Jane Austen
Samuel Richardson - Sir Charles Grandison
Volume V - lettere 11/20
traduzione di Giuseppe Ierolli

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Volume V - Letter 11


June 14-25.

Having the honour of an invitation to a conversation-visit, to the Cardinal Legate, and to meet there the Gonfalonier, I went to the palace of Porretta in the morning.

After sitting about half an hour with my friend Jeronymo, I was admitted to the presence of Lady Clementina. Her father, mother, and the Bishop, were with her. Clementina, Chevalier, said her mother, was enquiring for you. She is desirous to recover her English. Are you willing, Sir, to undertake your pupil again?

Ay, Chevalier, said the young Lady, those were happy times, and I want to recover them. I want to be as happy as I was then.

You have not been very well, madam: And is it not better to defer our lectures for some days, till you are quite established in your health?

Why, that is the thing. I know I have been very ill: I know that I am not yet quite well; and I want to be so: And that is the reason that I would recover my English.

You will soon recover it, madam, when you begin. But at present, the thought, the memory, it would require you to exert, would perplex you. I am afraid the study would rather retard, than forward your recovery.

Why, now, I did not expect this from you, Sir. My mamma has consented.

I did, my dear, because I would deny you nothing, that your heart was set upon: But the Chevalier has given you such good reasons to suspend his lectures, that I wish you would not be earnest in your request.

But I can't help it, madam. I want to be happy.

Well, madam, let us begin now. What English book have you at hand?

I don't know. But I will fetch one.

She stepped out, Camilla after her, and, poor Lady, forgetting her purpose, brought down some of her own work, the first thing that came to hand, out of a drawer that she pulled out, in her dressing-room; instead of looking into her book-case. It is an unfinished piece of Noah's ark, and the rising deluge; the execution admirable. And, coming to me, I wonder where it has lain all this time. Are you a judge of women's works, Chevalier?

She went to the table—Come hither, and sit down by me. I did. Madam, to her mother; my Lord, to her brother (for the Marquis withdrew, in grief, upon this Instance of her wandering); come, and sit down by the Chevalier and me. They did. She spread it on the table, and, in an attentive posture, her elbow on the table, her head on one hand, pointing with the finger of the other—Now tell me your opinion of this work.

I praised, as it deserved, the admirable finger of the work-woman. Do you know, that's mine, Sir? said she: But tell me; every-body can praise; Do you see no fault?—I think that is one, said I; and pointed to a disproportion that was pretty obvious—Why so it is. I never knew you to be a flatterer.

Men, who can find faults more gracefully, said the Bishop, than others praise, need not flatter. Why that's true, said she. She sighed; I was happy when I was about this work. And the drawing was my own too, after—after—I forget the painter—But you think it tolerable—Do you?

I think it upon the whole very fine. If you could rectify that one fault, it would be a master-piece.

Well, I think I'll try, since you like it. She rolled it up—Camilla, let it be put on my toilette. I am glad the Chevalier likes it. But, Sir, if I am not at a loss; for my head is not as it should be.—

Poor Lady! She lost what she was going to say—She paused as if she would recollect it—Do you know, at last, said she, what is the matter with my head? putting her hand to her sorehead—Such a strange confusion just here! And so stupid! She shut her eyes. She laid her head on her mother's shoulder; who dropped an involuntary tear on her forehead.

The Bishop was affected. Can you, can you, Chevalier, whispered he, suppose this dear creature's reason in your power, and yet withhold it from her?

Ah, my Lord, said I, how cruel!

She raised her head; and, taking her mother's and Camilla's offered salts, smelt to them in turn—I think I am a little better. Were you, Chevalier, ever in such a strange way?—I hope not—God preserve all people from being as I have been!—Why now you are all affected. Why do you all weep? What have I said? God forbid, that I should afflict any-body—Ah! Chevalier! and laid her hand upon my arm, God will bless you. I always said, you were a tenderhearted man. God will pity him, that can pity another!—But, brother, my Lord, I have not been at church of a long time; Have I? How long is it?—Where is the General? Where is my Uncle?—Laurana! poor Laurana! God forgive her. She is gone to answer for all her unkindness!—And she said she was sorry; Did she?

Thus rambled the poor Lady! What, my dear Dr. Bartlett, can be more affecting than these absences, these reveries, of a mind once so sound and sensible!

She withdrew at her own motion, with Camilla; and we had no thoughts of communicating to her, at that time, my intentional absence. But as I was about taking my leave for the day, Camilla came into Jeronymo's chamber, where I was; and told me, that her young Lady was very sedate, and desired to see me, if I were not gone.

She led me into Clementina's dressing-room, where was present her mother only; who said, she thought I might apprise her daughter of my proposed Journey to Naples; and she herself began the subject.

My dear, said she, the Chevalier has been acquainting my Lord and me with an engagement he is under to visit your brother Giacomo, and his Lady, at Naples.

That is a vast journey, said she.

Not for the Chevalier, my dear. He is used to travel.

Only for a visit!—Is it not better, Sir, for you to stay here, where every-body loves you?

The General, my dear, and his Lady, love the Chevalier.

May be so. But did you promise them, Sir?

I did, madam.

Why then you must perform your promise. But it was not kind in them to engage you.

Why so! my dear? asked her mother.

Why so! Why what will poor Jeronymo do for his friend?

Jeronymo has consented, my dear. He thinks the journey will do the Chevalier good.

Nay, then—Will the journey do you good, Sir? If it will, I am sure Jeronymo would not, for the world, detain you.

Are you willing, my dear, that the Chevalier should go?

Yes, surely, madam, if it will do him good. I would lay down my life to do him good. Can we ever requite him for his goodness towards us?

Grateful heart! said her mother; tears in her eyes.

Gratitude, piety, sincerity, and every duty of the social life, are constitutional virtues in this Lady. No disturbance of mind can weaken, much less efface them.

Shall you not want to see him in his absence?

Perhaps I may: But what then? If it be for his good, you know—

Suppose, my dear, we could obtain the favour of Mrs. Beaumont's company, while the Chevalier is gone?

I should be glad.

Mrs. Beaumont is all goodness, said I. I will endeavour to engage her. I can go by sea to Naples; and then Florence will be in my way.

Florence! Ay, and then you may see Olivia too, you know.

Olivia is not in Italy, madam. She is on her travels.

Nay, I am not against your seeing Olivia, if it will do you good to see her.

You don't love Olivia, my dear, said her mother.

Why, not much—But will you send Mrs. Beaumont to keep me company?

I hope, madam, I may be able to engage her.

And how long shall you be gone?

If I go by sea, I shall return by the way of Rome: And shall make my absence longer or shorter, as I shall hear how my Jeronymo does, or as he will or will not dispense with it.

That is very good of you—But, but—Suppose—(a sweet blush overspread her face)—I don't know what I would say—But, for Jeronymo's sake, don't stay longer than will do you good. No need of that, you know.

Sweet creature! said the mother.

Did you call me so, madam? wrapping her arms about her, and hiding her faintly-blushing face in her bosom. Then raising it up, her arms still folded about her mother: As long as I have my mamma with me, I am happy. Don't let me be sent away from you again, my mamma. I will do every-thing you bid me do. I never was disobedient—Was I? Fie upon me, if I was!

No, never, never, my dearest Life.

So I hoped. For when I knew nothing, this I used to say over my beads; Gracious Father! let me never forget my duty to thee, and to my parents! I was afraid I might, as I remembered nothing—But that was partly owing to Laurana. Poor Laurana! She has now answered for it. I would pray her out of her pains, if I could. Yet she did torment me.

She has entertained a notion, that Laurana is dead: And as it has removed that terror which she used to have, at her very name, they intend not to undeceive her. But, Dr. Bartlett, well, or ill, did you ever know a more excellent creature!

Well, Sir, and so you must go—She quitted her mother, and with a dignity like that which used to distinguish her, she turned to me; and gracefully waving one hand, while she held up the other—God preserve you wherever you go! You must go from friend to friend, were it all the world over. You will let Jeronymo hear often from you—Won't you?—Pray do. And I will, in every visit I make to him, enquire when he heard from his friend. Adieu, Sir: Adieu.

I had not intended then to take my leave of her; but, as she anticipated me, I thought it right to do so; and, respectively bowing on her hand, withdrew, followed by her eyes and her blessings.

