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Volume VI - Letter 11
MR. DEANE TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Selby-house, Tuesday, Oct. 3.
An alliance more acceptable, were it with a prince, could not be proposed, than that which Sir Charles Grandison, in a manner so worthy of himself, has proposed with a family who have thought themselves under obligation to him, ever since he delivered the darling of it from the lawless attempts of a savage Libertine. I know to whom I write; and will own, that it has been my wish, in a most particular manner.
As to the surviving part of the family, exclusive of Miss Byron (for I will mention her parents by-and-by) it is, in all its branches, worthy. Indeed, Sir, your wish of a relation to them, is not a discredit to your high character. As to the young Lady—I say nothing of her—Yet how shall I forbear—O Sir, believe me! she will dignify your choice. Her duty and her inclination through every relation of life, were never divided.
Excuse me, Sir—No parent was ever more fond of his child than I have been, from her infancy, of this my daughter by adoption. Hence, Sir, being consulted on this occasion, as my affection I will say for the whole family deserves, I take upon me to acquaint you, before any further steps are taken, what our dear child's fortune will be: For it has been always my notion, that a young gentleman, in such a case, should, the moment he offers himself, if his own proposals are acceptable, be spared the indelicacy of asking questions as to fortune. We know, Sir, yours is great: But as your spirit is princely, you ought to have something worthy of your own fortune with a wife. But here, alas! we must fail, I doubt; at least, in hand.
Mr. Byron was one of the best of men; his Lady a most excellent woman: There never was a happier pair. Both had reason to boast of their ancestry, His estate was upwards of Four thousand pounds a year; but it was entailed, and, in failure of male heirs, was to descend to a second branch of the family which had made itself the more unworthy of it, by settling in a foreign country, renouncing, as I may say, its own Mr. Byron died a young man, and left his Lady ensient; but grief for losing him, occasioned first her miscarriage, and then her death; and the estate followed the name. Hence, be pleased to know, that Miss Byron's fortune, in her own right is no more than between Thirteen and Fourteen thousand pounds. It is chiefly in the funds. It has been called 15,000l. but it is not much more than thirteen. Her grandmother's jointure is between 4 and 500l. a year. We none of us wish to see my god-daughter in possession of it: She herself least of all. Mrs. Shirley is called, by every one that knows her, or speaks of her, The ornament of old age. Her husband, an excellent man, desired her to live always in the mansion-house, and in the hospitable way he had ever kept up, if what he left her would support her in it. She has been longer spared to the prayers of her friends, and to those of the poor, than was apprehended; for she is but infirm in health. She therefore can do but little towards the increase of her child's fortune. But Shirley-manor is a fine old seat, Sir!—And there is timber upon the estate, which wants but ten years growth, and will be felled to good account. Mr. Selby is well in the world. He proposes, as a token of his love, to add 3000l, in hand to his niece's fortune; and by his will, something very considerable, farther expectant on his Lady's death; who being Miss Byron's aunt, by the father's side, intends by her will to do very handsomely for her.—By the way, my dear Sir, be assured, that what I write is absolutely unknown to Miss Byron.
There is a man who loves her as he loves himself. This man has laid by a sum of money every year for the advancing her in marriage, beginning with the fifth year of her life, when it was seen what a hopeful child she was: This has been putout at accumulated interest; and it amounts, in sixteen years, or thereabouts, to very near 8000l, This man, Sir will make up the eight thousand, ten, to be paid on the day of marriage: And I hope, without promising for what this man will do further at his death, that you will accept of this Five or Six-and-twenty thousand Pounds, as the cheerfullest given and best-bestowed money that ever was laid out.
Let not these particulars pain you, Sir: They should not; The subject is a necessary one. You, who ought to give way to the increase of that power which you so nobly use, must not be pained at this mention, once for all. Princes, Sir, are not above asking money of their people as free-gifts, on the marriage of their children. He that would be greater than a prince may, before he is aware, be less than a gentleman. Of this ten thousand pounds, Eight is Miss Byron's due, as she is likely to be so happy with all our consents; else it would not: For that was the man's reserved condition; and the sum, or the designation of it, was till this day only known to himself.
As to settlements in return, I would have acted the lawyer, but the honest lawyer, with you, Sir, and made demands of you; but Mr. and Mrs. Selby, and Mrs. Shirley, unanimously declare, that you shall not be prescribed to in this case. Were you not Sir Charles Grandison? was the question. I was against leaving it to you, for that very reason. It will be, said I, to provoke such a man as Sir Charles to do too much. Most other men ought to be spurred; but this must be held in. But, however, I acquiesced; and the more easily, because I expect that the deeds shall pass through my hands; and I will take care that you shall not, in order to give a proof of Love where it is not wanted, exert an inadequate generosity.
These matters I thought it was absolutely necessary to apprize you of: You will have the goodness to excuse any imperfections in my manner of writing. There are none in my heart, when I assure you, that no man breathing can more respect you, than, Sir.
Your most faithful and obedient Servant,
LA STORIA DI
Volume VI - lettera 11
Volume VI - Letter 12
SIR CHARLESE GRANDISON TO THOMAS DEANE, ESQ.
Thursday, Oct. 5.
You know not, my dear Mr. Deane upon what an unthankful man you would bestow your favours. I pretend not to be above complying with the laudable customs of the world. Princes are examples to themselves. I have always, in things indifferent, been willing to take the world as I find it; and conform to it.
To say Miss Byron is a treasure in herself, is what every man would say, who has the honour to know her: Yet I would not, in a vain ostentation, as the interest of a man and his wife is one, make a compliment to my affection by resigning or giving from her her natural right; especially as there is no one of her family that wants to be benefited by such gifts or resignations. But then I will not allow, that any of her friends shall part with what is theirs, to supply—What? A supposed deficiency in her fortune. And by whom, as implied by you, supposed a deficiency?—By me; and it is left to me to confirm the imputation by my acceptance of the addition so generously, as to the intention, offered. Had I encumbrances on my estate, which, undischarged, would involve in difficulties the woman I love; I know not what, for her sake, I might be tempted to do. But avarice only can induce a man who wants it not to accept of the bounty of a Lady's friends, in their life-time especially—When those friends are not either father or mother; one of them not a relation by blood, tho' he is by a nearer tie, that of Love: And it is not the fortune which the Lady possesses, in her own right, an ample one?
I am as rich as I wish to be, my dear Mr. Deane. Were my income less, I would live within it; were it more, it would increase my duties. Permit me, my good Sir to ask, Has the MAN, as you call him (and a MAN indeed he appears to me to be) who intends to make so noble a present to a stranger, no relations, no friends, who would have reason to think themselves unkindly treated, if he gave from them such a large portion of his fortune?
I would not be thought romantic; neither aim I at ostentation. I would be as glad to follow, as to set, a good example. Can I have a nobler, if Miss Byron honours me with her hand, than she, in that case, will give in preferring me to the Earl of D. a worthy man, with a much more splendid fortune than mine? Believe me, my dear Mr. Deane, it would, on an event so happy, be a restraint to my own joy before friends so kindly contributing to the increase of her fortune, lest they should imagine that their generosity on the occasion, was one of the motives of my gratitude to her for her goodness to me,
You tell me, that Miss Byron knows nothing of your proposals: I beseech you, let her not know anything of them: Abase not so much, in her eye, the man who presumes on her favour for the happiness of the rest of his life, by supposing (Your supposition, Sir, may have weight with her) he could value her the more for such an addition to her fortune. No, Sir: Let Miss Byron (satisfied with the consciousness of a worth which all the world acknowledges) in one of the most solemn events of her life look round among her congratulating friends with that modest confidence which the sense of laying a high obligation on a favoured object gives to diffident merit; and which the receiving of favours from all her friends, as if to supply a supposed defective worth, must either abate; or, if it do not, make her think less of the interested man, who could submit to owe such obligations.
If these friendly expostulations conclude against the offer of your generous friend, they equally do so against that of Mr. Selby. Were that Gentleman and his Lady the parents of Miss Byron, the case would be different: But Miss Byron's fortune is an ascertained one; and Mr. Selby has relations who stand in an equal degree of consanguinity to him, and who are all entitled, by their worthiness, to his favour. My best respects and thanks are however due; and I beg you will make my acknowledgments accordingly, as well to your worthy friend, as to Mr. Selby.
