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THE HISTORY OF
Volume VI - Letter 1
LADY CLEMENTINA TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Bologna, Monday, Sept. 15. N. S.
How welcome to me was your Letter from Lyons! My good Chevalier Grandison, my heart thanks you for it: Yet it was possible that heart could have been still more thankful, had I not observed in your Letter an air of pensiveness, tho' it is endeavoured to be concealed. What pain would it give me to know, that you suffer on my account!—But no more in this strain: A complaining one must take place.
O Chevalier, I am persecuted! And by whom? By my dearest, my nearest friends. I was afraid it would be so. Why, why, would you deny me your influence, when I importuned you for it? Why would you not stay among us, till you saw me professed? Then had I been happy—In time, I should have been happy!—Now am I beset with entreaties, with supplications, from those who ought to command;—yet unlawfully, if they did: I presume to think so: Since parents, tho' they ought to be consulted in the change of condition, as to the person; yet surely should not oblige the child to marry, who chooses to be single all her life. A more cogent reason may be pleaded, and I do plead it to my relations, as Catholics, as I wish for nothing so much as to assume the veil.—But you are a Protestant: You favour not a Divine dedication, and would not plead for me. On the contrary, you have strengthened their hands!—O Chevalier! how could you do so, and ever love me! Did you not know, there was but one way to escape the grievous consequences of the importunities of those who justly lay claim to my obedience?—And they do claim it.
And in what forcible manner, claim it!—Shall I tell you? Thus, then: My father, with tears in his eyes, beseeches me! My mother gently reminds me of what she has suffered for me in my illness; and declares, that it is in my power to make the rest of her days happy: Nor shall she think my own tranquility of mind secured, till I oblige her!—O Chevalier! what pleas are these from a father, whose eyes plead more strongly than words: and from a mother, on whose bright days I cast a cloud!—The Bishop pleads: How can a Catholic Bishop plead, and not for me? The General declares, that he never wooed his beloved wife for her consent with more fervour than he does me for mine, to oblige them all. Nay, Jeronymo! Blush, sisterly love! to say it—Jeronymo, your friend Jeronymo, is solicitous on the same side—Even Father Marescotti is carried away by the example of the Bishop.—Mrs. Beaumont argues with me in their favour.—And Camilla, who was ever full of your praises, teases me continually.
They name not the man: They pretend to leave me free to choose through the world. They plead, that, zealous as they are in the Catholic faith, they were so earnest for me to enter into the state, that they were desirous to see me the wife even of a Protestant, rather than I should remain single: And they remind me, that it was owing to my scruple only, that this was not effected.—But why, why will they weaken rather than strengthen my scruple? Could I have got over three points—The sense of my own unworthiness, after my mind had been disturbed; The insuperable apprehension, that, drawn aside by your Love, I should probably have ensnared my own Soul: and that I should be perpetually lamenting the certainty of the loss of his whom it would be my duty to love as my own; their importunity would hardly have been wanted.
Tell me advise me, my good Chevalier, my fourth brother (You are not now interested in the debate) if I may not lawfully stand out? Tell me, as I know that I cannot answer their views, except I marry, and yet cannot consent to marry, whether I may not as well sequester myself from the world, and insist upon so doing?
What, what can I do?—I am distressed—O thou, my Brother, my Friend, whom my heart ever must hold dear, advise me! To you I have told them I will appeal. They are so good as to promise to suspend their solicitations, if I will hold suspended my thoughts of the veil till I have your advice.—But give it not against me—If you ever valued Clementina, Give it not against her!
LA STORIA DI
Volume VI - lettera 1
Volume VI - Letter 2
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO LADY CLEMENTINA.
London, Monday, Sept. 18—29.
What can I say, most excellent of women, to the contents of the Letter you have honoured me with? What a task have you imposed upon me! You take great, and, respecting your intentions, I will call it, kind care, to let me know that I can have no interest in the decision of the case you refer to me. I repeat my humble acquiescence; but must again declare, that it would have been next to impossible to do so, had you not made a point of conscience of your scruples. But what weight is my advice likely to have with a young Lady, who repeatedly, in the close of her Letter, desires me not to give it for her parents? I, madam, am far from being unprejudiced in this case. For can the man who once himself hoped for the honour of your hand, advise you against Marriage?—Are not your parents generously indulgent, when they name not any particular person to you? I applaud both their wisdom and their goodness, on this occasion. Possibly, you guess the man whom they would recommend to your choice: And I am sure, Lady Clementina would not refuse their recommendation merely because it was theirs. Nor indeed upon any less reason than an unconquerable aversion, or a preference to some other Catholic. A Protestant, it seems, it cannot be. But let me ask my Sister, my Friend, What answer can I return to the Lady who had shown, in one instance, that she had not an insuperable aversion to Matrimony; yet on conscientious reasons refusing one man, and not particularly favouring any, can scruple to oblige (obey is not the word they use) 'a Father, who with tears in his eyes beseeches her; a Mother who gently reminds her of what she has suffered for her; who declares, that it is in her power to make the rest of her days happy; and who urges a still stronger plea respecting them both, and the whole family, to engage the attention of the beloved daughter?'—O madam, what pleas are those (Let me still make use of your own pathetic words) from a Father whose eyes plead more strongly than words! and from a Mother, over whose bright days you had (tho' involuntarily) cast a cloud!—Your Brother the Bishop, a man of piety; your Confessor, a man of equal piety; your two other Brothers, your disinterested Friend Mrs. Beaumont; your faithful Camilla; all wholly disinterested.'—What an enumeration against yourself.—Forbidden, as I am. to give the cause against you, what can I say? Dearest Lady Clementina, can I, on your own representation, give it for you? You know, madam, the sacrifice I have made to the plea of your conscience, not my own. I make no doubt, but parents so indulgent as yours, will yield to your reasons, if you can plead conscience against the performance of the filial duty; the more a duty, as it is so gently urged: Nay, hardly urged; but by tears, and wishes, which the eyes, not the lips, express; and which if you will perform, your parents will think themselves under an obligation to their child. Lady Clementina is one of the most generous of women: But consider, madam, in this instance of preferring your own will to that of the most indulgent of parents, whether there is not an apparent selfishness, inconsistent with your general character, even were you to be as happy in a convent, as you propose. Would you not, in that case, live to yourself, and renounce your parents and family, as parts of that world which you would vow to despise?—Dear Lady! I asked you once before, Is there any thing sinful in a Sacrament? Such all good Catholics deem Matrimony. And shall I ask you, Whether, as self-denial is held to be meritorious in your church, there is not a merit in denying yourself in the case before us, when you can, by performing the filial duty, oblige your whole family? Permit me to say, that tho' a Protestant, I am not an enemy to such foundations in general. I could wish, under proper regulations, that we had Nunneries among us. I would not, indeed, have the obligation upon Nuns be perpetual: Let them have liberty, at the end of every two or three years, to renew their vows, or otherwise, by the consent of friends. Celibacy in the Clergy is an indispensable law of your church: Yet a Cardinal has been allowed to lay down the purple, and marry. You know, madam, I must mean Ferdinand of Medicis. Family-reasons, in that case, preponderated, as well at Rome, as at Florence. Of all the women I know, Lady Clementina della Porretta should be the last who should be earnest to take the veil. There can be but two persons in the world, besides herself, who will not be grieved at her choice. We know their reasons. The will of her grandfathers, now with God, is against her; and her living parents, and every other person of her family, those two excepted, would be made unhappy, if she sequestered herself from the world, and them. Clementina has charity: She wishes, she once said, to take a great revenge upon Laurana. Laurana has something to repent of: Let her take the veil. The fondness she has for the world, a fondness which could make her break through all the ties of relation, and humanity, requires a check: But are any of those in convents more pious, more exemplary pious, than Clementina is, out of them? Much more could I urge on the same side of the question; but what I have urged has been a task upon me; a task which I could not have performed, had I not preferred to my own, the happiness of you and your family. May both earthly and heavenly blessings attend your determination, whatever it be, prays, dearest madam.