I went to Jeronymo. The Marchioness came to me there; and was of opinion with me, that I should take this as a farewell visit to her Clementina; and tomorrow (sooner by two days than I intended) I propose to set out for Florence, in hopes to engage for them Mrs. Beaumont's company; of which they are all extremely desirous.

I took my leave of the whole family, and Mr. Lowther; who will write to me at all opportunities: And, perhaps, you will not, for some weeks, hear further from

Your ever-affectionate


Volume V - lettera 11

Volume V - Letter 12


Thursday, May 11.

I write on purpose to acquaint you, that I have had a visit from Lady Olivia. She dined with me; and is just set out for Northampton. We all joined, in the most cordial manner, to entreat her to favour us with her company till morning: But she was not to be prevailed upon. Every one of us equally admires, and pities her. Indeed she is a finer woman, than you, Lady G. would allow her to be, in the debate between us in town, on that subject.

After dinner, she desired a quarter of an hour's discourse with me alone. We retired into the cedar parlour.

She opened, as she said, her whole heart to me. What an hatred has she to the noble Lady Clementina! She sometimes frighted me by her threatenings—Poor unwomanly Lady!

I took the liberty to blame her. I told her, she must excuse me; it was ever my way with those I respected.

She would fain have got me to own, that I loved Sir Charles Grandison. I acknowledged gratitude and esteem—But as there are no prospects (hopes I had like to have said), I would go no further. But she was sure it was so. I did say, and I am in earnest, that I never could be satisfied with a divided heart. She clasped me in her arms upon this, and put her cheek to my forehead.

She told me, that she admired him for his virtue. She knew he had resisted the greatest temptations that ever man was tried with. I hope, poor woman, that none of them were from her!—For her own sake (notwithstanding what Dr. Bartlett once whispered, and, good man as he is) I hope so!—The Chevalier, she said, was superior to all attempts that were not grounded on honour and conscience. She had heard of women who had spread their snares for him in his early youth: But women, in her country, of slight fame, she said, had no way to come at him: And women of virtue were secure from his attempts. Yet would you not have thought, asked she, that beauty might have marked him for its own? Such an air, such an address, so much personal bravery, accustomed to shine in the upper life; all that a woman can value in a man, is the Chevalier Grandison!

She, at last, declared, that she wished him to be mine, rather than any woman's on earth.

I was very frank, very unreserved. She seemed delighted with me; and went away, professing to every one, as well as to me, that she admired me for my behaviour, my sincerity, my prudence (she was pleased to say) and my artlessness, above all the women she had ever conversed with.

May her future conduct be such, as may do credit to her birth, to her high fortune, to her sex, and I shall then forgive her for an attempt (as it was frustrated) that I thought she ought never to be forgiven for; and which made me, as we sat, often look upon her with terror, and deprecation, may I say?

In answer to your kind enquiries about my health—I only say, What must be, will—Sometimes better than at others. If I could hear you were good, I should be better, I believe. Adieu, my dear Lady G.: Adieu.

Volume V - lettera 12

Volume V - Letter 13


[On Sir Charles's first Letter from Bologna,
Vol. 5. Letter 4.

Wednesday, May 31

(Note: Several letters of Miss Byron, Lady G., Lady L. and Miss Jervois, which were written between the date of the preceding letter, and the present, are omitted.)

I am greatly obliged to you, my dear Lady G. for dispatching to me, in so extraordinary a way, the first Letter of your brother to Dr. Bartlett. I thank God for his safe arrival at the destined place; and for the faint hopes given in it of his friend's life. The Almighty will do his own work, and in his own way. And that must be best.

You ask me for my opinion of the contents of this Letter, at large—What can I say?—Thus much I must say—

I admire, more and more, your brother. I pity the family he is gone to comfort and relieve And I pray for Clementina and Jeronymo; and this as well for your brother's sake as theirs.

He generously rejoices, that he did not pursue his own INCLINATIONS—I am very happy in what he says of your Harriet. Indeed, my dear, I am. Tho' we may be conscious of not deserving the praises bestowed upon us, yet are we fond of standing high in the opinion of those we love. Two paragraphs I have got by heart. I need not tell you which they are. But, alas! his greatly favoured friend is not so free, as he hoped she was. It is a pleasure to me, however, because it is such to him, that it is not his fault, but her own, that she is not.

The Countess, whom he so justly praises, writes to me; and I answer—But to what purpose? I am afraid, that a very important observation of his comes not in time to do me service; since if my prudence is proportion'd to my trials, I ought to have endeavour'd to exert it sooner.

But, it seems there is an insuperable objection against the poor Lady's going into a Nunnery. I never heard of that before. It seems right to the Marchioness, that the young Lady, who is entitled to a great share of this world's goods, should not be dedicated to heaven. This may be so in the family eye, for aught I know: But I am persuaded, that if there is any one of it, who would not have pleaded this obstacle to a divine dedication, it would be Clementina herself. And yet I own, I can allow of their regret, that the cruel Laurana should be a gainer by Clementina's being lost, as I may say, to the world.

Your brother's kind remembrance of Mr. and Mrs. Reeves, is an honour done to me, as well as to them. I must take it so, Lady G. And what he says of me in the paragraph in which he mentions Emily, adds to the pride he had raised in me before.

Dr. Bartlett is extremely obliging, in not offering to withhold any passage in your brother's Letters from us. I have let him know, that I think him so; and have begged him not to spare any-thing out of tenderness to me, on a supposition that I may be affected, or made uneasy by what your brother shall write to him. This is speaking very plainly, my dear: But it is to Dr. Bartlett; and he signified to us, more than once, that he could not be a stranger to the heart of your Harriet.

And now, my dear Lady G. let me ask you, in my turn, What you think of one passage in your brother's Letter, of which you have not taken the least notice in yours to me? "Charlotte, I hope, is happy, if she be not, it must be her own fault."

You have honestly owned in your last (yet too roguishly for a true penitent) that it was evidently so in the debate about being presented. Miss Grandison used to like the drawing-room well enough. Her brother has owned, in my hearing, as well as in yours, that had he not been so long out of England, and, since his return to it so seldom in town, he would have made it a part of his duty, to pay his attendance there, at proper times. But Lady G. forsooth, disdained to appear as the property [Reflect but, my dear, how absurd] of a worthy man, to whom she had vowed love, honour, and obedience.

I should not remind you thus of past flippancies, did not new ones seem to spring up every day.

For heaven's sake, my dear Lady G. let it not be carried from England to Italy, that Lord G. is not so happy with a sister of Sir Charles Grandison, as might be expected; lest it be asked, Whether that sister, and this brother, had the same mother. I have written before all that I could possibly say on this subject. You know yourself to be wrong. It would be impertinence to expostulate further on a duty so known, and acknowledged: No more, therefore, on this head (authorise me to say) for ever!

As to my health—I would fain be well. I am more sorry, that I am not, for the sake of my friends (who are incessantly grieving for me) than for my own. I have not, I think I have not, any-thing to reproach myself with; nor yet any-body to reproach me. To whom have I given cause of triumph over me, by my ill usage, or insolence to him? I yield to an event to which I ought to submit: And to a woman, not less, but more worthy than myself; and who has a prior claim.

I long to hear of the meeting of this noble pair. May it be propitious! May Sir Charles Grandison have the satisfaction, and the merit with the family, of being the means of restoring to reason (a greater restoration than to health) the woman, every faculty of whose soul ought, in that case, to be devoted to GOD, and to him! Methinks I have at present but one wish; it is, that I may live to see this Lady, if she is to be the happy woman. Could I, do you think, Lady G. if I were to have this honour, cordially congratulate her as Lady Grandison? Heaven only knows! But it would be my glory, if I could; for then I should not scruple to put myself in a rank with Clementina; and to demand her hand, as that of my sister.

But, poor Olivia!—Shall I not pity the unhappy woman, who, I am afraid, is too short-sighted to look forward to that only consolation which can weaken the force of worldly disappointments.

My cousin Reeves, in a joyful Letter, just now received, acquaints me with the birth of the fine boy his wife has presented to him: An event that exceedingly rejoices us all. He tells me in it, how good you are. Continue to them, my dear Lady G. your affectionate regards. They ever loved you: Even for your very faults, so bewitchingly lively are you. But I have told Mr. Reeves, that his partiality for you shows that he feels not for Lord G. as he would for himself, were his wife a Lady G.