I take the liberty to send you down the rent-roll of my English estate. Determine for me as you please, my dearest Mr. Deane. Only take this caution—Affront me not a second time; but let the settlements be such, as may be fully answerable to my fortune; altho', in the common methods of calculation, it may exceed that of the dear Lady. That you may be the better judge of this, you will find a brief particular of my Irish Estate, subjoined to the other.
I was intending, when I received yours, to do myself the honour of a visit to Selby-house. I am impatient to throw myself at the feet of my dear Miss Byron, and to commend myself to the favour of Mr. and Mrs. Selby, and every one of a family I am prepared by their characters, as well as by their relation to Miss Byron, to revere and love. But as you seem to choose that the requisite preliminaries should be first adjusted by pen and ink, I submit, tho' with reluctance, to that course; but with the less, as I may, in the interim, receive Letters from abroad, which, tho' they can now make no alteration with regard to the treaty so happily begun, may give me an opportunity of laying the whole state of my affairs before Miss Byron; by which means she will be enabled to form a judgment of them, and of the heart of, dear Sir,
Her and your most affectionate,
Volume VI - lettera 12
Volume VI - Letter 13
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
[With the two preceding Letters.]
Selby-house, Sat. Oct. 7.
Well did you observe, my dear that we may be very differently affected by the same event, when judged of at a distance, and near. May I, in the present situation, presume to say near? Mr. Deane has entered into the particulars of my fortune with Sir Charles. The Letter was not shown me before it went; and I was not permitted to see the copy of it till your brother's answer came; and then they showed me both.
O my dear Mr. Deane! my ever-kind uncle and aunt Selby! Was not your Harriet Byron too much obliged to you before?—As to your brother, What, my love, shall I do with my pride? I did not know I had so much of that bad quality. My poverty, my dear, has added to my pride. Were my fortune superior to that of your brother, I am sure I should not be so proud as I now, on this occasion, find I am. How generously does he decline accepting the goodness that was offered to give me more consideration with him (as kindly intended by them)! What can I say to him, but that his heart, still prouder than my own, and more generous than that of any other person breathing, will not permit me to owe uncommon obligations to any but himself?
He desires that I may not know any-thing of this transaction: But they thought the communication would give me pleasure. However, they wish me not to take notice to him, when he visits Selby-house, that they have communicated it to me. If I did, I should think myself obliged to manifest a gratitude that would embarrass me, in my present situation, and seem to fetter the freedom of my will. Millions of obligations should not bribe me to give up even a corner of my heart, to a man to whom I could not give the whole. Your brother, my dear, is in possession of the whole.
You know that I hate affectation: But must I not have great abatements in my prospects of happiness, because of Lady Clementina? And must they not be still greater, should she be unhappy, should she repent of the resolution she so nobly took, for his saying, that whatever be the contents of his next Letters from Italy, they can make no alteration with regard to the treaty begun with us?—Dear, dear Clementina! most excellent of women! Can I bear to stand in the way of your happiness?—I cannot—My life, any more than yours, may not be a long one; and I will not sully the whiteness of it (Pardon my vanity; I presume to call it so, on retrospecting it, regarding my intentions only) by giving way to an act of injustice, tho' it were to obtain for me the whole heart of the man I love.
Yet think you, my dear, that I am not mortified? 'How can I look round upon my congratulating friends, in one of the most solemn events of my life, with that modest confidence which the sense of laying an obligation on a favoured object' (You know in whose generous words I express myself) 'gives to diffident merit?' O my Charlotte! I am afraid of your brother! How shall I look up to him, when I next see him?—But I will give way to this new guest, my pride. What other way have I?—Will you forgive me, if I try to look upon your brother's generosity to me and my friends, in declining so greatly their offers, as a bribe to make me sit down satisfied with half, nay, not half, a heart?—And now will you not say, that I am proud indeed? But his is the most delicate of human minds; And shall not the woman pretend to some delicacy who has looked up to him?
I thought of writing but a few lines in the cover of the two Letters. I hope I should not incur displeasure from any-body here, were they to know I send them to you for your perusal. But let only Lord G. your other Self, and Lord and Lady L. read them, and return them by the next post. I know you four will pity the poor and proud girl, who is so inexpressibly obliged almost to every one she knows; but who, believe her, proud as she is, never will be ashamed to own her obligations to you, and to Lady L.
Volume VI - lettera 13
Volume VI - Letter 14
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Grosvenor-Square, Tuesday, Oct. 10.
I return your two Letters: Very good ones, both. I like them. Lord L. and Lord G. thank you for allowing them to peruse them. We will know nothing of the matter. My brother will soon be with you, I believe. I wish Dr. Bartlett were in town: One should then know something of the motions of my brother—Not that he is reserved, neither. But he is so much engaged, that I go four times to St. James's-Square, and perhaps do not see him once. My Lord had the assurance to say, but yesterday, that I was there more than at home. He is very impertinent: I believe he has taken up my sauciness. I laid it down, and thought to resume it occasionally; but when I came to look for it, behold! it was gone!—But I hope, if he has it not, it is only mislaid. I intend, if it come not soon to hand, to set the parish-crier to proclaim the loss, with a reward for the finder. It might be the ruin of some indiscreet woman, should such a one meet with it, and try to use it. Aunt Eleanor [There I remember myself: No more aunt Nell!] is as joyful, to think her nephew will soon be married, and to an English woman, as if she were going to be married herself. Were there to be a wedding in the family, or among her acquaintance, once a year! what with preparation, what with solemnisation, good old soul! she would live for ever. Chide again, Harriet; I value it not. Yet in your last chiding you were excessively grave: But I forgive you. Be good, and write me every-thing how and about it; and write to the moment: You cannot be too minute.
I want you to see Lady Olivia's presents: They are princely. I want to see a Letter she wrote to my brother: He mentioned it as something extraordinary. When you are his, you must show me all he writes, that you are permitted to have in your power long enough to transcribe. He and she correspond. Do you like that, Harriet?—Lady L. writes: Emily writes. So I have only to say, I am
Your humble Servant, and so-forth,
Volume VI - lettera 14
Volume VI - Letter 15
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Selby-house, Thursday, Oct. 12.
My dear Lady G.
I expect your brother every hour. I hope he comes in pursuance of Letters from Italy!—May it be so! and such as will not abate his welcome!
We heard by accident of his approach, by a farmer, tenant to my uncle; who saw a fine gentleman, very handsomely attended, alight, as he left Stratford, at the very inn where we baited on our return from London. As a dinner was preparing for him, perhaps, my dear, he will dine in the very room he dined in at that time. The farmer had the curiosity to ask who he was; and was answered by the most courteous gentleman's servants he ever spoke to, that they had the honour to serve Sir Charles Grandison. And the farmer having said he was of Northampton; one of them asked him, How far Selby-house was from that town? The farmer was obliged to hurry home on his own affairs; and meeting my uncle with Mr. Deane, and my cousin James Selby, taking an airing on horseback, told him the visitor he was likely to have. My uncle instantly dispatched his servant to us with the tidings, and that he was gone to meet him, in hopes of conducting him hither.
This news gave me so much emotion, being not well before, that my aunt advised me to retire to my closet, and endeavour to quiet my Spirits.
Here then I am, my dear Lady G. and the writing-implements being always at hand in this place, I took up my pen. It is not possible for me to write at this time, but to you, and on this subject. It is good for a busy mind to have something to be employed in; and I think, now I am amusing myself on paper, my heart is a little more governable than it was.
I am glad we heard of his coming before we saw him. But surely Sir Charles Grandison should not have attempted to surprise us: Should he, my dear? Does it not look like the pride of a man assured of a joyful welcome? I have read of princes, who, acquainted with their Ladies by picture only, and having been married by proxy, have set out to their frontiers incognito, and in disguise have affected to surprise the poor apprehensive bride.—But here, not only circumstances differ, since there has been no betrothment; but were he of princely rank, I should have expected a more delicate treatment from him.—
How will the consciousness of inferiority and obligation set a proud and punctilious mind upon hunting for occasions to justify its caprices!—A servant of Sir Charles is just arrived with a billet directed for my uncle Selby. My aunt opened it. It is dated from Stratford. The contents are, after compliments of enquiry of our healths, to acquaint my uncle, that he shall put up at the George at Northampton, this night; and hopes to be allowed to pay his compliments to us to-morrow morning, at breakfast: So he did not intend to give himself the consequence, of which my capricious heart was so apprehensive. Yet then, as if resolved to find fault, Is not this a little too parading for his natural freedom? thought I: Or does he think we should not be able to outlive our joyful surprise, if he gave us not notice of his arrival in these parts before he saw us?—O Clementina!—Goodness! Angel! What a mere mortal, what a woman, dost thou make the poor Harriet Byron appear in her own eyes! How apprehensive of coming after thee! The sense I have of my own littleness, will make me little, indeed!