Your ever-faithful Friend,
Volume VI - lettera 2
Volume VI - Letter 3
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO SIGNOR JERONYMO DELLA PORRETTA.
London, Sat. Sept. 18-29.
I have written, my beloved friend, to Lady Clementina; and shall inclose a copy of my Letter.
I own, that, till I received hers, I thought there was a possibility, tho' not a probability, that she might change her mind in my favour. I foresaw that you would all join, for family-reasons, to press her to marry: And when, thought I, she finds herself very earnestly urged, it is possible, that she will forego her scruples, and, proposing some conditions for herself, will honour with her hand the man whom she has avowedly honoured with a place in her heart, rather than any other. The malady she has been afflicted with, often leaves, for some time, an unsteadiness in the mind: My absence, as I proposed to settle in my native country, never more, perhaps, to return to Italy; the high notions she has of obligation and gratitude; her declared confidence in my honour and affection; all co-operating, she may, thought I, change her mind; and if she does, I cannot doubt the favour of her friends. It was not, my Jeronymo, presumptuous to hope. It was justice to Clementina to attend the event, and to wait for the promised Letter: But now, that I see you are all of one mind, and that the dear Lady, tho' vehemently urged by all her friends to marry some other man, can appeal to me, only as to her fourth Brother, and a man not interested in the event—I give up all my hopes.
I have written accordingly to your dear Clementina; but it could not be expected, that I should give the argument all the weight that might be given it: Yet, being of opinion that she was in duty obliged to yield to the entreaties of all her friends, I have been honest. But surely no man ever was involved in so many difficult situations as your Grandison; who yet never, by enterprise or rashness, was led out of the plain path into difficulties so uncommon.
You wish, my dear friend, that I would set an example to your excellent sister. I will unbosom my heart to you.
There is a Lady, an English Lady, beautiful as an Angel, but whose beauty is her least perfection, either in my eyes, or her own: Had I never known Clementina, I could not have loved her, and only her, of all the women I ever beheld. It would not be doing her justice, if I could not say, I do love her; but with a flame as pure as the heart of Clementina, or as her own heart, can boast. Clementina's distressed mind affected me: I imputed her sufferings to her esteem for me. The farewell interview denied her, she demonstrated, I thought, so firm an affection for me, at the same time that she was to me, what I may truly call, a first Love; that, though the difficulties in my way seemed insuperable. I thought it became me, in honour, in gratitude, to hold myself in suspense, and not offer to make my addresses to any other woman, till the destiny of the dear Clementina was determined.
It would look like vanity in me to tell my Jeronymo how many proposals, from the partial friends of women of rank and merit superior to my own, I thought myself obliged, in honour to the Ladies themselves, to decline: But my heart never suffered uneasiness from the uncertainty I was in of ever succeeding with your beloved sister, but on this Lady's account, I presume not, however, to say, I could have succeeded, had I thought myself at liberty to make my addresses to her: Yet, when I suffered myself to balance, because of my uncertainty with your Clementina, I had hopes, from the interest my two sisters had with her (her affections disengaged), that, had I been at liberty to make my addresses to her, I might.
Shall I, my dear Jeronymo, own the truth?—The two noblest-minded women in the world, when I went over to Italy, on the invitation of my Lord the Bishop, held almost an equal interest in my heart; and I was thereby enabled justly, and with the greater command of myself, to declare to the Marchioness, and the General, at my last going over, that I held myself bound to you; but that your sister, and you all, were free. But when the dear Clementina began to show signs of recovery, and seemed to confirm the hopes I had of her partiality to me; and my gratitude and attachment seemed of importance to her complete restoration; then, my Jeronymo, did I content myself with wishing another husband to the English Lady, more worthy of her than my embarrassed situation could have made me. And when I farther experienced the condescending goodness of your whole family, all united in my favour; I had not a wish but for your Clementina.
What a disappointment, my Jeronymo, was her rejection of me! obliged, as I was, to admire the noble Lady the more for her motives of rejecting me.
And now, my dear friend, what is your wish?—That I shall set your sister an example? How can I? Is marriage in my power? There is but one woman in the world, now your dear Clementina has refused me, that I can think worthy of succeeding her in my affections, tho' there are thousands of whom I am not worthy. And ought that Lady to accept of a man whose heart had been another's, and that other living, and single, and still honouring him with so much of her regard, as may be thought sufficient to attach a grateful heart, and occasion a divided Love? Clementina herself is not more truly delicate than this Lady. Indeed, Jeronymo, I am ready, when I contemplate my situation, on a supposition of making my addresses to her, to give up myself, as the unworthiest of her favour of all the men I know; and she has for an admirer almost every man who sees her—Even Olivia admires her! Can I do justice to the merits of both, and yet not appear to be divided by a double Love?—For I will own to all the world, my affection for Clementina; and, as once it was encouraged by her whole family, glory in it.
You see, my Jeronymo, how I am circumstanced. The example, I fear, must come from Italy; not from England. Yet say I not this for punctilio-sake: It is not in my power to set it, as it is in your Clementina's: It would be presumption to suppose it is, Clementina has not an aversion to the state: She cannot to the man you have in view, since prepossession in favour of another is over—This is a hard push upon me. I presume not to say what Clementina will, what she can do: But she is naturally the most dutiful of children, and has a high sense of the more than common obligations she owes to parents, to brothers, to whom she has as unhappily as involuntarily given great distress: Difference in Religion, the motive of her rejecting me, is not in the question: Filial duty is an article of Religion.
I do myself the honour of writing to the Marchioness, to the General, to Father Marescotti, and to Mr. Lowther. May the Almighty perfect your recovery, my Jeronymo; and preserve in health and spirits the dear Clementina!—and may every other laudable wish of the hearts of a family so truly-excellent, be granted to them!—prays, my dearest Jeronymo, the friend who expects to see you in England; the friend who loves you, as he loves his own heart; and equally honours all of your name; and will, so long as he is
Volume VI - lettera 3
Volume VI - Letter 4
MRS. REEVES TO MISS BYRON.
Tuesday, Sept. 5.
O my dear cousin! I am now sure you will be the happiest of women! Sir Charles Grandison made us a visit this very day.—How Mr. Reeves and I rejoiced to see him! We had but just before been called upon by a line from Lady G. to rejoice with her on her brother's happy arrival. He said, he was under obligation to go to Windsor and Hampshire, upon extraordinary occasions; but he could not go, till he had paid his respects to us, as well for our own sakes, as to enquire after your health. He had received, he said, some disagreeable intimations in relation to it. We told him, you were not well; but we hoped not dangerously ill. He said so many kind, tender, yet respectful things of you—O my Harriet! I am sure, and so is Mr. Reeves, he loves you dearly. Yet we both wondered that he did not talk of paying you a visit. But he may have great matters in hand.—But what matters can be so great as not to be postponed, if he loves you?—and that he certainly does. I should not have known how to contain my joy before him, had he declared himself your Lover.