I will write to my other friends. Dear creature! Don't let me say, that I love Lord G. better than I do Lady G.: Yet, were the aggressor in a quarrel my own sister, endeared to me by a thousand generous offices, I would, I must love the sufferer best; at least, while he is a sufferer. Witness,


Volume V - lettera 13

Volume V - Letter 14


Thursday, June 1.

Thanks an hundred times repeated, to you, my dear Lady G. and to good Dr. Bartlett, for the favour of Sir Charles's Letters, of May 22. 23. 26. and 27. N. S. all following so quick, that which you favour'd me with of the 10th-21st, upon which I wrote to you yesterday. I dispatch them to you for the Doctor, all together.

I cannot, my dear, have much to say to the contents of these.

They have met: Had more interviews than one.

Why cannot the Count of Belvedere—But no more of that, I don't like this General. The whole family (the two noble sufferers Jeronymo and Clementina excepted) seem to me to have more pride than gratitude—Ay, mother and all, my dear!

But you see Sir Charles has been indisposed. No wonder. Visited by the Marquis and Marchioness, you see: Not a slight illness, therefore, you may believe. God preserve him, and restore Lady Clementina, and the worthy Jeronymo!

His kind remembrance of me—But, my dear, I think the Doctor and you must forbear obliging me with any more of his Letters—His goodness, his tenderness, his delicacy, his strict honour, but adds—Yet can any new instances add to a character so uniformly good?—But the chief reason of my self-denial, if you were to take me at my word, as to these communications, is, that his affecting descriptions and narratives of Lady Clementina's reveries (poor, poor Lady!) will break my heart! Yet you must send them to

Your ever obliged

Volume V - lettera 14

Volume V - Letter 15


Monday, June 5.

My dear Creature!

You must not, you shall not be ill. What signify your Heroics, child, if they only give you placid looks, and make an hypocrite of the sincerest girl in England? In other words, if they are only a cover for a despairing heart? Be better: Be less affected; or I can tell you, the Doctor and I, and Lady L. shall all think it but right to take you at your first word, and send you no more of my brother's Letters. Yet we are all of us as greatly affected by the contents of them, as our dear Harriet can be. I am sure you will allow us to be so, for the poor Lady. But to subjects less interesting.

The Doctor is with us. Aunt Nell is in love with him. He ordered his matters, and came to town at Lady L's request and mine, and Beauchamp's that we might the sooner come at my brother's Letters—Very obliging!—Beauchamp worships the good man. He would have been with him at Grandison-hall, but that Sir Harry and Lady Beauchamp knew not how to part with him: And I fancy another slyer reason with-held him, half unknown to himself. Love is certainly creeping into his heart. This Emily! a little rogue! has already (yet suspects it not) made a conquest. He deserves her better than any man I know: She him, had she not already a great hole in her heart, thro' which one may run one's head. But does not Beauchamp love the same person as much as she can do? And does he not know, that the girl is innocent, and the man virtuous, even, as I believe, to chastity?—Dear Harriet! Don't let the Ladies around you, nor the Gentlemen neither, hear this grace supposed to be my brother's. Nobody about us shall for me. I would not have my brother made the jest of one Sex, and the aversion of the other; and be thought so singular a young man.

Beauchamp says nothing to any-body of his regard to Emily: But he lays himself out in so many unaffected assiduities to her, that one cannot but see it. She likes his company and his conversation. But why? because he is always launching out in the praises of his and her beloved friend. He says, there is not, he believes, such another innocent and undesigning heart in the world, except one in Northamptonshire—There's for you, Harriet;—So he praises not mine. That is the wickedest thing of these felons of men: Poverty compels them tho'—Poverty of genius!—They cannot praise one woman, but by robbing the rest. Different, however, from all men, is my brother. I will engage he could find attributes for fifty different women, yet do justice to them all: Because, tho' he sees every one with favour, he is above flattering any.

Well, but, Harriet, I expected Letters six times as long as these you sent me. Upon my word, if you are so very heavenly-minded, as you appear to be in the first (for the second is hardly a Letter) I will have you to town, and nun you up with aunt Nell. The Doctor is one of the most pious men in England: But she will tire him with praying, and expounding, as she calls it. Do you know that the good creature was a Methodist in Yorkshire? These overdoers, my dear, are wicked wretches. What do they, but make religion look unlovely, and put underdoers out of heart? My brother is The man. You know I must always bring in my brother, tho' I am a little out of humour with him, at present: And am I not justified by the many? Since it is always the way of those who intend not to mend, to set their hearts against their correctors—My brother professes not the one half of what he practises. He uses the fashion, without abusing it, or himself, by following it. Some such words in a sacred book rumble in my mad head! but I know I have not them right.

It is impossible, say what you will, Harriet, to be long upon terms with this man—Lord G. I mean. He was once half in the right, to be sure; but you should not have reproached me with that. The bride was shown, the jewels were shown, the whole family paraded it together; and Emily wrote you all how-and-about it. But never fear for your poor friend. The honest man will put himself in the wrong next, to save her credit. He has been long careless, and now he is, at times, imperious, as well as careless. Very true! Nay it was but yesterday, that he attempted to hum a tune of contempt, upon my warbling an Italian air. An opera couple, we! Is it not charming to sing at (I cannot say to) each other, when we have a mind to be spiteful? But he has a miserable voice. He cannot sing so fine a song as I can. He should not attempt it. Besides, I can play to my song; that cannot be. Such a foe to melody, that he hates the very sight of my harpsichord. He flies out of the room, if I but move towards it.

He has every-body of his side; Lord and Lady L., Emily, nay, Dr. Bartlett and aunt Nell. This sets him up. No such thing as managing one's own husband, when so many wise heads join together, to uphold him. Ut-terly ruined for a husband, is Lord G.; I once bad some hopes of him. But now, every good-natur'd jest is turned into earnest by these mediators and mediatrices.

A few days ago, in a fond fit, I would have stroked his cheek; tho' he was not in a very good humour neither—So, then! So, then! said I, as I had seen Beauchamp do an hour before by his prancing nag; and it was construed as a contempt, and his bristles got up upon it. Bless me, thought I, this man is not so sensible of a favour as Beauchamp's horse; and yet I have known the time, when he has thought it an honour to be admitted to press the same fair hand with his lips, on one knee.

Hark! He is now, at this very instant, complaining to aunt Nell. Little do they think, that I am in her closet. She hears all he has to say, with greedy ears—These antiquated souls are happy, when they can find reasons from the disagreement of honest people in matrimony, to make a virtue of necessity. "Thank the Lord, I am not married! if these be the fruits of matrimony!'—Ah! Lord, my dear! Now these last words have slipped me—The man—between you and me, has been a villain to me! Can I forgive him? could you in my circumstances? Yet I hope it is not so. If it should, and Lady Gertrude and aunt Nell (spiteful old souls!) should find their perpetual curiosity answered as they wish, I will have my own will in every-thing.

And how came I, you will wonder, in aunt Nell's closet? I will tell you. She had got my pen and ink: And I went to fetch it myself: The scribbling fit was strong upon me! so I sat down in her closet to write: And they both came into her chamber together, to have their own talk—Hark, I say!—They are really talking of me—Complaining!—Abominable!—This wicked aunt of mine "I tell you, nephew, that you are too ready to make up with her."—Could you have believed this of one's own aunt? No wonder that he is so refractory at times. But, hush!—Why don't he speak louder? He can't be in earnest hurt, if he does not raise his voice. Creeping soul, and whiner!—I can't hear a word he says. I have enough against her!—But I want something against him—Duce take them both! I can't hear more than the sound of her broken-toothed voice, mumbling; and his plaintive hum-drum, whimpering. I will go out in full majesty. I will lighten upon them with airs imperial. How the poor souls will start at my appearance! How will their consciences fly in their faces! The complainer and adviser both detected in the very fact, as I may say: And yet perhaps you, Harriet, will think them less blameable than their conscience-striker.

Hem!—Three hems in anger!—And now I burst upon them.

* *

O Harriet! what a triumph was mine!

Aunt Neil, who has naturally a good blowzing north-country complexion, turned as pale as ashes. Her chin, nose, and lips, were all in motion. My nimble Lord gave a jump, and three leaps, to the other side of the room. He had not the courage to look directly at me. His face, as sharp as a new moon in a frosty night, and his sides so gaunt—As if he wanted to shrink into himself. They could not in their hearts but accuse themselves of all they had said, as if I had heard every word of it.