Well, but I presume, that if my uncle and Mr. Deane meet him, they will prevail on him to come hither this night: Yet I suppose he must be allowed to go to the proposed inn afterwards.—But here, he is come!—Come, indeed!—My uncle in the chariot with him! My cousin and Mr. Deane, Sally tells me, just alighted. Sally adores Sir Charles Grandison—Begone, Sally. Thy emotions, foolish wench, add to those of thy mistress!—
That I might avoid the appearance of affectation, I was going down to welcome him when I met my uncle on the stairs. Niece Byron, said he, you have not done justice to Sir Charles Grandison. I thought your Love-sick heart (What words were these, my dear! and at that moment too!) must have been partial to him. He prevailed on me to go into his chariot. You may think yourself very happy. For fifteen miles together did he talk of nobody but you. Let me go down with you: Let me present you to him.
I had before besought my spirits to befriend me, but for one half-hour. Surely there is nothing so unwelcome as an unseasonable jest. Present me to him! Love-sick heart! O my uncle! thought I. I was unable to proceed. I hastened back to my closet, as much disconcerted as a child could be, who, having taken pains to get its lesson by heart, dashed by a chiding countenance, forgot every syllable of it when it came to say it. You know, my dear, that I had not of some time been well. My spirits were weak, and joy was almost as painful to me as grief could have been.
My aunt came up—My love, why don't you come down?—What now! Why in tears?—You will appear, to the finest man I ever saw in my life, very particular!—Mr. Deane is in love with him: Your cousin James—
Dear madam, I am already, when I make comparisons between him and myself, humbled enough with his excellencies. I did intend to avoid particularity; but my uncle has quite disconcerted me—Yet he always means well: I ought not to complain. I attend you, madam.
Can you, Lady G. forgive my pride, my petulance?
My aunt went down before me. Sir Charles hastened to me, the moment I appeared, with an air of respectful love.
He took my hand, and bowing upon it, I rejoice to see my dear Miss Byron; and to see her so well. How many sufferers must there be, when you suffer!
I bid him welcome to England: I hope he heard me: I could not help speaking low: He must observe my discomposure. He led me to a seat, and sat down by me, still holding my hand. I withdrew it not presently, left he should think me precise: But, as there were so many persons present, I thought it was free in Sir Grandison. Yet perhaps he could not well quit it, as I did not withdraw it; so that the fault might be rather in my passiveness, than in his forwardness.
However, I asked my aunt afterwards, If his looks were not those of a man assured of success; as indeed he might be from my grandmother's Letter, and my silence to his. She said, there was a manly freedom in his address to me; but that it had such a mixture of tenderness in it, that never, in her eyes, was freedom so becoming. While he was restrained by his situation, added she, no wonder that he treated you with respect only, as a Friend; but now he finds himself at liberty to address you, his behaviour ought, as a Lover, to have just been what it was.
Sir Charles led me into talk, by mentioning you and Lady L. your two Lords, and my Emily.
My uncle and aunt withdrew, and had some little canvassings, it seems, (All their canvassings are those of assured Lovers) about the propriety of my uncle's invitation to Sir Charles to take up his residence, while he was in these parts, at Selby-house. My uncle, at coming in, had directed Sir Charles's servants to put up their horses: But they, not having their master's orders to do so, held themselves in readiness to attend him; as they knew that Sir Charles had given directions to his gentleman, Richard Saunders, who brought the billet to my uncle, to go back to Northhampton, and provide apartments for him at the George inn there.
My aunt, who you know is a perfect judge of points of decorum, pleaded to my uncle, that it was too well known among our select friends, by Mr. Greville's means, that Sir Charles had never before made his addresses to me; and that therefore, tho' he was to be treated as a man whose alliance is considered as an honour to us; yet that some measures were to be kept, as to the look of the thing; and that the world might not conclude that I was to be won at his very first appearance; and the rather, as Mr. Greville's violence, as well as virulence, was so well known.
My uncle was petulant. I, said he, am always in the wrong: You women, never. He ran into all those peculiarities of words, for which you have so often raillied him—His adsheart, his female scrupulosities, his What a pize, his hatred of shilly-shally's and fiddle-faddles, and the rest of our female nonsenses, as he calls them. He hoped to salute his niece, as Lady Grandison, in a fortnight: What a duce was the matter it could not be so, both sides now of a mind?—He warned my aunt, and bid her warn me, against affectation, now the crisis was at hand. Sir Charles, he said, would think meanly of us, if we were silly: And then came in another of his odd words: Sir Charles, he said, had been so much already bamboozled, that he would not have patience with us: and therefore, and for all these reasons, as he called them, he desired that Sir Charles might not be suffered to go out of the house, and to an inn; and this as well for the propriety of the thing, as for the credit of his own invitation to him.
My aunt replied, that Sir Charles himself would expect delicacy from us. It was evident, that he expected not (no doubt for the sake of the world's eye) to reside in the house with me on his first visit, by his having ordered his servant who brought the billet, to take apartments for him at Northampton, even not designing to visit us over-night, had he not been met by Mr. Deane and himself, and persuaded to come. In short, my dear, said my aunt, I am as much concerned about Sir Charles's own opinion of our conduct, as for that of the world: Yet you know, that every genteel family around us expected examples from us, and Harriet. If Sir Charles is not with us, the oftener he visits us, the more respectful it will be construed. I hope he will live with us all day, and every day: But indeed it must be as a visitor, not as an inmate.
Why then bring me off some-how, that I may not seem the blunderer you are always making me by your documents—Will you do that?
When my uncle and aunt came in, they found Sir Charles, and Dr. Deane, and me, talking. Our subject was, the happiness of Lord and Lady W. and the whole Mansfield family, with whom Mr. Deane, who began the discourse, is well acquainted. Sir Charles arose, at their entrance. The night draws on, said he—I will do myself the honour of attending you, madam, and this happy family, at tea in the morning.—My good Mr. Selby, I had a design upon you, and Mr. Deane, and upon you, young gentleman (to my cousin James) as I told you on the road; but it is now too late. Adieu, till to-morrow.—He bowed to each, to me profoundly, kissing my hand, and went to his chariot.
My uncle whispered my aunt, as we all attended him to that door of the hall which leads into the court-yard, to invite him to stay. Hang punctilio! he said.
My aunt wanted to speak to Sir Charles; yet, she owned, she knew not what to say: Such a conscious awkwardness had indeed possession of us both, as made us uneasy: We thought all was not right; yet knew not that we were wrong. But when Sir Charles's chariot drove away with him, and we took our seats, and supper was talked of, we all of us showed dissatisfaction; and my uncle was quite out of humour. He would give a thousand pounds, he said, with all his heart and soul, to find in the morning, Sir Charles, instead of coming hither to breakfast, had set out on his return to London.
For my part, Lady G. I could not bear these recriminations. I begged to be excused sitting down to supper. I was not well; and this odd situation added uneasiness to my indisposition: A dissatisfaction, that I find will mingle with our highest enjoyments: Nor were the beloved company I left, happier. They canvassed the matter, with so much good-natured earnestness, that the supper was taken away, as it was brought, at a late hour.
What, my dear Lady G. in your opinion, should we have done? Were we right, or were we wrong? Over-delicacy, as I have heard observed, is under-delicacy. You, my dear, your Lord, our Emily, and Dr. Bartlett, all standing in so well-known a degree of relation to Sir Charles Grandison, were our most welcome guests: And was not the brother to be received with equal warmth of respect?—O no! Custom, it seems, tyrant custom, and the apprehended opinion of the world obliged us (especially as so much bustle had been made about me, by men so bold, so impetuous) to show him—Show him what?—In effect, that we had expectations upon him, which we could not have upon the brother and sister; and therefore, because we hoped he would be more near, we were to keep him at the greater distance!—What an indirect acknowledgment was this in his favour, were there room for him to doubt! Which, however, there could not be. What would I give, said my aunt to me, this moment, to know his thoughts of the matter!