He condescendingly asked to see my little boy—Was not that very good of him? He would have won my heart by this condescension, had he not had a great share of it before—For your sake, my cousin. You know I cannot mean otherwise: And you know, that, except Mr. Reeves and my little boy, I love my Harriet better than any-body in the world. No-body in Northamptonshire, I am sure, will take exceptions at this.
I thought I would write to you of this kind visit. Be well, now, my dear: All things, I am sure, will come about for good: God grant they may!—I dare say, he will visit you in Northamptonshire: And if he does, what can be his motive? Not mere friendship: Sir Charles Grandison is no trifler!
I know you will be sorry to hear that Lady Betty Williams is in great affliction. Miss Williams has run away with an ensign who is not worth a shilling: He is, on the contrary, over head and cars, as the saying is, in debt. Such a mere girl! But what shall we say?
Miss Cantillon has made as foolish a step. Lord bless me! I think girls, in these days, are bewitched. A nominal captain too: Her mother vows, they shall both starve for her: And they have no other dependence. She can't live without her pleasures: Neither can he without his. A Ranelagh fop. Poor wretches! What will become of them? For every-thing is in her mother's power, as to fortune.—She has been met by Miss Allestree: and looked so shy! so silly! so slatternly! Unhappy coquettish thing!
Well, but God bless you, my dear!—My nursery calls upon me: The dear little soul is so fond of me! Adieu. Compliments to every-body I have so much reason to love: Mr. Reeves's too. Once more, Adieu.
Volume VI - lettera 4
Volume VI - Letter 5
MISS BYRON TO MRS. REEVES
Selby-house, Friday, Sept. 8.
Your kind Letter, my dear cousin, has, at the same time, delighted and pained me. I rejoice in the declared esteem of one of the best of men; and I honour him for his friendly love expressed to you and my cousin, in the visit he made you: But I am pained at your calling upon me (in pity to my weakness, shall I call it? a weakness so ill concealed) to rejoice, that the excellent man, when he has dispatched all his affairs of consequence, and has nothing else to do, may possibly, for you cannot be certain, make me a visit in Northamptonshire.—O my cousin! And were his absence, and the apprehension of his being the husband of another woman, think you, the occasion of my indisposition; that I must now, that the other affair seems determined in a manner so unexpected, be bid at once to be well?
Sir Charles Grandison, my dear cousin, may honour us with the prognosticated visit, or not, as he pleases: But were he to declare himself my Lover, my heart would not be so joyful as you seem to expect, if Lady Clementina is to be unhappy. What tho' the refusal of marriage was hers; was not that refusal the greatest sacrifice that ever woman made to her superior duty? Does she not still avow her Love to him? And must he not, ought he not, ever to love her? And here my pride puts in its claim to attention—Shall your Harriet sit down and think herself happy in a second-place Love? Yet let me own to you, my cousin, that Sir Charles Grandison is dearer to me than all else that I hold most dear in this world: And if Clementina could be not un-happy [Happy I have no notion she can be without him] and he were to declare himself my Lover; Affectation, be gone! I would say; I will trust to my own heart, and to my future conduct, to make for myself an interest in his affections, that should enrich my content; in other words, that should make me more than contented.
But time will soon determine my destiny: I will have patience to wait its determination. I make no doubt but he has sufficient reasons for all he does.
I am as much delighted, as you could be, at the notice he took of your dear infant. The brave must be humane: And what greater instance of humanity can be shown, than for grown persons to look back upon the state they were once themselves in, with tenderness and compassion?
I am very sorry for the cause of Lady Betty's affliction. Pity! the good Lady took not—But I will not be severe, after I have said, that children's faults are not always originally their own.
Poor Miss Cantillon!—But she was not under age; and as her punishment was of her own choosing—I am sorry, however, for both. I hope, after they have smarted, something will be done for the poor wretches. Good parents will be placable; bad ones, or such as have not given good examples, ought to be so.
God continue to you, my dear cousins both, your present comforts, and increase your pleasures! for all your pleasures are innocent ones; prays
Your ever obliged and affectionate,
Volume VI - lettera 5
Volume VI - Letter 6
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Selby-house, Wedn. Sept, 20.
My dearest Lady. G.
Do you know what is become of your brother? My grandmamma Shirely has seen his Ghost; and talked with it near an hour; and then it vanished. Be not surprised, my dear creature. I am still in amaze at the account my grandmamma gives us of its appearance, discourse, and vanishing! Nor was the dear parent in a reverie. It happened in the middle of the afternoon, all in broad day.
Thus she tells it: 'I was sitting, said she, in my own drawing-room, yesterday, by myself; when, in came James, to whom it first appeared, and told me that a gentleman desired to be introduced to me. I was reading Sherlock upon Death, with that cheerfulness with which I always meditate the subject. I gave orders for his admittance; and in came, to appearance, one of the handsomest men I ever saw in my life, in a riding-dress. It was a courteous Ghost: It saluted me; or at least I thought it did: For it answering to the description that you, my Harriet, had given me of that amiable man, I was surprised. But, contrary to the manner of ghosts, it spoke first—Venerable Lady, it called me; and said, its name was Grandison, in a voice—so like what I had heard you spake of it, that I had no doubt but it was Sir Charles Grandison himself; and was ready to fall down to welcome him.
'It took its place by me: You, madam, said it, will forgive this intrusion: And it made several fine speeches, with an air so modest, so manly—It had almost all the talk to itself. I could only bow, and be pleased; for still I thought it was corporally, and indeed, Sir Charles Grandison. It said, that it had but a very little while to stay: It must reach, I don't know what place, that night—What, said I, will you not go to Selby-house? Will you not see my daughter Byron? Will you not see her aunt Selby? No, it desired to be excused. It talked of leaving a packet behind it; and seemed to pull out of its pocket a parcel of Letters sealed up. It broke the seal, and laid the parcel on the table before me. It refused refreshment. It desired in a courtly manner, an answer to what it had discoursed upon—Made a profound reverence—and—vanished.'
And now, my dear Lady G. let me repeat my question; What is become of your brother?
Forgive me, this light, this amusing manner. My grandmamma speaks of this visit as an appearance, so sudden, and so short, and nobody seeing him but she; that it gave a kind of amusing levity to my pen, and I could not resist the temptation I was under to surprise you, as he has done us all. How could he take such a journey, see nobody but my grandmamma, and fly the country? Did he do it to spare us, or to spare himself?
The direct truth is this: My grandmamma was sitting by herself, as above: James told her, as above, that a gentleman desired to be introduced to her. He was introduced. He called himself by his own name; took her hand; saluted her—Your character, madam, and mine, said he, are so well known to each other, that tho' I never before had the honour of approaching you, I may presume upon your pardon for this intrusion.