While I (what a charming thing is innocence!) half a foot taller than usual, stalked along between them, casting a look of indignation upon aunt Nell; of haughtiness on Lord G. My with-held breath raised my complexion, and swelled my features! and when I got to the door, I pulled it after me with an air, that I hope made them both tremble.

Volume V - lettera 15

Volume V - Letter 16


Well, my dear—Aunt Nell and I have made up. I have been pacified by her apologies, and promises never again to interfere between man and wife. As I told the forlorn soul, You maiden Ladies, tho' you have lived a great while in the world, cannot know what strange creatures these husbands are, and how many causes (that cannot be mentioned by the poor wife to her friends) a woman may have to be displeased with her man, in order to keep the creature in some little decorum—Indeed, madam—There I stop—This excited her prudery; and she made out the rest, and, perhaps, a great deal more than the rest. She looked down, to show she was sensible, tried for a blush; and, I verily believe, had she been a young woman, would have succeeded. "Why, truly, niece, I believe you are right. These men are odious creatures!—And then she shuddered, as if she had said, Lord defend me from them!—a prayer, that, being a good creature, she need not doubt will be answered.

But for Lord G. there lies no forgiveness. To complain of his wife to her aunt! A married man to submit matrimonial squabbles (and every honest pair has some) to others! to an old maid, especially! and to authorise her to fit in judgment on his wife's little whimsies, when the good woman wants to make herself important to him; and thereby endeavour to destroy the wife's significance; there's no bearing of that. He had made Lord L. and Lady L. judges over me before. Nay, this infant Emily has taken her seat on the same bench; and, in her pretty manner, has by beseeching me to be good, supposed me bad. And to some one of them (who knows but to the telltale himself, tho' he denies it?) my brother's hint is owing, on which you so sagely expostulate: My reputation, therefore, as an obedient wife, with all those whose good opinion was worth courting, is gone: And is not this enough to make one careless?

* *

Bless me, my dear! This man of errors has committed, if possible, a still worse fault. He regards me not as any-body. The Earl and he have been long uneasy, it seems, that we live at the expense of my brother, to whom there is no making returns; and a house offering in Grosvenor-square, he has actually contracted for it, without consulting me. I must own that I cannot in my heart disapprove either of the motive, or the house, as I have the latter described to me: But his doing it of his own head, is an insolent act of prerogative. Don't you in conscience think so? Does he not, by this step, make me his chattels, a piece of furniture only, to be removed as any other piece of furniture, or picture, or cabinet, at his pleasure?

He came to me—I hope, madam, in a reproaching accent, I have done something now that will please you: Ought his stiff air, and the reflecting word NOW, to have gone unpunish'd? Hast thou found out any other old maid, to fit in judgment on the behaviour of thy wife? But what hast thou done?—I was astonished when the man told me.

And who is to be thy housekeeper? Is this done in, hope I'll follow thee? Or dost thou intend to exclude from thy habitation the poor woman who met thee at church a few weeks ago?

Just then came in Lady L. I asked her, what she thought of this step?

Had she vindicated him, I never would have regarded a word she said between us. But she owned, that she thought I should have been consulted. And then he began to see that he had done a wrong thing. I acquainted her with his former fault, unatoned for as it was—Why, as to that, she did not know what to say; only, that it became my character, and good sense, so to behave, as that Lord G. should have no reason to complain of me to any-body. A hard thing, Harriet, to be reflected upon by an own sister!

* *

Lady L. prevailed upon me, unknown to Lord G. to go with her to see this house. 'Tis a handsome house. I have but the one aforesaid objection to it—But let me ask you again: Is not the slight he has put upon me, in taking it without consulting me, an inexcusable thing ?—I know you will say it is. But I'll tell you how I think to do—I will make him give up the contract; and when he has done so, unknown to him, take the same house myself. This will be returning the compliment. His excuse is, He was sure I should like the house and the terms. If he is sure of my liking it, and has chosen it himself, the duce is in it, if I may not be sure of his—Would he dislike it, because I liked it?—Say so, if you dare Harriet; and suppose me blameable.

* *

O my dear! What shall I do with this passionate man? I could not, you know, forgive him for the two unatoned-for steps which he had taken, without some contrition: And do you think he would show any?—Not he!—I said something that set him up; something bordering upon the whimsical—No matter what. He pranced upon it. I, with my usual meekness, calmly rebuked him; and then went to my harpsichord: And, what do you think? How shall I tell it; Yet to you I may—Why then he whisked his hat from under his arm (he was going out); and silenced, broke, demolished, my poor harpsichord.

I was surprised: But instantly recovering myself; You are a violent wretch, Lord G. said I, quite calmly: How could you do so?—Suppose (and I took the wicked hat) I should throw it into the fire? But I gave it to him, and made him a fine curtsy. There was command of temper! I thought, at the instant of Epictetus and his snapped leg. Was I not as great a Philosopher?

* *

He is gone out. Dinner is ready; and no Lord G. Aunt Nell is upon the fret: But she remembers her late act of delinquency; so is obliged to be silent. I have her under my thumb.

* *

The man came in after we had dined. I went to him, as if nothing had been the matter between us. You look vexed, my Lord!—It was a very violent action: It vexed me at first: But you see how soon I recovered my temper, I wish you would learn patience of me. But come, I forgive you; I will not be angry with you, for an evil that a little money will repair. I see you are vexed.

So I am, madam, at my very soul! But it is not—

Now to be helped—True, my Lord, and I forgive you—

But curse me, if I forgive you, madam—

O fie! that's wickedly said: But I know you will, when I ask you.

Aunt Nell sat by the window; her eyes half shut; her mouth as firmly closed, as if her lips were glued together.

Madam, addressing himself to her, I shall set out to-morrow for Windsor.

Windsor, my Lord? said I.—He answered me not.

Ask my good Lord G. madam, said I, in a sweet humble voice, how long he shall stay at Windsor?

How long, my Lord? mumbled out aunt Nell—

From Windsor I shall go to Oxford.

Ask him, madam, how long he shall be before he returns?

How long, my Lord, shall you be absent from us?

When I find I can return, and not be the jest of my own wife—I may, perhaps—There he stopped, and looked stately.

Tell my Lord, that he is too serious, madam. Tell him, that hardly any other man but would see I was at play with him, and would play again.

You hear what my niece says, my Lord.

I regard nothing she says.

Ask him, madam, who is to be of his party.

Who, my Lord, is to be of your party?

Nobody; turning himself half round, that he might not be thought to answer me, but her.

Ask him, madam, whether it be business or pleasure, that engages him to take this solitary tour?

She looked the question to him.

Neither, madam, to her. I left my pleasure some weeks ago, at St. George's Church. I have never found it since.

A strange forgetful man! and as ungrateful as forgetful. And I stepped to him, and looked in his face, so courteously! and with such a sweet smile!

He sullenly turned from me, and to aunt Nell.

Ask my Lord, If he takes this journey, thinking to oblige me?

Ask him your own questions, niece.

My Lord won't answer me.

He strutted, and bit his lip with vexation.

Come, I'll try once more if you think me worth answering—I think, my Lord, if you shall be gone a month or two, I may take a little trip to Northamptonshire. Emily shall go with me. The girl is very uneasy to see Miss Byron: And Miss Byron will rejoice to see us both, a visit from us will do her good.

He took it, that I was not desirous of a short absence. And he pouched his mouth, and reared himself up, and swelled; but answered me not.

See, madam, my Lord is sullen; he won't answer me. I must get you to ask my questions. I think it my duty to ask leave to go. My Lord may go where he pleases, without my leave—Very fit he should. He is a man. I once could have done so; high-ho! but I have vowed obedience and vassalage. I will not break my vow. Ask him, If I have his consent for a visit to Miss Byron, of a month or two? Ask him, madam, If he can make himself happy in my absence? I should otherwise be loth to go for so long a time.

I should be as welcome, said he, to Miss Byron, as her—

As her! As she! you should say, I believe, if you won't say As you, madam, and bow to me—I believe so, my Lord. Miss Byron would rejoice to see any of my friends. Miss Byron is very good.

Would to God—

That somebody were half as good, interrupted I. Somebody understands you, my Lord, and wishes so too—Pray, madam, ask my Lord, If I may go?—His new house will be putting in order mean time—

I will ask none of your questions for you—New house, niece! You harp too much on one string.