Lucy and Nancy will be here at dinner: so will my grandmamma. She has, with her usual enquiries after my health, congratulated me by this line, sealed up. 'I long, my best love, to embrace you, on the joyful occasion. I need say no more, than that I think myself at this instant, one of the happiest of women. I shall dine with you to-day. Adieu, till then, joy of my heart, my own Harriet!'
Lucy, in a Billet just now brought, written for herself and Nancy, on the intelligence sent her of Sir Charles's arrival, expresses herself thus: 'Our joy is extreme! Blessings on the man! Blessings attend our Harriet! They must: Sir Charles Grandison brings them with himself. Health now will return to our lovely cousin. We long to see the man of whom we have heard so much. We will dine with you. Tell Sir Charles, before we come, that you love us dearly: It shall make us redouble our endeavours to deserve your love. Your declared friendship, and love of us, will give consequence to
We are now in expectation—My aunt and I, tho' early risers, hurried ourselves to get every-thing, that however is never out of order, in higher order. Both of us have a kind of consciousness of defect, where yet we cannot find reason for it: If we did, we should supply it. Yet we are careful that every-thing has a natural, not an extraordinary appearance—Ease, with propriety, shall be our aim. My aunt says, that were the King to make us a visit, she is sure she could not have a greater desire to please.—I will go down, that I may avoid the appearance of parade and reserve, when he comes.
Here, in her closet, again, is your poor Harriet. Surely the determined single state is the happiest of lives, to young women, who have the greatness of mind to be above valuing the admiration and flatteries of the other Sex. What tumults, what a contrariety of passions, break the tranquility of the woman who yields up her heart to Love?—No Sir Charles Grandison, my dear!—Yet ten o'clock!—He is a very prudent man!—No expectations hurry or discompose him! Charming steadiness of Soul! A fine thing for himself, but far otherwise for the woman, when a man is secure! He will possibly ask me, and hold again my passive hand, in presence of half a score of my friends, Whether I was greatly uneasy because of his absence?
But let me try to excuse him. May he not have forgot his engagement? May he not have overslept himself?—Some agreeable dream of the Bologna family—I am offended at him—Did he learn this tranquility in Italy?—O no, no, Lady G.!
I now cannot help looking back for other faults in him, with regard to me. My memory is not, however, so malicious, as I would have it. But do you think every man, in the like situation, would have stopped at Stratford to dine by himself?—Not but your brother can be very happy in his own company. If he cannot, who can? But, as to that, his horses might require rest, as well as baiting: One knows not in how short a time he might have prosecuted his journey so far. He who will not suffer the noblest of all animals to be deprived of an ornament, would be merciful to them in greater instances. He says, that he cannot bear indignity from superiors. Neither can we. In that light he appears to us. But why so?—My heart, Lady G. begins to swell I assure you; and it it twice as big as it was last night.
My uncle before I came up, sat with his watch in his hand, from half an hour after nine, till near ten, telling the minutes as they crept. Mr. Deane often looked at me, and at my aunt, as if to see how we bore it. I blushed; looked silly, as if your brother's faults were mine.—Over in a fortnight! cried my uncle; ads-heart, I believe it will be half a year before we shall come to the question. But Sir Charles, to be sure, is offended. Your confounded female niceties!
My heart rose—Let him, if he dare, thought the proud Harriet.
God grant, added my uncle, that he may be gone up to town again!
Perhaps, said Mr. Deane, he is gone, by mistake, to Mrs. Shirley's.
We then endeavoured to recollect the words of his self-invitation hither. My cousin James proposed to take horse, and go to Northampton, to inform himself of the occasion of his not coming: Some misfortune, perhaps.
Had he not servants, my aunt asked, one of whom he might have sent?—Shall my cousin Jemmy go, however, Harriet, said she?
No, indeed, answered I, with an air of anger—My teasing uncle broke out into a loud laugh, which however had more of a vexedness than mirth in it.—He is certainly gone to London, Harriet! Just as I said, dame Selby!—Certainly tearing up the road; his very horses resenting, for their master, your scrupulosities. You'll hear from him next, at London, my life for yours, niece—Hah, hah, hah! What will your grandmamma say, by-and-by? Lucy, Nancy, how will they stare! Last night's supper, and this day's dinner, will be alike served in, and taken away.
I could not stand all this: I arose from my seat. Are you not unkind, Sir? said I to my uncle, curtsying to him however; and, desiring his and Mr. Deane's excuse, quitted the breakfasting parlour. Teasing man! said my aunt. Mr. Deane also blamed him; gently, however; for every-body acknowledges his good heart, and natural good temper.
My aunt followed me to the door; and taking my hand, Harriet, said she, speaking low, Not Sir Charles Grandison himself shall call you his, if he is capable of treating you with the least indifference. I understand not this, added she: He cannot surely be offended.—I hope all will be cleared up before your grandmamma comes: She will be very jealous of the honour of her girl.
I answered not: I could not answer: But hastened up to my place of refuge; and, after wiping from my cheeks a few tears of real vexation, took up my pen. You love to know my thoughts, as occasions arise. You bid me continue to write to the moment.—Here comes my aunt.
My aunt came in, with a Billet in her hand—Come down to breakfast, my dear: Sir Charles comes not till dinner-time. Read this: It was brought by one of his servants. He left it with Andrew. The dunce let him go. I wanted to have asked him a hundred questions.
To Mrs. Selby.
I am broke in upon by a most impertinent visitor. Such, at this time, must have been the dearest friend I have in the world. You will be so good as to excuse my attendance till dinner-time. For the past two hours I thought every moment of disengaging myself, or I should have sent sooner.
Ever Yours, &c.
What visitor, said I, can make a man stay, against his mind?—Who can get rid politely of an impertinent visitor, if Sir Charles Grandison cannot, on a previous engagement?—But come, madam, I attend you.—Down we went.
My uncle was out of patience. I was sorry for it. I tried to make the best of it; yet, but to pacify him, should, perhaps, have had petulance enough myself to make the worst of it.—Oy, oy, with all my heart, said he, in answer to my excuses, let us hear what Sir Charles has to say for himself. But, old as I am, were my dame Selby to give me another chance, no man on earth, I can tell you, should keep me from a previous engagement with my mistress. It is kind of you, Harriet, to excuse him, however: Love hides a multitude of faults.
My aunt said not one syllable in behalf of Sir Charles. She is vexed, and disappointed.
We made a very short breakfasting; and looked upon one another as people who would have helped themselves, if they could. Mr. Deane, however, would engage, he said, that we should be satisfied with Sir Charles's excuses, when we came to hear them.
But, my dear, this man, this visitor, whoever he is, must be of prodigious importance, to detain him, from an engagement that I had hoped might have been thought a first engagement;—yet owned to be impertinent. And must not the accident be very uncommon, that should bring such a one, a stranger as Sir Charles is, in his way? Yet this might very well happen, my uncle observes, at an inn, whither we thought fit to send him.
Now I think of it, I was strangely disturbed last night in my imperfect slumbers: Something, I thought, was to happen to prevent me ever being his. But hence, Recollection! I chase thee from me. Yet when realities disturb, shadows will officiously obtrude on the busy imagination as realities.
Friday, 12 o'Clock.
My grandmamma is come—Lucy, Nancy, are come—O how vexed at our disappointment and chagrin are my two cousins! But my grandmamma joins with Mr. Deane, to think the best. I have stolen up. But here, he is come! How shall I do to keep my anger? He shall find me below. I will see how he looks, at entrance among us—If he is careless—If he makes slight excuses—
Volume VI - lettera 15
Volume VI - Letter 16
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Friday, Two o'Clock.
I am stolen up again, to tell you how it is. I never will be petulant again—Dear Sir, forgive me! How wicked in us all, but my grandmamma and Mr. Deane, to blame a man who cannot be guilty of a wilful fault! The fault is all my aunt's and mine—Was my aunt ever in fault before?