He then launched out in the praises of your happy friend. With what delight did the dear, the indulgent parent repeat them from his mouth! I hope she mingled not her own partialities with them, whether I deserved them, or not; for sweet is praise, from those we wish to love us. And then he said, You see before you, madam, a man glorying in his affection to one of the most excellent of your Sex; an Italian Lady; the pride of Italy! And who, from motives which cannot be withstood, has rejected him, at the very time that all her friends consenting, and innumerable difficulties overcome, he expected that she would yield her hand to his wishes—And they were his wishes. My friendship for the dear Miss Byron (You and she must authorise me to call it by a still dearer name, before I dare to it) is well known: That also has been my pride. I know too well what belongs to female delicacy in general, and particularly to that of Miss Byron, to address myself first to her, on the subject which occasions you this trouble. I am not accustomed to make professions, not even to Ladies—Is it consistent with your notions of delicacy, madam; Will it be with Mr. and Mrs. Selby's; to give your interest in favour of a man who is thus situated? A rejected man! A man who dares, to own, that the rejection was a disappointment to him; and that he tenderly loved the fair rejecter. If it will, and Miss Byron can accept the tender of a heart that has been divided, unaccountably so (the circumstances, I presume, you know) then will you, then will she, lay me under an obligation that I can only endeavour to repay by the utmost gratitude and affection.—But if not, I shall admire the delicacy of the second refuser, as I do the piety of the first, and, at least, suspend all thoughts of a change of condition.
Noblest of men—And my grandmamma was proceeding in high strains, but very sincere ones; when, interrupting her, and pulling out of his pocket the packet I mentioned above; I presume, madam, said he, that I see favour and goodness to me in your benign countenance: But I will not even be favoured, but upon your full knowledge of all the facts I am master of myself. I will be the guardian of the delicacy of Miss Byron and all her friends in this important case, rather than the discourager, tho' I were to suffer by it. You will be so good as to read these Letters to your daughter Byron, to her Lucy, to Mr. and Mrs. Selby, and to whom else you will think fit to call to the consultation: They will be those, I presume, who already know something of the history of the excellent Clementina. If, on the perusal of them, I may be admitted to pay my respects to Miss Byron, consistently, as I hinted, with her notions and yours of that delicacy by which she was always directed, and at the same time be received with that noble frankness which has distinguished her in my eye above all women but one (Excuse me, madam, I must always put these sister-souls upon an equal foot of excellence); then shall I be a happier man than the happiest. Your answer, madam, by pen and ink, will greatly oblige me; and the more, the sooner I can be favoured with it; because, being requested by my friends abroad to set an example to their beloved Clementina, as you will see in more than one of these Letters; I would avoid all punctilio, and let them know, that I had offered myself to Miss Byron, and have not been mortified with absolute denial; if I may be so happy as to be allowed to write so.
Thus did this most generous of men prevent, by this reference to the Letters, my grandmamma's heart overflowing to her lips. He should directly, he said, proceed on his journey to London; and was in such haste to be gone, when he had said what he had to say, that it precipitated a little my grandmamma's spirits: But the joy she was filled with, on the occasion, was so great, that she only had a concern upon her, when he was gone, as if something was left by her undone or unsaid, which she thought should have been said and done to oblige him.
The Letters he left on the table, were copies of what he wrote from Lyons to the Marquis and Marchioness, the Bishop, the General, and Father Marescotti; as also to Lady Ciementina, and her brother, the good Jeronymo (Note: These letters are omitted in this collection). That to the Lady cannot be enough admired, for the tenderness, yet for the acquiescence with her will expressed in it. Surely they were born for each other, however it happens, that they are not likely to come together.
A Letter from Signor Jeronymo, in answer to his from Lyons, I will mention next. In this—Sir Charles is wished to use his supposed influence upon Lady Clementina (What a hard task upon him! (to dissuade her from the thoughts of going into a nunnery and to resolve upon marriage (Note: See Vol. 6, letter 2).
Next is a Letter of Lady Clementina to Sir Charles, complaining tenderly of persecution from her friends, who press her to marry; while she contends to be allowed to take the veil, and applies to Sir Charles for his interest in her behalf.
The next is Sir Charles's reply to Lady Clementina.
Then follows a Letter from Sir Charles to Signor Jeronymo. I have copied these three last, and inclose them in confidence (Note: See Vol. 6, letters 3, 4 and 5).
By these you will see, my dear, that the affair between this excellent man and woman is entirely given up by both; and also in his reply to Signor Jeronymo, that your Harriet is referred to as his next choice. And how can I ever enough value him, for the dignity he has given me, in putting it, as it should seem, in my power to lay an obligation upon him; in making for me my own scruples; and now, lastly, in the method he has taken in the application to my grandmamma, instead of to me; and leaving all to our determination. But thus should the men give dignity, even for their own sakes, to the women whom they wish to be theirs. Were there more Sir Charles Grandisons, would not even the Female world (much better, as I hope it is, than the Male) be amended?
My grandmamma, the moment Sir Charles was gone, sent to us, that she had some very agreeable news to surprise us with; and therefore desired the whole family of us, her Byron particularly to attend her at Breakfast, the next morning. We looked upon one another, at the message, and wondered. I was not well, and would have excused myself; but my aunt insisted upon my going. Little did I or any-body else think of your brother having visited my grandmamma in person. When she acquainted us that he had, my weakened spirits wanted support: I was obliged to withdraw with Lucy.
I thought I could not bear, when I recovered myself, that he should be so near, and not once call in, and enquire after the health of the creature for whom he professed so high an esteem, and even affection: But when, on my return to company, my grandmamma related what passed between them, and the Letters were read; then again were my failing spirits unable to support me. They all gazed upon me, as the Letters were reading, as well as while my grandmamma was giving the relation of what he said, and of the noble, the manly air with which he delivered himself.—With joy and silent congratulation they gazed upon me; while I felt such a variety of sensibilities in my heart, as I never felt before, sensibilities mixed with wonder; and I was sometimes ready to doubt whether I were not in a reverie; whether indeed I was in this world, or another; whether I was Harriet Byron—I know not how to describe what I felt in my now fluttering, now rejoicing, now dejected heart—
Dejected?—Yes, my dear Lady G. Dejection was a strong ingredient in my sensibilities. I know not why. Yet may there not be a fulness in joy, that will mingle dissatisfaction with it? If there may, shall I be excused for my solemnity, if I deduce from thence an argument, that the human soul is not to be fully satisfied by worldly enjoyments; and that therefore the completion of its happiness must be in another, a more perfect state? You Lady G. are a very good woman, tho' a lively one; and I will not excuse you, if on an occasion that bids me look forward to a very solemn event, you will not forgive my seriousness—That bids me look forward, I repeat; for Sir Charles Grandison cannot alter his mind: The world has not wherewith to tempt him to alter it, after he has made such advances, except I misbehave.
Well, my dear, and what was the result of our conference?—My grandmamma, my aunt, and Lucy, were of opinion, that I ought no more to revolve the notions of a divided or second-placed Love: That every point of female delicacy was answered: That he ought not only still to be allowed to love Lady Clementina, but that I and all her Sex should revere her: That my grandmamma, being the person applied to, should answer for me, for us all, in words of her own choosing.
I was silent. What think you, my dear, said my aunt? with her accustomed tenderness.
Think! said my uncle, with his usual facetiousness; Do you think, if Harriet had one objection, she would have been silent? I am for sending up for Sir Charles out of hand. Let him come the first day of next week, and let them be married before the end of it.
Not quite so hasty, neither, Mr. Selby, said my grandmamma, smiling: Let us send to Mr. Deane. His love for my child, and regard for deserve the most grateful returns.