I mean not offence. I have done with that subject. My Lord, to be sure, has dominion over his bird. He can choose her cage. She has nothing to do, but sit and sing in it—when her instrument is mended, and in tune—He has but one fault. He is too good-natured to his bird. But would he take your advice, madam—

Now, tho' this may sound to you, Harriet, a little recriminating; yet, I do assure you, I spoke it in a very sweet accent: Yet up got aunt Nell, in a passion: My Lord too was all alive. I put myself between her and the door; and throwing my arms about her, You shan't go, madam—Smiling sweetly in her glowing face. Upon my honour you shan't.

Wicked trifler! She called me, as I led her to a chair. Perverse girl! and two or three other names;—apropos enough: My character is not difficult to hit; that's the beauty of it.

My Lord withdrew in wrath; and then the old Lady said, she would now tell me a piece of her mind: And she made me sit down by her; and thus she addressed me:

Niece, it is my opinion, that you might be, if you would, one of the happiest women in the world.

You don't hear me complain, madam.

Well, if Lord G. did complain to me; it was to me; And you should be sorry for the occasion, and not for the complaint.

I may be sorry for both, madam.

Well, but Lord G. is one of the best-natured men in the world—

The man's well enough. Passionate men, they say, are good-natured.

Why won't you be happy, niece?

I will. I am not now un-happy.

More shame for you then, that you will not make Lord G. happy.

He is captious. I am playful. That's all.

What do you think your brother would say—

He would blame me, as you do.

Dear creature, be good. Dear creature, make Lord G. happy.

I am like a builder, madam. I am digging for a foundation. There is a good deal of rubbishy humours to remove; a little swampiness of soil: And I am only removing it, and digging deeper, to make my foundation sure.

Take care, take care, niece: You may dig too deep. There may be springs: You may open, and never be able to stop them, till they have sapped your foundation. Take care, niece.

Thank you, madam, for your caution. Pity you had not been a builder yourself!

Had such a fellow-labourer as Lord G. offered, I should not have refused a partnership with him, I do assure you.

Fairly answered, aunt Nell! thought I, I was pleased with her.

Don't you think Lord G. loves you dearly?

As to dearly, I can't say: But I believe he loves me as well as most husbands love their wives.

Are you not ungrateful then?

No. I am only at play with him. I don't hate him.

Hate him! Dreadful if you did! But he thinks you despise him.

That is one of the rubbishy notions I want to remove. He would have it that I did, when he could have helped himself. But he injures me now, if he thinks so. I can't say I have a very profound reverence for him. He and my brother should not have been allied. But had I despised him in my heart, I should have thought myself a very bad creature for going to church with him.

That's well said. I love you now. Your brother, is, indeed, enough to put all other men down with one. But may I tell Lord G. that you love him?

No, madam.

No! I am sorry for that.

Let him find it out. But he ought to know so much of human nature, and of my sincerity, as to gather from my behaviour to him, that had I either hated or despised him, I would not have been his; and it would have been impossible for me to be so playful with him; to be so domestic, and he so much at home with me. Am I fond of seeking occasions to carry myself from him? What delights, what diversions, what public entertainments, do I hunt after?—None. Is not he, are not all my friends, sure of finding me at home, whenever they visit me?

So far, so good, said aunt Eleanor.

I will open my heart to you, madam. You are my father's sister. You have a right to my sincerity. But you must keep my secret.

Proceed, my dear.

I know my own heart, madam, If I thought I could not trust it (and I wish Lord G. had a good opinion of it) I would not dance thus, as you suppose, on the edge of danger.

Good creature!—I shall call you good creature by-and-by. Let me call Lord G. to us.

I was silent. I contradicted her not. She rang. She bid the servant tell Lord G. that she desired his company. Lord G. was pranced out. She regretted (I was not glad) that he was.

I will tell you what, my dear, said she. I have heard it suggested, by a friend of yours, that you would much rather have had Mr. Beauchamp—

Not a word more of such a suggestion, madam. I should hate myself, were I capable of treating Lord G. meanly, or contemptibly, with a thought of preference to any man breathing, now I am his. I have a great opinion of Mr. Beauchamp. He deserves it. But I never had the shadow of a wish, that I had been his. I never should have spoken of my brother's excellencies, as outshining those of Lord G. had he not been my brother, and therefore could not be more to me; and had they not been so conspicuous, that no other man could be disgraced by giving place to him. No, madam, let me assure you, once for all, that I am so far from despising my Lord G. that, were any misfortune to befall him, I should be a miserable woman.

She embraced me. Why then—

I know your inference, madam. It is a just one. I am afraid I think as well of my own understanding as I do of Lord G's. I love to jest, to play, to make him look about him. I dislike not even his petulance. You see I bear all the flings and throws, and peevishness, which he returns to my sauciness. I think I ought. His complaints of me to you, to Lord and Lady L. which bring upon me their and your grave lecturings, and even anger, I can forgive him for; and this I show by making those complaints matter of pleasantry rather than resentment. I know he intended well, in taking the house, tho' he consulted me not first. It was surely wrong in him; yet I am not mortally offended with him for it. His violence to my poor harpsichord startled me; but I recollected myself: and had he buffeted me instead of that, as I was afraid he would, I should have thought I ought to have borne it, whether I could or not, and to have returned him his hat with a curtsy. Believe me, madam, I am not a bad, I am only a whimsical creature. I tried my brother once. I set him up. I was afraid of him, indeed. But I tried him again. Then he called it constitution, and laughed at me, and run me out of breath in my own way. So I let him alone. Lord L. Lady L. had it in turn. Lord G. has a little more than his turn perhaps: And why? because he is for ever fitting the cap to his head; and because I don't love him less than those I am less free with. Come, madam, let me demand your kind thoughts. I will deserve them. Contradiction and opposition, mediators and mediatrices, have carried my playfulness further than it would otherwise have gone. But henceforth your precepts, my brother's, and Miss Byron's, shall not want their weight with me, whether I may show it or not at this Instant. My reign, I am afraid, will be but short. Let the man bear with me a little now-and-then. I am not absolutely ungenerous. If he can but show his love by his forbearance, I will endeavour to reward his forbearance with my love.

She embraced me, and said, That now she attributed to the gaiety of my spirits, and not to perverseness, my till-now unaccountable behaviour. I was sure, said she, that you were more your mother's, than your father's daughter. Let me, when my Lord comes in, see an instance of the behaviour you bid me hope for.

I will try, said I, what can be done—We parted. I went up to my pen; and scribbled down to this place.

This moment my Lord is come in. Into my brother's study is he directly gone. Not a question asked about me. Sullen! I warrant. He used to pay his duty to me, and ask blessing the moment he came in, if admissible [Is that a word, Harriet?]: But times are altered. Ah, Harriet! when I know I am saucy, I can bear negligence and slight: But when I intend to be good, knowing my own heart to be right, I shall be quite saucy if he is sullen. Is not the duty of wedded people reciprocal?—Aunt Eleanor and he are talking together. She is endeavouring, I suppose, to make a Philosopher of him. "Promise nothing for me, aunt Nell. I will have the whole merit of my own reformation."

Volume V - lettera 16

Volume V - Letter 17


Prepare, Harriet, to hear strange and wonderful things.

My Lord sent up his compliments, and desired to know, if he might attend me. I was in my dressing-room. He was not always so polite. I wish, thought I, since displeasure produces respect, that familiarity does not spoil this man. But I'll try him.

I shall be glad to see my Lord, was the answer I returned.

Up he came, one leg dragg'd after the other. Not alert, as he used to be on admission to his Charlotte. The last eight stairs his steps founded, I, go, up, with, an, hea-vy, heart. He entered; bowed: Were the words yours, You should be glad to see me, madam?

They were, my Lord.

Would to God you said truth!

I did. I am glad to see you. I wanted to talk with you—About this Northamptonshire visit?

Are you in earnest, madam, to make that visit?

I am. Miss Byron is not well. Emily pines to see her as much as I. You have no objection?

He was silent.

Do you set out, to-morrow, Sir, for Windsor and Oxford?

He sighed. I think so, madam.

Shall you visit Lord W.?

I shall.

And complain to him of me, my Lord?—He shook his grave head, as if there were wisdom in it—Be quiet, Harriet—Not good all at once—That would not be to hold it.

No, madam, I have done complaining to any-body. You will one day see you have not acted generously by the man who loves you as his own soul.

This, and his eyes glistening, moved me—Have we not been both wrong, my Lord?

Perhaps we have, madam: But here is the difference—I have been wrong, with a right intention: You have been wrong, and studied to be so.

Prettily said—Repeat it, my Lord—How was it? And I took his hand, and looked very graciously.