We were all together when he entered. He addressed himself to us, in that noble manner, which engages every-body in his favour, at first sight. How, said he, bowing to every one, have I suffered, in being hindered, by an unhappy man, from doing myself the honour of attending you sooner!
You see, my dear, he made not apologies to me, as if he supposed me disappointed by his absence. I was afraid he would. I know I looked very grave.
He then particularly addressed himself to each; to me first; next to my grandmamma; and taking one of her hands between both his, and bowing upon it, I rejoice to see you, madam, said he—Your last favours will ever be remembered by me, with gratitude. I see you well, I hope. Your Miss Byron will be well, if you are; and our joy, looking round him, will then be complete.
She bowed her head, pleased with his compliment; so were my aunt, and Lucy, and Nancy. I was still a little sullen; otherwise I should have been pleased too, that he made my health depend on that of my grandmamma.
Madam, said he, turning to my aunt, I am afraid I made you wait for me at breakfast. A most impertinent visitor! He put me out of humour. I dared not to let you and yours (looking at me) see, how much I could be out of humour. I am naturally passionate: But passion is so ugly, so deforming a thing, that, if I can help it, I will never, by those I love, be seen in it.
I am sorry, Sir, said my aunt, you meet with anything to disturb you.
My uncle's spirit had not come down: He, too, was sullen in behalf of the punctilio of the girl whom he honours with his jealous Love. How, how, is that, Sir Charles? said he.
My aunt presented Lucy and Nancy to him: But before she could name either—Miss Selby, said he, Miss Byron's own Lucy, I am sure. Miss Nancy Selby!—I know your characters, Ladies, saluting each, and I know the interest you have in Miss Byron.—Honour me with your approbation, and that will be to give me hope of hers.
He then turning to my uncle and Mr. Deane, and taking a hand of each—My dear Mr. Deane, smiles upon me, said he—But Mr. Selby looks grave.—
At-ten-tive only Sir Charles, to the cause of your being put out of humour, that's all—
The cause, Mr. Selby!—Know, then, I met with a man at my inn, who would force himself upon me: Do you know I am a quarrelsome man? He was so hardy as to declare, that he had pretensions to a Lady in this company, which he was determined to assert.
O that Greville! said my aunt—
I was ready to sink. Wretched Harriet! thought I, at the instant: Am I to be for ever the occasion of embroiling this excellent man!
My grandmamma, Mr. Deane, my uncle, my cousin James, all spoke at once—Dear, dear Sir Charles, said one, said another—How, how, was it?
Both safe! Both unhurt! No more of the rash man, at this time. He is to be pitied. He loves Miss Byron to distraction.
This comes of nicety! whispered my uncle, to my aunt: foolish nicety!—To let such a man as this go to an inn!—Inhospitable, vile punctilio! Then turning to Sir Charles—Dear Sir, forgive me! I was a little serious, that I must own [I pulled my uncle by the sleeve, fearing he would say too much by way of atonement for his seriousness]:—I, I, I, was a little serious, I must own—I, I, I, was afraid something was the matter—turned he off, what he was going to say—too freely, shall I say?—Hardly so! had he said what he would; tho' habitual punctilio made me almost involuntarily twitch my uncle by the sleeve: for my heart would have directed my lips to utter the kindest things; but my concern was too great to allow them to obey it.
I must go down, Lady G.—I am enquired after; 'tis just dinner-time—Let me only add, that Sir Charles waved further talk of the affair between him and that wretch, while I stayed—perhaps they have got it out of him since I came up.
I shall be so proud, my dear!—a thousand fine things he has said of your Harriet, in her little absence!—Lucy, Nancy, call him THE man: And every one looks upon him as if there were not one soul in company but he and themselves. My grandmamma's eyes are complained of as weak, to colour her joyful emotion: But, thank God, her eyes are not weak. And he is so respectfully tender to her, that had he not my heart before, he would have won it now.
He had again waved the relation of the insult he met with: Mr. Greville himself, he supposed, would give it. He had a mind to see if the gentleman, by his report of it, was a gentleman. Thank God, said he, I have not hurt a man who boasts of his passion for Miss Byron; and of his neighbourhood to this family!
Our places were chosen for us at table: Sir Charles's next me. Cannot I be too minute, do you say?—So easy, so free, so polite; something so happily addressed occasionally to each person at table—O my dear! I am abundantly kept in countenance; for every one loves him, as well as I. You have been pleased to take very favourable notice of our servants—They are good, and sensible. What reverence for him, and joy for their young mistress's sake, shone in their countenances as they attended!
My cousin James, who has never been out of England, was very curious to be informed of the manners, customs, diversions, of the people in different countries—Italy, in particular—Ah the dear Clementina! What abatement from recollection! 'The sighing heart,' I remember he says, in one of his Letters to Dr. Bartlett, 'will remind us of imperfection, in the highest of our enjoyments. ' And he adds, 'It is fit it should be so.' And on what occasion did he write this?—O my Charlotte, I was the occasion! It was in kind remembrance of me! He could not, at that time, have so written, had he been indifferent, even then, to your Harriet.
I am so apprehensive of my uncle's after remarks, that I am half-afraid to look at Sir Charles: And he must by-and-by return to this wicked inn—They wonder at my frequent absences. It is to oblige you, Lady G. and indeed myself: There is vast pleasure in communicating one's pleasures to a friend who interests herself, as you do, in one's dearest concerns.
You know and admire my grandmamma's cheerful compliances with the innocent diversions of youth: She made Lucy give us a lesson on the harpsichord, on purpose, I saw, to draw me in. We both obeyed.
I was once a little out in an Italian song. In what a sweet manner did he put me in! touching the keys himself, for a minute or two. Every one wished him to proceed; but he gave up to me, in so polite a manner, that we all were satisfied with his excuses.
My poor cousin Jemmy is on a sudden very earnest to go abroad; as if, silly youth, travelling would make him a Sir Charles Grandison!
I have just asked your brother, If all is over between Mr. Greville and him? He says, He hopes and believes so. God send it may; or I shall hate that Greville!
My uncle, Mr. Deane, and my cousin James, were too much taken with Sir Charles, to think of withdrawing, as it might have been expected they would; and after some general conversation, that succeeded our playing, Sir Charles drew his chair between my grandmamma and aunt, and taking my grandmamma's hand, May I not be allowed a quarter of an hour's conversation with Miss Byron in your presence, Ladies? said he, speaking low. We have indeed only friends and relations present: But it will be most agreeable, I believe, to the dear Lady, that what I have to say to her, and to you, may be rather reported to the gentlemen, than heard by them.
By all means, Sir Charles, said my grandmamma. Then whispering to my aunt, No man in this company thinks, but Sir Charles. Excuse me my dear.
The moment Sir Charles applied himself in this particular manner to them, my heart, without hearing what he said, was at my mouth. I arose, and withdrew to the cedar-parlour, followed by Lucy and Nancy. The gentlemen, seeming to recollect themselves, withdrew likewise, to another apartment. My aunt came to me—Love!—But ah! my dear, how you tremble!—You must come with me, And then she told me what he had said to my grandmamma and her.
I have no courage—None at all, said I, If apprehension, if timidy, be signs of Love, I have them all. Sir Charles Grandison has not one.
Nay, my dear, said Lucy, impute not to him want of respect, I beseech you.—Respect, my Lucy! What a poor word!—Had I only respect for him, we should be nearer an equality.—Has he said any-thing of Lady Clementina?
Don't be silly, Harriet, said my aunt. You used to be—
Used to be!—Ah, madam! Sir Charles's heart, at best, a divided heart! I never had a trial till now.
I tell you all my foibles, Lady G.
My aunt led me in to Sir Charles and my grandmamma. He met me at my entrance into the room, and in the most engaging manner, my aunt having taken her seat, conducted me to a chair which happened to be vacant between her and my grandmother. He took no notice of my emotion, and I the sooner recovered myself, and still the sooner, as he himself seemed to be in some little confusion. However, he sat down, and with a manly, yet respectful air, his voice gaining strength as he proceeded, thus delivered himself.