What a deuce, and defer an answer to Sir Charles, who gives a generous reason, for the sake of the Lady abroad, and her family (and I hope he thinks a little of his own sake) for wishing a speedy answer?—
No, Mr. Selby: Not defer writing, neither. We know enough of Mr. Deane's mind already. But, for my part, I don't know what terms, what conditions, what additions to my child's fortune, to propose—
Additions! madam—Why, ay; there must be some, to be sure—And we are able, and as willing as able, let me tell you, to make them—
I beseech you, Sir, said I—Pray, madam—No more of this—Surely it is time enough to talk of these subjects.
So it is, niece. Mr. Deane is a lawyer. God help me! I never was brought up to any-thing but to live on the fat of the land, as the saying is. Mr. Deane and Sir Charles shall talk this matter over by themselves. Let us, as you say, send for Mr. Deane. But I will myself be the messenger of these joyful tidings.
My uncle then tuned out, in his gay manner, a line of an old song; and then said, I'll go to Mr. Deane: I will set out this very day—Pull down the wall, as one of our kings said; the door is too far about.—I'll bring Mr. Deane with me to-morrow, or it shall cost me a fall.
You know my uncle, my dear. In this manner did he express his joy.
My grandmother retired to her closet; and this that follows is what she wrote to Sir Charles. Everybody is pleased whenever she takes up the pen. No one made objection to a single word in it.
Reserve would be unpardonable on our side, tho' the woman's, to a man who is above reserve, and whose offers are the result of deliberation, and an affection, that, being founded in the merit of our dearest child, cannot be doubted. We all receive as an honour the offer you make us of an alliance which would do credit to families of the first rank. It will perhaps be one day owned to you, that it was the height of Mr. Selby's wishes and mine, that the man who had rescued the dear creature from insult and distress, might be at liberty to entitle himself to her grateful Love.
The noble manner in which you have explained yourself on a subject which has greatly embarrassed you, has abundantly satisfied Mrs. Selby, Lucy, and myself: We can have no scruples of delicacy. Nor am I afraid of suffering from yours by my frankness. But, as to our Harriet—You may perhaps meet with some (not affectation; she is above it) difficulty with her, if you expect her whole heart to be yours. She, Sir, experimentally knows how to allow for a double, a divided Love—Dr. Bartlett, perhaps should not have favoured her with the character of a Lady whom she prefers to herself; and Mrs. Selby and I have sometimes, as we read her melancholy story, thought, not unjustly. If she can be induced to love, to honour, the man of her choice, as much as she loves, honours, and admires Lady Clementina; the happy Man will have reason to be satisfied. You see, Sir, that we, who were able to give a preference to the same Lady against ourselves (Harriet Byron is ourself) can have no scruples on your giving it to the same incomparable woman. May that Lady be happy! If she were not to be so, and her unhappiness were to be owing to our happiness; that, dear Sir, would be all that could pain the hearts of any of us, on an occasion so very agreeable to
Your sincere Friend and Servant,
But, my dear Lady G. does your brother tell you and Lady L. nothing of his intentions? Why, if he does, do not you—But I can have no doubt. Is not the man Sir Charles Grandison? And yet, methinks, I want to know what the contents of his next Letters from Italy will be.
You will have no scruple, my dear Lady G. to show my whole Letter to Lady L. and, if you please, to my Emily—But only mention the contents, in your own way, to the gentlemen. I beg you will yourself show it to Mrs. Reeves: She will rejoice in her prognostications. Use that word to her: She will understand you. Your brother must now, less than ever, see what I write. I depend upon your discretion, my dear Lady G.
Volume VI - lettera 6
Volume VI - Letter 7
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Wedn. Sept. 23.
Excellent Mrs. Shirley! Incomparable woman! How I love her! If I were such an excellent ancient, I would no more wish to be young, than she has so often told us, she does. What my brother once said, and you once wrote to your Lucy, is true (in her case, at least); that the matronly and advanced time of life, in a woman, is far from being the least eligible part of it; especially, I may add, when health and a good conscience accompany it. What a spirit does she, at her time of Life, write with!—But her heart is in her subject—I hope I may say that, Harriet, without offending you.
Not a word did my brother speak of his intention, till he received that Letter; and then he invited Lady L. and me, and our two honest men, to afternoon tea with him—[O but I have not reckoned with you for your saucy rebukes in your last of the 7th; I owe you a spite for it; and, Harriet, depend on payment—What was I writing?—I have it—] And when tea was over, he, without a blush, without looking down, as a girl would do in this situation—[But why so, Harriet? Is a woman, on these occasions, to act a part as if she supposed herself to be the greatest gainer by matrimony; and therefore was ashamed of consenting to accept of an honourable offer? As if, in other words, she was to be the self-denying receiver rather than conferrer of an obligation?—Lord, how we rambling-headed creatures break in upon ourselves!] with a good grace he told us of his intention to marry; of his apparition to Mrs. Shirley; of his sudden vanishing; and all that—And then he produced Mrs. Shirley's Letter, but just received.
And do you think we were not overjoyed?—Indeed we were. We congratulated him: We congratulated each other: Lord L. looked as he did when Caroline gave him his happy day: Lord G. could not keep his seat: He was tipsy, poor man, with his joy: Aunt Nell prank'd herself, stroked her ribands of pink and yellow, and chuckled and mumped for joy, that her nephew at last would not go out of Old England for a wife. She was mightily pleased too with Mrs. Shirley's Letter. It was just such a one as she herself would have written upon the occasion.
I posted afterward to Mrs. Reeves, to show her, as you requested, your Letter: And when we had read it, there was, Dear Madam, and, Dear Sir; and now this, and now that; and Thank God—three times in a breath; and we were cousins, and cousins, and cousins: And, O blessed! And, O be joyful! And—Hail the day!—And, God grant it to be a short one!—And, How will Harriet answer to the question? Will not her frankness be tried? He despises affectation: So he thinks does she!—Good Sirs! and, O dears—How things are brought about!—O my Harriet! you never heard or saw such congratulations between three gossips, as were between our two cousin Reeves's and me: And not a little did the good woman pride herself in her prognostics; for she explained that matter to me.
Dr. Bartlett is at Grandison-hall, with our unhappy cousin. How will the good man rejoice!
Now you will ask, What became of Emily?—
By the way, do you know that Mrs. O’Hara is turned Methodist? True as you are alive. And she labours hard to convert her husband. Thank God she is any-thing that is serious! Those People have really great merit with me, in her conversion.—I am sorry that our own Clergy are not as zealously in earnest as they, They have really, my dear, if we may believe aunt Eleanor, given a face of religion to subterranean colliers, tinners, and the most profligate of men, who hardly ever before heard either of the word, or thing. But I am not turning Methodist, Harriet. No! you will not suspect me.
Now Emily, who is at present my visitor, had asked leave before my brother's invitation (and was gone, my Jenny attending her) to visit her mother, who is not well. My brother was engaged to sup abroad with some of the Danby's, I believe: I therefore made Lord and Lady L. cousin Reeves and cousin Reeves, and my aunt Grandison, sup with me.
Emily was at home before me—Ah the poor Emily!—I'll tell you how it was between us—
My lovely girl, my dear Emily, said I, I have good news to tell you, about Miss Byron.
O thank God—And is she well? Pray, madam, tell me, tell me; I long to hear good news of my dear Miss Byron.
Why, she will shortly be married, Emily!—
Yes, my love!—And to your guardian, child!—
To my guardian, madam!—Well, but I hope so—
I then gave her a few particulars.
The dear girl tried to be joyful, and burst into tears!
Why weeps my girl—O fie! Are you sorry that Miss Byron will have your guardian? I thought you loved Miss Byron.
