again, madam, said I, and proceed—Pray proceed. You have excited my curiosity. Only let me sit here, unheeded, behind you.

Pray, madam, said Mrs. Reeves (burning also with curiosity, as she has since owned) go on; and indulge my cousin in her present seat. What answer did Sir Charles return?

My dear Love, said the Countess (sitting down, as I had requested) let me first be answered one question. I would not do mischief.

You cannot do mischief, madam, replied I. What is your Ladyship's question?

Has Sir Charles Grandison ever directly made his addresses to you, my dear?

Never, madam.

It is not for want of love, I dare aver, that he has not. But thus he answered my question:

'I should have thought myself the unworthiest of men, knowing the difficulties of my own situation, how great soever were the temptation from Miss Byron's merit, if I had sought to engage her affections'

[O, Lucy! How nobly is his whole conduct towards me justified!]

'She has, madam (proceeded the Countess in his words) 'a prudence that I never knew equalled in a woman so young. With a frankness of mind, to which hardly ever young Lady before her had pretensions, she has such a command of her affections, that no man, I dare say, will ever have a share in them, till he has courted her favour by assiduities which shall convince her that he has no heart but for her.'

O my Lucy! What an honour to me would these sentiments be, if I deserved them! And can Sir Charles Grandison think I do? I hope so. But if he does, how much am I indebted to his favourable, his generous opinion I Who knows but I have reason to rejoice, rather than to regret, as I used to do, his frequent absences from Colnebrooke?

The Countess proceeded.

Then, Sir, you will not take it amiss, if my son, by his assiduities, can prevail upon Miss Byron to think that he has merit, and that his heart is wholly devoted to her.

'Amiss, madam!—No!—In justice, in honour, I cannot. May Miss Byron be, as she deserves to be, one of the happiest women on earth in her nuptials. I have heard a great character of Lord D. He has a very large estate. He may boast of his mother—God forbid, that I, a man divided in myself, not knowing what I can do, hardly sometimes what I ought to do, should seek to involve in my own uncertainties the friend I revere; the woman I so greatly admire: Her beauty so attracting; so proper therefore for her to engage a generous protector in the married state!'

Generous man! thought I. O how my tears ran down my cheeks, as I hid my face behind the Countess's chair!

But will you allow me, Sir, proceeded the Countess, to ask you, Were you freed from all your uncertainties—

'Permit me, madam, interrupted he, to spare you the question you were going to put. Miss Byron may come to hear the substance of a conversation that is of a very delicate nature—As I know not what will be the result of my journey abroad, I should think myself a very selfish man, and a very dishonourable one to two Ladies of equal delicacy and worthiness, if I sought to involve, as I hinted before, in my own uncertainties, a young Lady whose prudence and great qualities must make herself and any man happy, whom she shall favour with her hand.

'To be still more explicit, proceeded he, With what face could I look up to a woman of honour and delicacy, such a one as the Lady before whom I now stand, if I could own a wish, that, while my honour has laid me under obligation to one Lady, if she shall be permitted to accept of me, I should presume to hope, that another, no less worthy, would hold her favour for me suspended, till she saw what would be the issue of the first obligation? No, madam; I could sooner die, than offer such indignity to BOTH! I am fettered, added he; but Miss Byron is free: And so is the Lady abroad. My attendance on her at this time, is indispensable; but I make not any conditions for myself—My reward will be in the consciousness of having discharged the obligations that I think myself under, as a man of honour.'

The countess's voice changed in repeating this speech of his: And she stopped to praise him; and then went on.

You are THE man, indeed, Sir!—But then give me leave to ask you, As I think it very likely that you will be married before you return to England, Whether now that you have been so good as to speak favourably of my son, and that you call Miss Byron Sister, you will oblige him with a recommendation to that sister?

'The Countess of D. shows, by this request, her value for a young Lady who deserves it; and the more, for its being, I think (Excuse me, madam) a pretty extraordinary one. But what a presumption would it be in me, to suppose that I had SUCH an interest with Miss Byron, when she has relations as worthy of her, as she is of them?'

You may guess, my dear, said the Countess, that I should not have put this question, but as a trial of his heart. However, I asked his pardon; and told him, that I would not believe he gave it me, except he would promise to mention to Miss Byron, that I had made him a visit on this subject [Methinks, Lucy, I should have been glad that he had not let me know that he was so forgiving!].

And now, my dear, said the Lady, let me turn about.—She did; and put one arm round my neck, and with my own handkerchief wiped my eyes, and kissed my cheek; and when she saw me a little recovered, she addressed me as follows:

Now, my good young creature, [O that you would let me call you daughter in my own way! for I think I must always call you so, whether you do, or not] let me ask you, as if I were your real mother,

'Have you any expectation that Sir Charles Grandison will be yours?'

Dear madam, Is not this as hard a question to be put to me, as that which you put to him?

Yes, my dear—full as hard. And I am as ready to ask your pardon, as I was his, if you are really displeased with me for putting it. Are you, Miss Byron? Excuse me, Mrs. Reeves, for thus urging your lovely cousin: I am at least entitled to the excuse Sir Charles Grandison made for me, that it is a demonstration of my value for her.