Never, Ladies, was man more particularly circumstanced than he before you. You know my story: You know what once were the difficulties of my situation with a family that I must ever respect; with a Lady of it whom I must ever revere: And you, madam (to my grandmamma) have had the goodness to signify to me, in a most engaging manner, that Miss Byron has added to the innumerable instances which she has given me of her true greatness of mind, a kind, and even a friendly concern for a Lady who is the Miss Byron of Italy. I ask not excuse for the comparison. The heart of the man before you, madam (to me) in sincerity and frankness emulates your own.—
You want not excuse, Sir, said my grandmamma—We all reverence Lady Clementina: We admire her.
He bowed to each of us; as my aunt and I looked I believe, assentingly to what my grandmamma said. He proceeded:
Yet in so particular a situation, altho' what I have to say, may, I presume, be collected from what you know of my story; and tho' my humble application to Miss Byron for her favour, and to you, Ladies, for your interest with her, have not been discouraged; something, however, may be necessary to be said, in this audience, of the state of my own heart, for the sake of this dear Lady's delicacy, and yours. And I will deliver myself with all the truth and plainness which I think are required in treaties of this nature, equally with those set on foot between nation and nation.
I am not insensible to Beauty: But the beauty of person only, never yet had power over more than my eye; to which it gave a pleasure like that which it receives from the flowers of a gay parterre. Had not my heart been out of the reach of personal attractions, if I may so express myself; and had I been my own master; Miss Byron, in the first hour that I saw her (for her beauty suffered not by her distress) would have left me no other choice: But when I had the honour of conversing with her, I observed in her mind and behaviour that true dignity, delicacy, and noble frankness, which I ever thought characteristic in the Sex, but never met with, in equal degree, but in one Lady. I soon found, that my admiration of her fine qualities was likely to lead me into a gentler, yet a more irresistible passion: For of the Lady abroad I then could have no reasonable, at least, no probable hope: Yet were there circumstances between her and me, which I thought, in strict justice, obliged me to attend the issue of certain events.
I called myself therefore to account, and was alarmed when I found that Miss Byron's graces had stolen so imperceptibly on my heart, as already to have made an impression on it too deep for my tranquillity. I determined therefore, in honour, in justice, to both Ladies, to endeavour to restrain a passion so new, yet likely to be so fervent.
I had avocations in town, while Miss Byron was with my sisters in the country. Almost afraid of trusting myself in her presence, I pursued the more willingly those avocations in person, when I could have managed some of them, perhaps, near as well by other hands. Compassion for the one Lady, because of her calamity, might, at that time, I found, have been made to give way, could those calamities have been overcome, to Love for the other. Nor was it difficult for me to observe, that my sisters and Lord L. who knew nothing of my situation, would have chosen for a sister the young Lady present, before every other woman.
Sometimes, I will own to you, I was ready, from that self-partiality and vanity which is too natural to men of vivacity and strong hopes, to flatter myself, that I might, by my sisters interest, have made myself, not unacceptable to a Lady, who seemed to be wholly disengaged in her affections: But I would not permit myself to dwell on such hopes: Every look of complaisance, every smile, which used to beam over that lovely countenance, I attributed to her natural goodness, and frankness of heart, and to that grateful spirit which made her over-rate a common service that I had been so happy as to render her. Had I even been free, I should have been careful not to deprive myself of that animating sunshine, by a too early declaration. For well did I know, by other men's experience, that Miss Byron, at the same time that her natural politeness, and sweetness of manners, engaged every heart, was not, however, easily to be won.
But, notwithstanding all my efforts to prevent a competition which had grown so fast upon me, I still found my uneasiness increase with my affection for Miss Byron. I had then but one way left—It was, to strengthen my heart, in Clementina's cause, by Miss Byron's assistance: In short, to acquaint Miss Byron with my situation; to engage her generosity for Clementina, and thereby deprive myself of the encouragement my fond heart might have hoped for, had I indulged my wishes of obtaining her favour. My end was answered, as to the latter. Miss Byron's generosity was engaged for the Lady; but was it possible that my obligations to her for that generosity should not add to my admiration of her?
At the time I laid before her my situation (it was in Lord L's Study at Colnebrooke) she saw my emotion. I could not conceal it. My abrupt departure from her, must convince her, that my heart was too much engaged for that situation (Note: See Vol. 3, Letter 21). I desired Dr. Bartlett to take an airing with me, in hopes, by his counsels, to compose my disordered spirits (Note: See Vol. 3, Letter 21). He knew the state of my heart: He knew, with regard to the proposals I had formerly made to the family at Bologna, relating to Religion and Residence (as I had also declared to the brothers of the Lady) that no worldly grandeur should ever have induced me to allow, in a beginning address, the terms, I was willing, as a compromise, to allow to that Lady; for thoroughly had I weighed the inconveniencies which must attend such an alliance: The Lady zealous in her Religion; the Confessor who was to be allowed her, equally zealous; the spirit of making proselytes so strong, and held by Roman Catholics to be so meritorious; and myself no less in earnest in my Religion; I had no doubt to pronounce, I told the good Doctor, in confidence, 'that I should be much more happy in marriage with the Lady of Selby-house, were she to be induced to honour me with her hand, than it was possible I could be with Lady Clementina, even were they to comply with the conditions I had proposed; as I doubted not but that Lady would also be, were her health restored, with a man of her own nation and Religion:' And I owned to him, besides, 'that I could have no hope of conquering the opposition given me by the friends of Clementina; and that I could not at times but think hardly of the indignities cast upon me by some of them.'
The doctor, I knew, at the same time that he lamented the evil treatment Clementina met with from her mistaken friends, and her unhappy malady; and admired her for her manifold excellencies; next to adored Miss Byron: And he gave his voice accordingly. 'But here, doctor, is the case, said I—Clementina is a woman with whom I had the honour of being acquainted before I knew Miss Byron: Clementina has infinite merits: She herself refused me not: She consented to accept of the terms I offered: She even besought her friends to comply with them. She has an opinion of my honour, and of my tenderness for her. Till I had the happiness of knowing Miss Byron, I was determined to await either her recovery or release; and will Miss Byron herself, if she knows that, forgive me (the circumstances not changed) for the change of a resolution of which Clementina was so worthy? The treatment the poor Lady has met with, for my sake, as once she wrote, tho' virgin modesty induced her to cross out those words, has heightened her disorder. She still to this moment, wishes to see me: While there is a possibility, tho' not a probability, of my being made the humble instrument of restoring an excellent woman, who in herself deserves from me every consideration of tenderness, ought I to wish to engage the heart (were I able to succeed in my wishes) of the equally-excellent Miss Byron?—Could I be happy in my own mind, were I to try, and to succeed? And if not, must I not be as ungrateful to her, as ungenerous to the other?—Miss Byron's happiness cannot depend on me. She must be happy in the happiness she will give to the man of her choice, whoever shall be the man!'
We were all silent. My grandmamma and aunt seemed determined to be so; and I could not speak. He proceeded:
You know not, dear Miss Byron, I wished you not to know, the conflicts my mind laboured with, when I parted with you on my going abroad. My destiny was wrapped up in doubt, and uncertainty. I was invited over: Signor Jeronymo was deemed irrecoverable: He wished to see me, and desired but to live to see me. My presence was requested as a last effort to recover his noble sister. You yourself, madam, applauded my resolution to go: But, that I might not be thought to wish to engage you in my favour (so circumstanced as I was, that to have done so, would have been to have acted unworthily to both Ladies,) I insinuated my hopelessness of ever being nearer to you than I was.
I was not able to take a formal leave of you. I went over. Success attended the kind, the soothing treatment which Clementina met with from her friends. Success also attended the means used for the recovery of the noble Jeronymo. Conditions were again proposed. Clementina, on her restoration, shone upon us all even with a brighter lustre than she did before her disorder. All her friends consented to reward with the hand of their beloved daughter, the man to whom they attributed secondarily the good they rejoiced in. I own to you, Ladies, that what was before honour and compassion, now became admiration; and I should have been unjust to the merits of so excellent a woman, if I could not say, Love. I concluded myself already the husband of Clementina; yet it would have been strange, if the welfare and happiness of Miss Byron were not the next wish of my heart. I rejoiced that (despairing as I did of such an event before I went over, because of the articles of Religion and Residence) I had not sought to engage more than her friendship; and I devoted myself wholly to Clementina—I own it, Ladies—And had I thought, Angel as she came out, upon proof, that I could not have given her my heart, I had been equally unjust, and ungrateful. For, dear Ladies, if you know all her story, you must know, that occasion called her out to act gloriously; and that gloriously she answered the call.