So I do, madam, as my own self, and more than myself, if possible—But the surprise, madam—Indeed I am glad! What makes me such a fool?—Indeed I am glad!—What ails me, to cry, I wonder! It is what I wished, what I prayed for, night and day. Dear madam, don't tell any-body. I am ashamed of myself,
The sweet April-faced girl then smiled through her tears.
I was charmed with her innocent sensibility; and if you are not, I shall think less of you than ever I did yet.
Dear madam, said she, permit me to withdraw for a few minutes: I must have my cry out—And I shall then be all joy and gladness.
She tripped away; and in half an hour came down to me with quite another face.
Lady L. was then with me. I had told her of the girl's emotion. We are equally lovers of you, my dear, said I: you need not be afraid of Lady L.
And have you told, madam?—Well, but I am not a hypocrite. What a strange thing! I who have always been so much afraid of another Lady, for Miss Byron's sake, to be so oddly affected, as if I were sorry!—Indeed I rejoice.—But if you tell Miss Byron, she won't love me: She won't let me live with her and my guardian, when she is happy, and has made him so. And what shall I do then? for I have set my heart upon it.
Miss Byron, my dear, loves you so well, that she will not be able to deny you any-thing your heart is set upon, that is in her power to grant.
God bless Miss Byron as I love her, and she will be the happiest of women!—But what was the matter with me?—Yet I believe I know!—My poor mother had been crying sadly to me, for her past unhappy life. She kissed me, as she said, for my Father's sake: She had been the worst of wives to the best of husbands.
Again the good girl wept at her mother's remembered remorse—My guar—my guardian's goodness, my mother said, had awakened her to a sense of her wickedness. My poor mother did not spare herself: And I was all sorrow; for what could I say to her on such a subject?—And all the way that I came home in the coach, I did nothing but cry. I had but just dried my eyes, and tried to look cheerful, when you came in. And then, when you told me the good news, something struck me all at once, struck my very heart; I cannot account for it: I know not what to liken it to—And had I not burst into tears. I believe it would have been worse for me. But now I am myself; and if my poor mother could pacify her conscience, I should be a happy creature—because of Miss Byron's happiness. You look at each other, Ladies: But if you think I should not, bid me be gone from your presence for a false girl, and never see you more.
Now, Harriet, this emotion of Emily appears to me as a sort of phenomenon. Do you account for it as you will; but I am sure Emily is no hypocrite: She has no art: She believes what she says, that her sudden burst of tears was owing to her heart being affected by her mother's contrition: And I am also sure that she loves you above all the women in the world. Yet it is possible, that the subtle thief, ycleped Love, had got very near her heart; and just at the moment threw a dart into one angle of it, which was the something that struck her, all at once, as she phrased it, and made her find tears a relief. This I know, my dear, that we may be very differently affected by the same event, when judged of at a distance, and near. If you don't already, or if you soon will not, experience the truth of this observation in the great event before you, I am much mistaken.
But you see, Harriet, what joy this happy declaration of my brother, and the kind reception it has met with from Northamptonshire, has given us all. We will keep your secret, never fear, till all is over; and, when it is, you shall let my brother know, from the Letters we have had the favour of seeing, as much as we do. Till he does, excellent as he thinks you, he will not know one half of your excellencies, nor the merit which your Love and your Suspenses have made you with him.
But, with you, I long for the arrival of the next Letters from Italy. God grant that Lady Clementina hold her resolution, now that she sees it is almost impossible for her to avoid marrying. If she should relent, what would be the consequence, to my brother, to herself, to you! And how shall all we, his friends and yours, be affected! You think the Lady is obliged, in duty to her parents, to marry. Lady L. and I are determined to be wise, and not give our opinions till the events which are yet in the bosom of Fate, disclosing themselves, shall not leave us a possibility of being much mistaken. And yet, as to what the filial duty requires of her, we think she ought to marry. Mean time, I repeat, 'God grant that Lady Clementina now hold her mind!'
Lady L. sends up her name. Formality in her, surely. I will chide her. But here she comes.—I love, Harriet, to write to the moment; that's a knack I had from you and my brother: And be sure continue it, on every occasion: No pathetic without it!
Your servant, Lady L.
And your servant, Lady G.—Writing? To whom?
To our Harriet—
I will read your Letter—Shall I?
Take it; but read it out, that I may know what I have written.
Now give it me again. I'll write down what you say to it, Lady L.
Lady. L. I say you are a whimsical creature. But I don't like what you have last written.
Charlotte. Last written—'Tis down.—But why so, Lady L.?
Lady L. How can you thus tease our beloved Byron, with your conjectural evils?
Ch. Have I supposed an impossibility?—But 'tis down—Conjectural evils.
Lady L. If you are so whimsical, write—'My dear Miss Byron—'
Ch. My dear Miss Byron—'Tis down.
Lady L. (Looking over me) 'Do not let what this strange Charlotte has written, grieve you—'
Ch. Very well, Caroline!—grieve you.—
Lady L. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.'
Ch. Well observed.—Words of Scripture, I believe.—Well—evil thereof.—
Lady L. Never, surely, was there such a creature as you, Charlotte—
Ch. That's down, too.—
Lady L. I, that down? laughing—That should not have been down—Yet 'tis true.
Ch. Yet 'tis true—What's next?
Lady L. Pish—
Lady L. Well, now to Harriet—'Clementina cannot alter her resolution; her objection still subsisting. Her Love for my brother'—
Ch. Hold, Lady L. Too much, at one time—Her Love for my brother—
Lady L. 'On which her apprehensions that she shall not be able, if she be his wife'—
Ch. Not so much at once, I tell you: It is too much for my giddy head to remember—if she be his wife—
Lady L.—'to adhere to her own religion, are founded'—
Lady L. 'Is a security for her adherence to a resolution so glorious to herself.'
Ch. Well said, Lady L.—May it be so, say, and pray, I.—Any more, Lady L.?
Lady L. 'Therefore'—
Lady L. 'Regard not the perplexing Charlotte' —
Ch. I thank you, Caroline—perplexing Charlotte—
Lady L. 'Is the advice of your ever-affectionate Sister, Friend, and Servant.'—
Ch. So!—Friend and Servant—
Lady L. Give me the pen.—
Ch. Take another.—She did—and subscribed her name, 'C. L.'
With all my heart. Harriet. And here, after I have repeated my hearty wishes, that nothing of this that I have so sagely apprehended may happen (for I desire not to be dubbed a witch so much at my own, as well as at your, expense), I will also subscribe that of
Your no less affectionate Sister, Friend, and Servant,
My brother says, he has sent you a Letter, and your grandmamma another—Full of grateful sensibilities, both, I make no question.—But no Flight, or Goddess-making absurdity, I dare say. You will give us copies, if you are as obliging as you used to be.
Volume VI - lettera 7
Volume VI - Letter 8
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Monday, Sept. 25.
What have I done to my Charlotte? Is there not something cold and particular in your style, especially in that part of your Letter preceding the entrance of my good Lady L.? And in your Postscript—You will give us copies, if you are as obliging as you used to be.—Why should I, when likely to be more obliged to you than ever, be less obliging than before? I can't bear this from Lady G. Are you giving me a proof of the truth of your own observation? 'That we may be very differently affected by the same event, when judged of at a distance, and near.' —I could not support my spirits, if the sister of Sir Charles Grandison loved me the less for the distinction her brother pays me.