I have declared, madam, returned I, and it is from my heart, that I think he ought to be the husband of the Lady abroad: And tho' I prefer him to all the men I ever saw, yet I have resolved, if possible, to conquer the particular regard I have for him. He has in a very noble manner offered me his friendship; so long as it may be accepted without interfering with any other attachments on my part: And I will be satisfied with that.

A friendship so pure, replied the Countess, as that of such a man, is consistent with any other attachments. My Lord D. will, with his whole Soul, contribute all in his power to strengthen it: He admires Sir Charles Grandison: He would think it a double honour to be acquainted with him through you. Dearest Miss Byron, take another worthy young man into your friendship, but with a tenderer name: I shall then claim a fourth place in it for myself. O my dear! What a quadruple knot will you tie!

Your Ladyship does me too much honour, was all I could just then reply.

I must have an answer, my dear: I will not take up with a compliment.

This, then, madam, is my answer—I hope I am an honest creature: I have not a heart to give.

Then you have expectations, my dear.—Well, I will call you mine, if I can. Never did I think that I could have made the proposal, that I am going to make you: But in my eyes, as well as in my Lord's, you are an incomparable young woman.—This is it—We will not think of the alliance proposed to us (It is yet but a proposal, and to which we have not returned any answer) till we see what turn the affair Sir Charles is gone upon takes. You once said, you could prefer my son to any of the men that had hitherto applied to you for your favour. Your affections to Sir Charles were engaged before you knew us. Will you allow my son this preference, which will be the first preference, if Sir Charles engages himself abroad?

Your Ladyship surprises me: Shall I not improve by the example you have just now set before me? Who was it that said, and a man too? 'With what face could I look up to a woman of honour and delicacy, such a one as the Lady before whom I now stand, if I could own a wish, that, while my heart leaned to one person, I should think of keeping another in suspense till I saw whether I could or could not be the other's?' 'No, madam, I would sooner die,' as Sir Charles said, 'than offer such an indignity to both!' But I know, madam, that you only made this proposal, as you did another to Sir Charles Grandison, as a trial of my heart.

Upon my word, my dear, I should, I think, be glad to be entitled to such an excuse: But I was really in earnest; and now take a little shame to myself.

What charming ingenuousness in this Lady!

She clasp'd her arms about me, and kissed my cheek again. I have but one plea to make for myself; I could not have fallen into such an error (the example so recently given to the contrary) had I not wished you to be, before any woman in the world, Countess of D.—Noble Creature! No title can give you dignity. May your own wishes be granted!

My cousin's eyes ran over with pleasure.

The Countess asked, When I returned to Northhamptonshire? I told her my intention. She charged me to see her first. But I can tell you, said she, my Lord shall not be present when you come: Not once more will I trust him in your company; and if he should steal a visit unknown to me, let not your cousin see him, Mrs. Reeves. He does indeed admire you, Love, looking at me.

I acknowledged, with a grateful heart, her goodness to me. She engaged me to correspond with her when I got home. Her commands were an honour done me, that I could not refuse myself. Her son, she smilingly told me, should no more see my Letters, than my Person.

At her going away—I will tell you one thing, said she: I never before, in a business which my heart was set upon, was so effectually silenced by a precedent produced by myself in the same conversation. I came with an assurance of success. When our hearts are engaged in a hope, we are apt to think every step we take for the promoting it, reasonable: Our passions, my dear, will evermore run away with our judgment. But now I think of it, I must, when I say our, make two exceptions; one for you, and one for Sir Charles Grandison.

But, Lucy, tell me—May I, do you think, explain the meaning of the word SELFISH used by Sir Charles in the conclusion of the Library-conference at Colnebrooke (and which puzzled me then to make out) by his disclaiming of selfishness in the conversation with the Countess above recited? If I may, what an opening of his heart does that word give in my favour, were he at liberty? Does it not look, my dear, as if his Honour checked him, when his Love would have prompted him to wish me to preserve my heart disengaged till his return from abroad? Nor let it be said, that it was dishonourable in him to have such a thought, as it was checked and overcome; and as it was succeeded by such an emotion, that he was obliged to depart abruptly from me.—Let me repeat the words—You may not have my Letter at hand which relates that affecting address to me; and it is impossible for me, while I have memory, to forget them. He had just concluded his brief history of Clementina—'And now, madam, what can I say?—Honour forbids me!—Yet honour bids me—Yet I cannot be unjust, ungenerous, selfish!'—If I may flatter myself, Lucy, that he did love me when he said this, and that he had a conflict in his noble heart between the Love on one side so hopeless (for I could not forgive him, if he did not love, as well as pity Clementina), and on the other not so hopeless, were there to have been no bar between—Shall we not pity him for the arduous struggle? Shall we not see that honour carried it, even in favour of the hopeless against the hopeful, and applaud him the more for being able to overcome? How shall we call virtue by its name, if it be not tried; and if it hath no contest with inclination?

If I am a vain self-flatterer, tell me, chide me, Lucy; but allow me, however, at the same time, this praise, if I can make good my claim to it, that my conquest of my passion is at least as glorious for me, as his is for him, were he to love me ever so well; since I can most sincerely, however painfully, subscribe to the preference which Honour, Love, Compassion, unitedly, give to CLEMENTINA.

Volume IV - lettera 30

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