He paused. We were still silent. My grandmamma and aunt looked at each other by turns. But their eyes, as well as mine, at different parts of his speech showed their sensibility. He proceeded, gracefully looking down, and at first with some little hesitation.
I am sensible, it was with a very ill grace, that, refused, as I must in justice call it, tho' on the noblest motives, by Clementina, I come to offer myself, and so soon after her refusal, to a Lady of Miss Byron's delicacy. I should certainly have acted more laudably, respecting my own character only, had I taken at least the usual time of a Widower-Love. But great minds, such as Miss Byron's, and yours, Ladies, are above common forms, where decorum is not too much neglected. As to myself, what do I, but declare a passion, that would have been, but for one obstacle, which is now removed, as fervent as man ever knew? Dr. Bartlett has told me, madam [to me], that you and my sisters have seen the Letters I wrote to him from Italy: By the contents of some of those, and of the Letters I left with you, madam [to my grandmamma], you have seen Clementina's constant adherence to the step she so greatly took. In this Letter, received but last Wednesday [taking one out of his bosom], you will see (my last Letters to them unreceived, as they must be) that I am urged by all her family, for the sake of setting her an example, to address myself to a Lady of my own country. This impels me, as I may say, to accelerate the humble tender of my vows to you, madam. However hasty the step may be thought, in my situation; Would not an inexcusable neglect, or seeming indifference, as if I were balancing as to the person, have been attributable to me, had I, for dull and cold form's sake, been capable of postponing the declaration of my affection to Miss Byron? And if, madam, you can so far get over observances, which perhaps, on consideration, will be found to be punctilious only, as to give your heart, with your hand, to a man who himself has been perplexed by what some would call (particular as it sounds) a double Love (an embarrassment, however, not of his own seeking, or which he could possibly avoid) you will lay him under obligation to your goodness (to your magnanimity, I will call it) which all the affectionate tenderness of my life to come will never enable me to discharge.
He then put the Letter (a translation of it inclosed) into my hand. I have already answered it, madam, said he, and acquainted my friend, that I have actually tendered myself to the acceptance of a Lady worthy of a sisterly relation to their Clementina; and have not been rejected. Your goodness must enable me (I humbly hope it will) to give them still stronger assurances of your favour: On my happiness they have the generosity to build a part of their own.
Not well before, I was more than once apprehensive of fainting, as he talked, agreeable as was his talk, and engaging as was his manner. My grandmamma and aunt saw my complexion change at his particular address to me, in the last part of his speech. Each put her kind hand on one of mine, and held it on it, as my other hand held my handkerchief now to my eyes, and now as a cover to my self-felt varying cheek.
At the same moment that he ceased speaking, he took our triply-united hands in both his; and in the most respectful, yet graceful manner, his Letter laid in my lap, pressed each of the three with his lips; mine twice. I could not speak. My grandmamma and aunt, delighted, yet tears standing in their eyes, looked upon each other, and upon me; each as expecting the other to speak. I have perhaps, said he, with some emotion, taken up too much of Miss Byron's attention on this my first personal declaration: I will now return to the company below. To-morrow I will do myself the honour to dine with you. We will for this evening postpone the important subject. Miss Byron, I presume, will be best pleased to have it so. I shall to-morrow be favoured with the result of your deliberations. Mean time may I meet with an interceding friend in every one I have had the pleasure to see this day! I must flatter myself with the honour of Miss Byron's whole heart, as well as with the approbation of all her friends. I cannot be thought at present, to deserve it; but it shall be the endeavour of my life so to do.
He withdrew, with a grace which was all his own.
The moment he was gone from us, my grandmamma threw her arms about her Harriet, then about my aunt; and they congratulated me, and each other.
We were all pained at heart, when we read the Letter. It is from Signor Jeronymo, urging your brother to set the example to his sister, which they so much want her to follow. I send you the translation. Pray return it. Poor Lady Clementina! Without seeing the last Letters he wrote to them, she seems to be tired into compliance. I will not say one half that is upon my mind on this occasion, as you will have the Letter before you. His last-written Letters will not favour her wishes. Poor Lady! Can I forbear to pity her? And still the more is she to be pitied, as your brother's excellencies rise upon us.
I besought my aunt to excuse me to the company.
Sir Charles joined his friends (his friends indeed they are all!) with a vivacity in his air and manner, which charmed every-body; while the silly heart of your Harriet would not allow her to enter into company the whole night. Indeed it wanted the inducement of his presence; for, to every one's regret, he declined staying supper; yet my uncle put it to him—What, Sir, do you choose to sup at your inn? My uncle will have it, that Sir Charles looked an answer of displeasure for suffering him to go to it at all. My uncle is a good-natured man. He will sometimes concede, when he is not convinced; and on every appearance which makes for his opinion, we are sure to hear of it.
I shall have an opportunity to-morrow morning early (This morning I might say) to send this long Letter by a neighbour, who is obliged to ride post to town on his own affairs.
Had I not had this agreeable employment, rest, I am sure, would not have come near me. Your brother, I hope, has found it. Remember, I always mean to include my dear Lady L. in this correspondence: Any-body else, but discretionally. My dear Ladies both, Adieu.
Volume VI - lettera 16
Volume VI - Letter 17
SIGNOR JERONYMO DELLA PORRETTA TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Bologna, Sunday, Sept. 24. & Oct. 5.
We have at last, my Grandison, some hopes given us, that our dear Clementina will yield to our wishes.
The General, with his Lady, made us a visit from Naples, on purpose to make a decisive effort, as he called it; and vowed that he would not return till he left her in a disposition to oblige us. The Bishop at one time brought the Patriarch to reason with her; who told her, that she ought not to think of the veil, unless her father and mother consented to her assuming it.
Mrs. Beaumont was prevailed upon to favour us with her company. She declared for us: And on Thursday last Clementina was still harder set. Her Father, Mother, the General and his Lady, the Bishop, all came into my chamber, and sent for her. She came. Then did we all supplicate her to oblige us. The General was at first tenderly urgent: The Bishop besought her: The young Marchioness pressed her: Her Mother took her hand between both hers, and in silent tears could only sigh over it: And, lastly, my Father dropped down on one knee to her. My daughter, my child, said he, oblige me. Your Jeronymo could not refrain from tears.
She fell on her knee—O my Father, said she, rise, or I shall die at your feet! Rise, my Father!
Not, my dear, till you consent to oblige me.
Grant me but a little time, my Father, my dear, my indulgent Father!
The General thought he saw a flexibility which we had never before seen in her on this subject, and called upon her for her instant determination. Shall a Father kneel in vain? said he. Shall a Mother in weeping silence in vain entreat?—Now, my sister, comply—or—He sternly stopped.
Have patience with me, said she, but till the Chevalier's next Letters come: You expect them soon. Let me receive his next Letter. And putting her hand to her forehead—Rise, my Father, or I die at your feet!
I thought the General pushed too hard. I begged that the next Letters might be waited for.
Be it so, said my father, rising, and raising her: But whatever be the contents, remember, my dearest child, that I am your Father, your indulgent Father; and oblige me.
My dear Clementina, said the General, will not this paternal goodness prevail upon you? Your Father, Mother, Brothers, are all ready to kneel to you; Yet are we all to be slighted? And is a foreigner, an Englishman, a Heretic (great and noble as is the man; a man, too, whom you have so gloriously refused) to be preferred to us all? Who can bear the thoughts of such a preference!
And remember, my Sister, said the Bishop, that you already know his opinion. You have already had his advice, in the Letters he wrote to you in the month's correspondence which passed between you, before he left Italy. Think you, that the Chevalier Grandison can recede from an opinion solemnly given, the circumstances not having varied?
I have not been well. It is wicked to oppose my Father, my Mother: I cannot argue with my Brothers. I have not been well. Spare me, spare me, my Lords, to the General and the Bishop. My Father gives me time: Don't you deny it me.
My mother, afraid of renewing her disorder, said; Withdraw, my dear, if you choose to do so, and compose yourself: The intention is not to compel, but to persuade you.
O madam! said she, persuasion so strongly urged by my parents, is more than compulsion.—I take the liberty you give me.