And what, my dear, if Lady Clementina should RELENT, as you phrase it? My friends might be now grieved—Well, and I might be affected too, more than if the visit to my grandmamma had not been made: I own it.—But the high veneration I truly profess to have for Lady Clementina, would be parade and pretension, if, whatever became of your Harriet, I did not resolve, in that case, to try, at least, to make myself easy, and give up to her prior and worthier claim: And I should consider her effort, tho' unsuccessful, as having entitled her to my highest esteem. To what we know to be right, we ought to submit; the more difficult, the more meritorious: And, in this case, your Harriet would conquer, or die. If she conquered, she would then, in that instance, be greater than even Clementina. O my dear, we know not, till we have the trial, what emulation will enable a warm and honest mind to do.
I will send you inclosed, copies of the two Letters transcribed by Lucy (Note: These letters do not appear. The contents may be gathered from what she says of them). I am very proud of them both; perhaps too proud; and it may be necessary that I should be pulled down; tho' I expected it not from my Charlotte. 'To be complimented in so noble and sincere a manner as you will see I am, with the power of laying an obligation on him,' (instead of owing it to his compassionate consideration for a creature so long labouring in suspense, and then despairing that her hopes could be answered) is enough at the same time to flatter her vanity, and gratify the most delicate sensibility.
You will see 'how gratefully he takes my grandmamma's hint, that I knew how by experience to account for a double, a divided Love, as she is pleased to call it—and the preference my aunt, and herself, and I, have given to the claim of Lady Clementina.' You, my dear, know our sincerity in this particular. There is some merit in owning a truth when it makes against us. To do justice in another's case against one's self, is, methinks, making at least a second merit for one's self. 'He asks my leave to attend me at Selby-house.'—I should rejoice to see him—But I could wish, methinks, that he had first received Letters from abroad. But how can I hint my wishes to him without implying either doubt or reserve?—Reserve in the delay of his visit implied by such hint; doubt, of his being at liberty to pursue his intentions: That would not become me to show; as it might make him think that I wanted protestations and assurances from him, in order to bind him to me; when, if the situation be such as obliges him to balance but in thought, and I could know it; I would die before I would accept of his hand. He has confirmed and established, as I may say, my pride (I had always some) by the distinction he has given me: Yet I should despise myself, if I found it gave me either arrogance, or affectation. 'He is so considerate as to dispense with my answering his Letters;' for he is pleased to say, 'That if I do not forbid him to come down, by my aunt Selby, or my grandmamma, he will presume upon my leave.'
My uncle set out for Peterborough, in order to bring Mr. Deane with him to Selby-house. Poor Mr. Deane had kept his chamber for a week before; yet had not let us know he was ill. He was forbid to go abroad for two days more; but was so overjoyed at what my uncle communicated to him, that he said, he was not sensible of ailing any-thing; and he would have come with my uncle next day, but neither he nor the doctor would permit it: But on Tuesday he came.—Such joy!—Dear good man!—Such congratulation!—How considerable, to their happiness, do they all make that of their too-too much obliged Harriet!
They have been in consultation often; but they have excluded me from some particular ones. I guess the subject; and beg of them, that I may not be too much obliged. What critical situations have I been in! When will they be at an end.
Mr. Deane has written to Sir Charles. I am not to know the contents of his Letter. The hearts of us women, when we are urged to give way to a clandestine and unequal address, or when inclined to favour such a one, are apt, and are pleaded with, to rise against the notions of bargain and sale. Smithfield bargains, you Londoners call them: But unjust is the odium, if preliminaries are necessary in all treaties of this nature. And surely previous stipulations are indispensably so among us changeable mortals, however promising the sunshine may be at our setting out on the journey of life; a journey too that will not be ended but with the life of one of the travellers.
If I ever were to be tempted to wish for great wealth, it would be for the sake of Sir Charles Grandison; that I might be a means of enlarging his power: Since I am convinced, that the necessities of every worthy person within the large circle of his acquaintance, would be relieved, according to his ability.
My dear Emily!—Ah Lady G.! Was it possible for you to think, that my pity for the amiable Innocent should not increase my love of her! I will give you leave indeed to despise me, if you ever find any-thing in my behaviour to Emily, let me be circumstanced as I will, that shall show an abatement of that tender affection which ever must warm my heart in her favour. Whenever I can promise any-thing for myself, then shall Emily be a partaker of my felicity, in the way her own heart shall direct. I hope, for her own sake, that the dear girl puts the matter right, when she attributes her sudden burst of tears to the weakness of her spirits occasioned by her mother's remorse: But let me say one thing; It would grieve me as much as it did Sir Charles, in the Count of Belvedere's case, to stand in the way of any-body's happiness. It is not, you see, your brother's fault, that he is not the husband of Lady Clementina: She wishes him to marry an Englishwoman.—Nor is even the hope of Lady Olivia frustrated by me. You know I always pitied her; and that before I knew, from Sir Charles's Letter to Signor Jeronymo, that she thought kindly of me.—Lady Anne S.; Do you think, my dear, that worthy Lady could have hopes, were it not for me?—And could my Emily have any, were I out of the world?—No, surely: The very wardship, which he executes with so much indulgent goodness to her, would exclude all such hopes, considerable enough as his estate is, to answer a larger fortune than even Emily's. Were hers not half so much as it is, it would perhaps be more likely than now, that his generous mind might be disposed in her favour, some years hence.
Let me, however, tell you, that true sisterly pity overwhelmed my heart, when I first read that part of your Letter which so pathetically describes her tender woe. Be the occasion her Duty, or her Love, or owing to a mixture of both, I am charmed with her beautiful simplicity: I wept over that part of your Letter for half an hour (for I was by myself); and more than once I looked round and round me, wishing for the dear creature to be near me, and wanting to clasp her to my bosom.
Love me still, and that as well as ever, my dear Lady G. or I shall want a great ingredient of happiness, in whatever situation I may be. I have written to thank my dear Lady L. for her goodness to me, in dictating to your pen; and I thank you, my dear, for being dictated to. I cannot be well. Send me but one line; ease my overburdened heart of one of its anxieties, by telling me that there has nothing passed of littleness in me, that has abated your love to
Your ever-grateful, ever-affectionate,
Volume VI - lettera 8
Volume VI - Letter 9
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Grosvenor-Square, Wedn. Sept. 27.
Fly, Script, of one line; on the wings of the wind, fly, to acquaint my Harriet that I love her above all women—and all men too; my brother excepted. Tell her, that I now love her with an increased love; because I love her for his sake, as well as her own.
Forgive, my dear, all the carelessness, as you always did the flippancies, of my pen. The happy prospect that all our wishes would be succeeded to us, had given a levity, a wantonness, to it. Wicked pen!—But I have burnt the whole parcel from which I took it!—Yet I should correct myself; for I don't know whether I did not intend to tease a little: I don't know whether my compassion for Emily did not make me more silly. If that were so (for really I suffered my pen to take its course at the time; therefore burnt it) I know you will the more readily forgive me.
Littleness, Harriet! You are all that is great and good in woman. The littleness of others adds to your greatness. Have not my foibles always proved this?—No, my dear! you are as great, as—Clementina herself: And I love you better, if possible, than I love myself.