I cannot bear these airs of contempt.

If you call them so, you are wrong, my Lord, tho', perhaps, intending to be right.

He did not see how good I was disposed to be. As I said, a change all at once would have been unnatural.

Very well, madam! and turned from me with an air half-grieved, half-angry.

Only answer me, my Lord; are you willing I should go to Northamptonshire?

If you choose to go, I have no objection. Miss Byron is an angel.

Now, don't be perverse, Lord G. Don't praise Miss Byron at the expense of somebody else.

Would to heaven, madam—

I wish so too—And I put my hand before his mouth—So kindly!

He held it there with both his, and kissed it. I was not offended. But do you actually set out for Windsor and Oxford to-morrow, my Lord?

Not, madam, if you have any commands for me.

Why, now, that's well said. Has your Lordship any-thing to propose to me?

I could not be so welcome as your escorte, as I am sure I should be to Miss Byron and her friends, as her guest.

You could not! How can you say so, my Lord? You would do me both honour and pleasure.

What would I give, that you mean what you say!

I do mean it, my Lord—My hand upon it—I held out my hand for his. He snatched it; and I thought would have devoured it.

We will take the coach, my Lord, that I may have your company all the way.

You equally astonish and delight me, madam! Is it possible that you are—

Yes, yes, don't, in policy, make it such a wonder, that I am disposed to be what I ought to be.

I shall be too, too, too happy! sobbed the man.

No, no! I'll take care of that. Married folks, brought up differently, of different humours, inclinations, and so-forth, never can be too happy. Now I intend to put up all our little quarrels in my work-bag [You know I am a worker: Not quite so bad, at worst, as some modern wives]: There they shall lie, till we get to Miss Byron's—I revere the character of Mrs. Shirley, my Harriet's grandmother: Mrs. Selby you have seen: Harriet, and you, and I, and the two sages I have named, will get together in some happy hour. Then I will open my work-bag, and take out our quarrels one by one, and lay them on the table before us; and we will be determined by their judgments.

My dear Lady G. if you think there is any-thing amiss in your behaviour to me, or in mine to you, let us spread the faults on your toilette now; and we shall go down to Northamptonshire all love and harmony, and delight those excellent—

Always prescribing, my Lord!—O these men!—Why will you not let me have my own way?—Have not all these good folks heard of our folly? And shall they not be witnesses of our wisdom? If they are not at the agreement, they will wonder how it came about.—I tell you, Sir, that they shall have an opportunity to laugh at us both; at me, for my flippancy; at you, for your petulance. I will be sorry, you shall be ashamed, that quarrels so easily made up, and where the heart of either is not bad, should subsist a quarter of an hour, and be perpetually renewing. I will have my own way, I tell you.

Don't make me look like a fool, madam, before such Ladies as those, if we do visit them.

I must have my jest, my Lord. You know (for have you not try'd it?) that I can have patience—Let me see—Is that the hat that you pulled off with an air so lately?—Pish! How your countenance falls! I am not angry with you. But don't do so again, if you can help it—I must have my jest, I say: But assure yourself of the first place in my heart—What more would the man have?

O madam! nothing, nothing more! And he kissed my hand on one knee, with a rapture, that he never could have known, had we always been quiet, easy, and drowsy, like some married folks, whom the world calls happy.

But then the man came out with his gew-gaw japan-china taste. Why, why is it the privilege of people of quality now, to be educated in such a way, that their time can hardly ever be worthily filled up; and as if it were a disgrace to be either manly or useful? He began to talk of equipage, and such nonsense; but I cut him short, by telling him, that I must have my whole way on this occasion—Our visit is to be a private one, said I. We will have only the coach. Jenny shall attend on Emily and me. No other female servant. Two men: We will have no more. I will not have so much as your French-horn. We go to the land of harmony. Kings sometimes travel incog. We will ape kings, when they put off royalty. Will not this thought gratify your pride?—You, my Lord, have some foibles to be cured of, as well as I.—We shall be wonderfully amended, both of us, by this excursion.

Poor man! His heart was as light as a feather. Upon my word, my dear, I begin to think, that if my Lord and master had been a wise man, I should not have known what to do with him. Yet I will not forgive any one but myself, who finds him out to be other-wise.

He told me, in raptures of joy, that I should direct every-thing as I pleased. God grant that I might not change my mind, as to the visit! He hoped I was in earnest; and looked now-and-then at me, as if he questioned it.

But what do you think the man did? He retired; came back presently; called me his dearest life; and said, That it was possible I might want to have an opportunity given me to make some presents, or to furnish myself with trinkets of one nature or other, against I set out; and he should be very sorry, if, by his inattention, I were obliged to ask him for the means to show the natural liberality of my spirit in the way I thought best to exert it; and then he begged me to accept of that note, putting into my hand a bank note of 500 l.

I stepped to my closet, and as instantly returned. This, my Lord, said I, is a most cruel reflexion upon me. It looks as if I were to be bribed to do my duty—There, my Lord! Take back your present. I will endeavour to be good without it—And as a proof that I will, you must not only receive back your favour (tho' I look upon it as such, and from my heart thank you for it) but take, as your right, this note which Lord W. presented to me on the day you received me as yours.

He held back both hands, gratefully reluctant.

You must, you shall, take both notes, my Lord. I only wanted a fit opportunity to put Lord W's note into your hands before. It was owing to my flippant folly, and not to your want of affection, that I had not that opportunity sooner. Bear with me now-and-then, if I should be silly again. Complain of me only to myself. My heart, I re-assure you, is yours, and yours only. I was not willing that you should owe to any other person's interposition, my declarations of affection and regard to you, not even to Miss Byron (tho' I talked of my work-bag) whom I love as my own sister.

The worthy man was in ecstasies. He could not express in words the joy of his heart. He kneeled, and wrapped his arms about my waist; and sobbed his request to me to forgive his petulance, and the offences he had ever given me, by any acts of passion, or words of anger.

You have not offended me, my Lord. Forgive my past follies, and my future failures. When you were most angry, I wondered at your patience. Had I been you, I should not have borne what you bore with me.

For God's sake, madam, take back both notes. We can have but one interest. You will make me easier, when I know that you have power in your hands to gratify every wish of your heart.

You must, you shall, my Lord, take these notes. I will apply to you whenever I have occasion, and receive your favours, as such. I wish not to be independent of you. I have a handsome sum by me, the moiety of the money that was my mother's, which my brother divided between my sister and me, when he first came over. Is not the settlement made upon me more than my brother asked, or thought I should expect? Did he not oppose so large an annuity for pin-money, as your father, Lady Gertrude, and you, would have me accept of, because he thought that such a large allowance might make a wife independent of her husband, and put it out of his power, with discretion, to oblige her? My brother, in an instance glorious to him, said, That he would not be a richer man than he ought to be. In such instances I will be his sister.

Aunt Nell joined us. My Lord, in transports, told her what had passed. The good old soul took the merit of the reformation to herself. She wept over us. She rejoiced to hear of our intended journey to Northamptonshire. My Lord proposed to have the house he had taken fitted up to my liking, while we were away. At his desire I promised to see it in his company, and give my opinion of his designed alterations. But as I know he has judgment in nick-knackatories, and even as much as I wish him in what is called taste, I intend to compliment him with leaving all to him; and resolve to be satisfied with whatever he does.

And now is the good man so busy, so pleased, so important! Bless me, my dear! Who would rob the honest man of any part of his merit; or even divide it with him?

And what, Harriet, do you say to me now?—In a week's time I shall be with you. Be sure be cheerful, and well; or I shall be ready to question my welcome.

This moment, having let Dr. Bartlett into our intended visit, he has offered to accompany us. Now shall we, I know, be doubly welcome. The Doctor, Emily, my Lord G. and your Charlotte, will be happy in one coach. The Doctor is prodigiously pleased with me. What is the text? More joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety-and-nine just persons, who need it not.

I long to see you, and every one of the family, so deservedly dear to you! God give you health; and us no worse news from Italy than we have yet had; and how happy shall we be!—Lord and Lady L. wish they could be of the party. They are in love with me now. Emily says, she dotes upon me. I begin to think that there is almost as much pleasure in being good, as in teasing. Yet a little roguery rises now-and-then in the heart of


June 8.

The Doctor has been so good (I believe because I am good) as to allow me to take a copy of a Letter of my brother's to that wretch Everard; but for your perusal only. I inclose it, therefore, under that restriction. Let it speak its own praises.