A few lines more on other subjects; for I can't write a short Letter to my Harriet.—
The Countess of D. has made my brother a visit. I happened to be at his house. They were alone together near an hour. At going away, he attending her to her chair, she took my hand; All, all my hopes are over, said she; but I will love Miss Byron, for all that. Nor shall you, Sir Charles, in the day of your power, deny me my correspondent: Nor must you, madam, and Lady L. a friendship with Sir Charles Grandison's two sisters.
Lady W. and my sister and I correspond. I want you to know her, that you may love her as well as we do. Love-matches, my dear, are foolish things. I know not how you will find it some time hence: No general rule, however, without exceptions, you know. Violent Love on one side, is enough in conscience, if the other be not a fool, or ungrateful: The Lover and Lovée make generally the happiest couple. Mild, sedate convenience, is better than a stark staring-mad passion. The wall-climbers, the hedge and ditch-leapers, the river-forders, the window-droppers, always find reason to think so. Who ever hears of darts, flames, Cupids, Venus's, Adonis's, and suchlike nonsense, in matrimony?—Passion is transitory; but discretion, which never boils over, gives durable happiness. See Lord and Lady W. Lord G. and his good woman, for instances.
O my mad head! And why, think you, did I mention my corresponding with Lady W.?—Only to tell you, and I had like to have forgot it, that she felicitates me in her last, on the likelihood of a happy acquisition to our family, from what my brother communicated of his intention to make his addresses to Somebody—I warrant you guess to whom.
Lady Anne S.—Poor Lady Anne S.!—I dare not tell my brother how much she loves him: I am sure it would make him uneasy.
Beauchamp desires his compliments to you. He is in great affliction. Poor Sir Harry is thought irrecoverable. Different physicians have gone their rounds with him: But the new ones only ask what the old ones did, that they may guess at something else to make trial of. When a patient has money, it is hard, I believe, for a physician to be honest, and to say, till the last extremity, That the Parson and Sexton may take him.
Adieu, my love!—Adieu, all my grandmammas, aunts, cousins, and kin's kin of Northamptonshire—Adieu!
Volume VI - lettera 9
Volume VI - Letter 10
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Tuesday, Oct. 3.
A thousand thanks to you, my dear Lady G. for the favour of your last: You have re-assured me in it. I think I could not have been happy even in the affection of Sir Charles Grandison, were I to have found an abatement in the Love of his two sisters. Who, that knows you both, and that had been favoured with your friendship, could have been satisfied with the least diminution of it?
I have a Letter from the Countess of D. (Note: This letter does not appear). She is a most generous woman. 'She even congratulates me, on your brother's account, from the conversation that passed between him and her. She gives me the particulars of that conversation. Exceedingly flattering are they to my vanity.' I must, my dear, be happy, if you continue to love me; and if I can know that Lady Clementina is not unhappy. This latter is a piece of Intelligence, necessary, I was going to say, for my tranquility: For can your brother be happy, if that Lady be otherwise, whose grievous malady could hold in suspense his generous heart, when he had no prospects at the time, of ever calling her his?
I pity from my heart Lady Anne S. What a dreadful thing is hopeless Love; the object so worthy, that every mouth is full of his praises! How many women will your brother's preference of one, be she who she will, disappoint in their first Loves! Yet out of a hundred women, how few are there, who, for one reason, or other, have the man of their choice!
I remember, you once said, It was well that Love is not a passion absolutely invincible: But, however, I do not, my dear, agree with you in your notions of all Love-matches. Love merely personal, that sort of Love which commences between the year of fifteen and twenty; and when the extraordinary merit of the object is not the foundation of it; may, I believe, and perhaps generally ought to, be subdued. But Love that is founded on a merit that every-body acknowledges—I don't know what to say to the vincibility of such a Love: For myself, I think it impossible that I ever could have been the wife of any man on earth, and given him my affection in so entire a manner, as should, on reflexion, have acquitted my own heart—Tho' I hope I should not have been wanting in my general duties—And why impossible? Because I must have been conscious, that there was another man whom I would have preferred to him. Let me add, that when prospects were darkest with regard to my wishes, I promised my grandmamma and aunt, to make myself easy, at least to endeavour to do so, if they never would propose to me the Earl of D. or any other man. They did promise me.
Lady D. in her Letter to me, 'is so good as to claim the continuance of my correspondence.' Most ungrateful, and equally self-denying, must I be, if I were to decline my part of it.
I have a Letter from Sir Rowland Meredith (Note: This letter appears not). You, who have seen his former Letters to me, need not be shown this. The same honest heart appears in them all; the same kind professions of paternal love. You love Sir Rowland; and will be pleased to hear that his worthy nephew is likely to recover his health: I cannot, however, be joyful that they are resolved to make me soon one more visit. But you will see that Mr. Fowler thinks, if he could be allowed to visit me once more, he should, tho' hoping nothing from the visit, be easier for the rest of his life. A strange way of thinking! supposing Love to be his distemper: Is it not?
I have a Letter from Mr. Fenwick. He is arrived at his seat near Daventry. He has made a very short excursion abroad. He tells me in it, that he designs me a visit on a particular subject. If it be, as I suspect, to engage my interest with my Lucy, he shall not have her: He is not worthy of her.
The friendship and favour of Lady W. is one of the great felicities which seem to offer to bless my future lot.
Mr. Greville is the most persevering, as well as most audacious of men. As other men endeavour to gain a woman's affections by politeness; he makes pride, ill-nature, and impetuosity, the proofs of his Love; and thinks himself ill used, especially since his large acquisition of fortune, that they are not accepted as such. He has obliged Mr. Deane to hear his pleas; and presumed to hope for his favour. Mr. Deane frankly told him, that his interest lay quite another way. He then insolently threatened with destruction, the man, be he who he will, that shall stand in his way. He doubts not, he says, but Sir Charles Grandison is the man designed: But if so cool a Lover is to be encouraged against so fervent a one as himself, he is mistaken in all his notions of women's conduct and judgments in Love-matters. A discreet Lover, he says, is an unnatural character: Women, the odious wretch says, love to be devoured (Is he not an odious wretch?) and if Miss Byron can content herself with another woman's leavings, for that, he says, he is well informed is the case, he knows what he shall think of her spirit. And then he threw out, as usual, reflections on our Sex, which had malice in them.
This man's threats disturb me. God grant that your brother may not meet with any more embarrassments from insolent men, on my account!
If these men, this Greville in particular, would let me be at peace, I should be better, I believe, in my health: But Lady Frampton is his advocate, by Letter. He watches my footsteps, and, in every visit I make, throws himself in the way: And on Sundays he is always ready with his officious hand, as I alight to enter the church, and to lead me back to my uncle's coach. My uncle cannot affront him, because he will not be affronted by him. He rallies off, with an intrepidity that never was exceeded, all that my aunt says to him. I repulse him with anger everywhere but in a place so public, and so sacred. He disturbs my devotion, with his staring eyes, always fixed on our pew; which draw every one's after them. He has the assurance, when he intrudes himself into my company, to laugh off my anger; telling me, that it is what he has long wished for; and that now he is so much used to it, that he can live on my frowns, and cannot support life without them. He plainly tells me, that Mr. Fenwick's arrival from abroad, and another certain person's also, are the occasion of his resumed sedulity.
Every-body about us, in short, is interested for or against him. He makes me appear coy and ridiculous. He—But no more of this bold man. Would to Heaven that some one of those who like such, would relieve me from him!
Visitors, and the post, oblige me, sooner than I otherwise should, to conclude myself, my dear Lady G.
Volume VI - lettera 10
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