We are actually preparing to be your guests. You will only have time to forbid us, if we shall not be welcome.

Merciful! what a packet!


Volume V - lettera 17

Volume V - Letter 18


Bologna, June 4. N. S.

What can I do for my cousin? Why would he oppress me with so circumstantial an account of the heavy evil that has befallen him, and not point out a way by which I could comfort or relieve him? Don't be afraid of what you call the severity of my virtue. I should be ready to question the rectitude of my own heart, if, on examination, I had not reason to hope, that charity is the principal of those virtues which you attribute to me. You recriminate enough upon yourself. In what way I can extricate or assist you, is now my only question?

You ask my advice, in relation to the payment of the debts which the world call debts of honour; and for which you have asked, and are granted three months time. Have you not, Sir, strengthened your engagement by your request? And have not they entitled themselves to the performance, by their compliance with it?

The obligation which rashness, and, perhaps, surprise, laid you under, your deliberation has confirmed.

You say, that your new creditors are men of the town, sharpers, and gamesters. But, my cousin, how came you among such? They came not to you. I say not this to upbraid you: But I must not have you deceive yourself. Who but a man's self is to suffer by his rashness or inconsideration? They are reputed to have been possessed of fortunes, however they came by them, which would have enabled them to answer the stakes they played for, had they been the losers: And would you not have exacted payment from them, had you been the winner? Did you at the time suspect loaded dice, or foul play? You are not, Sir, a novice in the ways of the town. If you had good proof of what, from the ill success you seem only to suspect, I should not account the debts incurred debts of honour; and should hardly scruple, had I not indirectly promised payment, by asking time for it, or had they refused to give it, to call in to my aid the laws of my country; and the rather, as the appeal to those laws would be a security to me, against ever again being seen in such company.

Adversity is the trial of principle: Without it, a man hardly knows whether he is an honest man. Two things my cousin, in his present difficulties, must guard against; the one, that he do not suffer himself to be prevailed upon, in hopes to retrieve his losses, to frequent the tables by which he has suffered; and so become one of the very men he has so much reason to wish he had avoided [Who would not rather be the sufferer than the defrauder? What must be the nature of that man, who, having himself been ruined, will endeavour to draw in other innocent men to their ruin?].

The other that he do not permit prior and worthier creditors (creditors from valuable considerations) to suffer by the distresses in which he has involved himself.

It is a hard decision: But were I my cousin, I would divest myself of my whole estate (were it necessary) for the satisfaction of my creditors; and leave it to their generosity, to allow me what pittance they pleased for subsistence; and within that pittance would I live, not only for justice sake, but (were my difficulties owing to my own inconsideration) as a just punishment for not being satisfied with my own ampler fortune, and for putting to hazard a certainty, in hopes of obtaining a share in the property of others. Excuse me, my dear Everard; I mean not particular reflexion; but only to give you my notion of general justice in cases of this nature.

Acquit yourself worthily of these difficulties. I consider you as my brother: And you shall be welcome to take with me a brother's part of my estate, till you can be restored to a competency.

But with regard to the woman whom the infamous Lord B. would impose upon you as a wife, that is an imposition to which you must not submit. Had she been the poorest honest girl in Britain, and you had seduced her, by promises of marriage, I must have made it the condition of our continued friendship, that you had married her. But a kept-woman!—Let not HER, Let not the bad man, have such a triumph. I know his character well: I know his dependance on the skill of his arm. And I know his litigious spirit, and the use he is capable of making of his privilege. But regard not these: Let me advise you, Sir, after you have secured to your creditors the payment of their just debts, to come over to me: The sooner the better. By this means you will be out of the way of being disturbed by the menaces of this Lord, and the machinations of this woman. We will return together. I will make your case my own. Both the courage, and the quality, of the man who can be unjust, are to be despised. Is not Lord B. an unjust man in every article of his dealings with men? Do not you, my dear cousin, be so in any-one; and you will ever command the true fraternal love of


Volume V - lettera 18

Volume V - Letter 19


Selby-house, Friday, June 16.

Here we are, my Caroline: And the happiest people in the world should we be, if Harriet were but well, my brother in England, and you and Lord L. with us.

Mrs. Selby, Lucy, Nancy, Harriet, met us at Stony-Stratford, escorted by uncle Selby, and his kinsman James.

My Lord and I were Dear, Love, and Life, all the journey. I was the sweetest-tempered creature!—Joyful people are not always wise ones. When the heart is open, silly things will be said; any-thing, in short, that comes uppermost. I kindly allowed for my Lord's joy, on twenty occasions. I smiled when he smiled, laughed-out when he laughed out, did not talk to any-body else when he directed his discourse to me; so that the honest man crowed all the way. It is a charming thing, thought I several times, to be on a foot of good understanding with each other; for now I can call him honest man, or any names, that lately would have made him prance and caper; and he takes every-thing kindly: Nay, two or three times he called me honest woman; but laughed and looked round him at the time, as if he were conscious that he had made a bold, as well as witty retort.

Let me tell you, Lady L. that I intend to give him signs when he exceeds, and other signs when he is right and clever; and I will accept of signs from him, that he may not be affronted. I am confident that we shall be in time an amazing happy couple.

Emily was rejoiced to see her equally beloved and revered Miss Byron. Miss Byron embraced Emily with the affection of a sister. My honest man kissed Miss Byron's hand on one knee, in the fervour of his love and gratitude; for I had let him know, that he owed much of his present happiness to her. She congratulated him whisperingly, in my hearing, on my being good.

James Selby almost wept for love over Emily's hand; while Emily looked as sleek and as shy as a bird new-caught, for fear of being thought to give him encouragement, after what you may remember passed between them at Dunstable.

Aunt Selby, Lucy, Nancy, were all rapture to see us: We to see them. We were mother and sisters the moment we were seated. Uncle Selby began to crack his jokes upon me in the first half-hour. I spared him not: And Lord G. will fare the better for him; since I must have somebody to play the rogue with. Dr. Bartlett was the revered of every heart. By the way, I am in high credit with that good man, for my behaviour to my Lord.

Miss Byron received him with open arms, and even, as her father, with an offered cheek: And the modest man was so much affected by her filial regard for him, that I was obliged, for our own sakes, to whisper her, to rein-in her joy to see him, that we might have the pleasure of hearing him talk.

When we arrived at Selby-house, our joy was renewed, as if we had not seen each other at Stratford.

O, I should have told you, that in our journey from Stratford hither, aunt Selby, Harriet, Emily, and I, were in one coach: And I had, as we went on, a great deal of good instruction insinuated to me, by way of felicitation, on my being so very kind and obliging to Lord G. And, as if I had been a child (corrected for being untoward) they endeavoured to coax me into a perseverance in what they called my duty. Aunt Selby, on this occasion, performed the maternal part with so much good sense, and her praise and her cautions were so delicately insinuated, that I began to think, it was almost as pretty to be good as to be saucy.

Upon the whole, I really believe Lord G. will have reason to rejoice, as long as he lives, that he was ruled by his wife, in changing his Windsor and Oxford journey for this of Northamptonshire. So right a thing is it for men to be governable; and, perhaps, you'll add, for women to keep good company.

Lord L. thinks you, my sage sister, so good already, that you need not be better, or I would wish him to send you down to Selby-house.

Well may Harriet revere her grandmother. That venerable woman is good in every sense of the word. She is pious, charitable, benevolent, affectionate, condescending to the very foibles of youth; cheerful, wise, patient under the infirmities of age, having outlived all her wishes but one; which is, to see her Harriet happily married: And then, she says, she hopes to be soon released. Never could she be so much admired in her blooming youth, tho' she was then, it seems, deservedly celebrated, both for her mind and person, as she is now in her declining age.

You have seen and admire Mrs. Selby. She rises upon me every hour. It gives one's heart joy, Lady L. to look forward, beyond the age of youth and flutter, when we see by these Ladies, that women in their advanced years may, to express myself in the style of Sir Rowland Meredith, be good for something; or still better, that the matronly time of female life, is by far the most estimable of all the stages of it; if they make good wives, good mistresses, and good mothers: And, let me say, good aunts; were it but to keep in countenance aunt Gertrude and aunt Nell; who, good souls! will now hardly ever be mothers.

Lucy is an excellent young creature. Nancy, when Lucy is not present, is as excellent. Her cousins Kitty and Patty Holles are agreeable young women.

James Selby is a good sort of blundering well-meaning great boy; who, when he has lived a few years longer, may make much such a good sort of man, as my Lord G. There's for you, my once catechising sister! Pray be as ready to praise, as you used to be to blame me. I find duty and love growing fast upon me. I shall get into a custom of bringing in Lord G. on every occasion that will do him credit: And then I shall be like Lady Betty Clemson; who is so perpetually dinning the ears of her guests with her domestic superlatives, that we are apt to suspect the truth of all she says.

But Harriet, our dear Harriet is not at all well. She visibly falls away; and her fine complexion fades. Mr. Deane was here a week ago; and Lucy tells me, was so much startled at the alteration in her lovely countenance, that he broke from her, and shed tears to Lucy. This good girl and Nancy lament to each other the too-visible change: But when they are with the rest of the family, they all seem afraid to take notice of it to one another. She herself takes generous pains to be lively, cheerful, and unapprehensive, for fear of giving concern to her grandmother and aunt; who will sometimes sit and contemplate the alteration, sigh, and, now-and-then, drop a silent tear, which, however, they endeavour to smile off, to avoid notice. I have already observed, that as these good Ladies sit in her company, they watch in silent love every turn of her mild and patient eye, every change of her charming countenance; for they too well know to what to impute the inward malady, which has approached the best of hearts; and they know that the cure cannot be within the art of the physician. They, as we do, admire her voice, and her playing. They ask her for a song, for a lesson on her harpsichord.

She plays, she sings, at the very first word. In no one act of cheerfulness does she refuse to join. Her grandmother and her aunt Selby frequently give a private ball. The old Lady delights to see young people cheerful and happy. She is always present and directs the diversion; for she has a fine taste. We are often to have these Balls, for our entertainment. Miss Byron, her cousins say, knowing the delight her grandmother takes in these amusements, for the sake of the young people, to whom she considers it as a healthful exercise, as well as diversion, is one of the alertest in them. She excuses not herself, nor encourages that supineness that creeps on, and invades a heart ill at ease. Yet every-one sees, that solitude and retirement are her choice; tho' she is very careful to have it supposed otherwise; and, on the first summons, hastens into company, and joins in the conversation. O she is a lovely, and beloved young creature! I think verily, that tho' she was the admiration of every-body, when she was with us, yet she is, if possible, more amiable at home, and among her own relations. Her uncle Selby raillies her sometimes. But respect, as well as love, are visible in his countenance, when he does: In her returns sweetness and reverence are mingled. She never forgets that the raillier is her uncle; yet her delicacy is not more apparent, than that she is mistress of fine talents in that way; but often restrains them, because she has far more superior ones to value herself upon. And is not this the case with my brother also?—Not so, I am afraid, with your Charlotte.

All her friends, however, rejoice in our visit to them, for her sake. They compliment me on my lively turn; and hope for a happy effect on Miss Byron from it.

I cannot accuse her of reserve to me. She owns her Love for our brother as frankly as she used to do, after we had torn the secret from her bosom at Colnebrooke. She acknowledges to me, that she glories in it, and will not try to conquer it; because she is sure the trial will be to no purpose; an excuse, by the way, that if the conquest be necessary, would better become the mouth of your Charlotte than that of our Harriet: And so I have told her.

She prays for the restoration of Lady Clementina, and recovery of Signor Jeronymo. She loves to talk of the whole Italian family; and yet seems fully assured that Clementina will be the happy woman. But, surely, Harriet must be our sister. She values herself upon my brother's so solemnly requesting and claiming her friendship. True Friendship, she but this morning argued with me, being disinterested, and more intellectual than personal, is nobler than Love. Love, she said, does not always ripen into Friendship, as is too frequently seen in wedlock.

But does not the dear creature refine too much when she argues thus? A calm and easy kind of esteem, is all I have to judge from in my matrimony. I know not what Love is. At the very highest, and when I was most a fool, my motive was supposed convenience (in order to be freed from the apprehended tyranny of a father); and that never carried me beyond liking. But you, Lady L. were an adept in the passion. Pray tell me, if there be a difference between Love and Friendship, which is the noblest? Upon my opposing you and Lord L. (so truly one mind) to her argument, she said, That yours is Love mellowed into Friendship, upon full proof of the merit of each: But, that there was a time, that the flame was Love only, founded in hope of the merit; and the proof might have been wanting; as it often is, when the hope has been as strong, and seemingly as well founded as in your courtship.

Harriet, possibly, may argue from her own situation, in order to make her heart easy; and my brother is so unquestionably worthy, that Love and Friendship may be one thing, in the bosom of a woman admiring him; since he will not enter into any obligation, that he cannot, that he will not, religiously perform. And if this refinement will make her heart easier, and enable her to allow his Love to be placed elsewhere, because of a prior claim, and of circumstances that call for generous compassion, while she can content herself with the offered Friendship, I think we ought to indulge her in her delicate notions.

Selby-house is a large, convenient, well-furnish'd habitation. To-morrow we are to make a visit, with Lucy and Nancy, to their branch of the Selby Family. James is gone before. Those two girls are orphans: But their grandmother, by their mother's side (a good old Lady, mother-in-law to Mr. Selby) lives with them, or, rather, they with her; and loves them.

On our return, we are to have our first private Ball, at Shirley-manor; a fine old seat, which, already, the benevolent owner calls her Harriet's; with an estate of about 500 l. a year round it.

Adieu, my dear Lady L.—My Lord and you, I hope, will own me now. Yet are you not sometimes surprised at the suddenness of my reformation? Shall I tell you how it came about? To own the truth, I began to find the man could be stout. "Charlotte, thought I, what are you about? You mean not to continue for ever your playful folly. You have no malice, no wickedness, in your sauciness; only a little levity: It may grow into habit:—Make your retreat while you can with honour; before you harden the man's heart, and find your reformation a matter of indifference to him. You have a few good qualities; are not a modern woman; have neither wings to your shoulders, nor gad-fly in your cap: You love home. At present the honest man loves you. He has no vices. Every one loves you; but all your friends are busy upon your conduct. You will estrange them from you. The man will not be a King Log—Be you a prudent Frog, lest you turn him into a Stork. A weak man, if you suppose him weak, made a tyrant, will be an insupportable thing. I shall make him appear weak in the eyes of every-body else, when I have so much grace left, as would make me rise against any one who should let me know they thought him so. My brother will be reflected upon for his solicitude to carry me to church with a man, whom I shall make the world think I despise. Harriet will renounce me. My wit will be thought folly. Does not the suckling Emily, does not the stale virgin, aunt Eleanor, think they have a right to blame, entreat, instruct me? I will be good of choice, and make my duty received as a favour. I have travelled a great way in the road of perverseness. I see briars, thorns, and a pathless track, before me. I may be benighted: The day is far gone. Serpents may be in the brakes. I will get home as fast as I can; and rejoice every one, who now only wonder what is become of me."

These, Lady L, were some of my reasonings. Make your advantage of them against me, if you can. You see that your grave wisdom had some weight with my light folly. Allow a little for constitution now-and-then; and you shall not have cause to be ashamed of your sister.

Let me conclude this subject, half one way, half t'other—that is to say, half serious, half roguish: If my Lord would but be cured of his taste for trifles and nick-knacks, I should, possibly, be induced to consider him as a man of better understanding than I once thought him: But who can forbear, sometimes, to think slightly of a man, who, by effeminacies, and a Shell and China taste, undervalues himself? I hope I shall cure him of these foibles; and, if I can, I shall consider him as a work of my own hands, and be proud of him, in compliment to myself.

Let my aunt Eleanor (no more Nell, if I can help it) know how good I continue to be. And now I will relieve you and myself, with the assurance that I am, and ever will be, notwithstanding yours and Lord L's past severity to me,

Your truly affectionate Sister,
CH. G.

Volume V - lettera 19

Volume V - Letter 20


Selby-house, Monday, July 24

(Note: Several letters, written in the space between the last date, June 16, and the present, which give an account of their diversions, visits, entertainments, at Selby-house, Shirley-manor, &c. are omitted.)

Lord bless me, my dear, what shall we do! My brother, in all probability, may, by this time!—But I cannot, cannot tell how to suppose it!—Ah the poor Harriet! The three Letters from my brother, which, by the permission of Dr. Bartlett, I inclose, will show you, that the Italian affair is now at a crisis.

Read them in this place; and return them sealed up, and directed for the Doctor.

Volume V - lettera 20

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