She hurried to Mrs. Beaumont, and, throwing her arms about her, O madam, I have been oppressed! Oppressed by persuasion! By a kneeling Father! By a weeping Mother! By entreating Brothers!—And this is but persuasion!—Cruel persuasion!
Mrs. Beaumont then entered into argument with her. She represented to her the General's inflexibility: Her Father's and Mother's indulgence: The wishes of her two other Brothers: She pleaded your opinion given as an impartial man, not merely as a Protestant: She told her of an admirable young Lady of your own country, who was qualified to make you happy: of whom she had heard several of your countrymen speak with great distinction. This last plea, as the intimate friendship between you and Mrs. Beaumont is so well known, took her attention. She would not for the world stand in the way of the Chevalier Grandison. She wished you to be happy, she said, whatever became of her. Father Marescotti strongly enforced this point; and advised her to come to some resolution, before your next Letters arrived, as it was not to be doubted, but the contents of them would support your former opinion. The Patriarch's arguments were re-urged with additional force. A day was named when she was again to be brought before her assembled friends. Mrs. Beaumont applauded her for the magnanimity she had already shown, in the discharge of her first duty; and called upon her to distinguish herself equally in the filial.
Clementina took time to consider of these and other arguments; and after three hours passed in her closet, she gave the following written paper to Mrs. Beaumont; which, she said, she hoped, when read in full assembly, would excuse her from attending her friends in the proposed congress.
'I am tired out, my dear Mrs. Beaumont, with your kindly-meant importunities:
'With the importunities, prayers, and entreaties of my brothers.
'O my mamma, how well do you deserve even implicit obedience, from a daughter who has overclouded your happy days! You never knew discomfort till your hapless Clementina gave it you! The sacrifice of my life would be a poor atonement for what I have made you suffer.
'But who can withstand a kneeling Father? Indeed my papa, ever good, ever indulgent, I dread to see you! Let me not again behold you as on Thursday last.
'I have denied to my self, and such the motive, that I must not, I do not repent it, the man I esteemed. I never can be his.
'Father Marescotti, tho' he now loves the man, suggests, that my late disorder might be a judgment upon me for suffering my heart to be engaged by the Heretic.
'I am absolutely forbidden to think of atoning for my fault by the only measure that, in my opinion, could have done it.
'You tell me, Mrs. Beamount, and all my friends, join with you, that honour, generosity, and the esteem which I avow for the Chevalier Grandison, as my friend, as my fourth brother, all join to oblige me to promote the happiness of a man I myself have disappointed. And you are of opinion, that there is one particular woman of his own country, who is capable of making him happy—But do you say, that I ought to give the example?—Impossible. Honour, and the punctilio of woman, will not permit me to do that!—
'But thus pressed; thus dreading again to see a kneeling Father; a weeping Mother; and having reason to think I may not live long; that a relapse into my former malady, with the apprehensions of which Father Marescotti terrifies me, may be the punishment of my disobedience [Cruel Father Marescotti, to terrify me with an affliction I so much dread!]; and that it will be a consolation to me, in my departing hour, to reflect that I have obeyed my parents, in an article on which their hearts are immoveably fixed; and still further being assured, that they will look upon my resignation as a compensation for all the troubles I have given them, for many many months passed—God enable me, I pray, to resign to their will. But if I cannot, shall I be still entreated, still persuaded?—I hope not.—I will do my endeavour to prevail on myself to obey—But whatever be the event of my Self-contendings, Grandison must give the example.'
How did we congratulate ourselves, when we read this paper, faint as are the hopes it gives us!
Our whole endeavour is now, to treat her with tender observance, that she may not think of receding. Nor will we ask her to see the person she knows we favour, till we can assure her, that you will set her the example. And if there be a Lady with whom you think you could be happy, may not this, my dear Grandison, pleaded by you, be a motive with her?
The Count of Belvedere has made overtures to us, which are too great for our acceptance, were this alliance to take place. We have been told, but not by himself, the danger to which his despair had subjected him, in more than one visit to you at Bologna, had you not borne with his rashness. You know him to be a man of probity, of piety. He is a zealous Catholic; and you must allow, that a religious zeal is a strengthener, a confirmer, of all the social sanctions. He is learned; and, being a domestic man, he, contrary to the Italian custom, admires in a wife those intellectual improvements which make a woman a fit companion for her husband. You know how much the Marchioness excels almost all the women of quality in Italy, in a taste for polite literature: You know she has encouraged the same taste in her daughter; and the Count considers her as the only woman in Italy with whom he can be happy.
As you, my Grandison, cannot now be my brother by marriage, the Count of Belvedere is the only man in the world I can wish to be so. He is of Italy. My sister, always so dear to us, and he, will be ever with us, or we with them. He knows the unhappy way she has been in; and was so far from making that an objection, that when her malady was at the height (being encouraged by physicians to hope that her recovery would be the probable consequence) he would have thought himself the happiest of men, could he have been honoured with her hand. He knows her Love of you. He adores her for her motive of refusing you. He loves you; and is confident of the inviolable honour of both: Whose alliance, on all these considerations, can be so desirable to us as that with the Count of Belvedere?
Surely, my dear friend, it must be in your power to set the example: In yours, who could subdue a whole family of zealous Catholics, and keep your own religion; and who could engage the virgin heart of one of the most delicate women in the world. What woman, who has a heart to bestow; what family, that has a daughter or sister to give, can withstand you? Religion and Country of both the same?
Give us hope, therefore, my dear Grandison, that you will make the effort. Assure us, that you will not scruple, if you can succeed, to set the example: and on this assurance we will claim from Clementina the effects of the hope she has given us: And if we can prevail, will in England return you thanks for the numberless favours you have conferred upon us.
Thus earnestly, as well from inclination, as in compliance with the pressing entreaties of every one of a family which I hope are still, and ever, will be, dear to you, do I, your Jeronymo, your Brother, your Friend, solicit you. Mrs. Beaumont joins with us. She scruples not, she bids me tell you, to pronounce, that you and Clementina will both be more happy; she, with the Count of Belvidere (your respective Countries so distant, your Religion so different); you, with an Englishwoman; than you could have been with each other. Mrs. Beaumont has owned to me in private, that you often in conversation with her, even while you had hope of calling Clementina yours, lamented, for her sake, as well as your own, the unhappy situation, with respect to Religion, you were both in; and that you had declared more than once to her, as indeed you did once to us, that in a beginning address you would not have compromised thus with a Princess. May we not expect every-thing, my Grandison, from your magnanimity? We hope it is in your power, and we doubt not your will, to contribute to our happiness. But whatever be the event, I beseech you, my dear friend, continue to love
Volume VI - lettera 17
Volume VI - Letter 18
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Grosvenor-Square, Sunday, Oct. 15.
Can I forgive your pride, your petulance?—No, Harriet; positively no! I write to scold you; and having ordered my Lord to sup abroad, I shall perhaps oblige you with a long Letter. We honest folks, who have not abundance of Love-fooling upon our hands, find ourselves happy in a good deal of quiet leisure; and I love to chide and correct you wise ones.—Thus then I begin—
Ridiculous parade among you! I blame you all. Could he not have been Mrs. Shirley's guest, if he was not to be permitted to repose under the same roof with his sovereign Lady and Mistress? But must you let him go to an inn?—What for? Why to show the world he was but on a foot, at present, with your other humble servants; and be thought no more, by the insolent Greville, and affronted as an invader of his rights. Our Sex is a foolish Sex: Too little or too much parade. Lord help us! Were it not that we must be afraid to appear over-forward to the man himself, the world is a contemptible thing, and we should treat it as such.
And yet, after all, what with Lady Clementina, what with the world, and what with our own punctilio, and palpitating hearts, and-so-forth, and all that, and more than all that; I own you are pretty nicely circumstanced. But, my life for yours, you will behave like a simpleton, on occasion of his next address to you: And why? Did you ever know that people did not, who are full of apprehensions, who aimed at being very delicate, who were solicitous to take their measures from the judgment of those without them; pragmatical souls, perhaps, who from their notions either on what they have read, or by the addresses to them of their own silly fellows, awkward and unmeaning, and by no means to be compared, for integrity, understanding, politeness, to my brother? Consider, child, that he having seen, in different countries, perhaps a hundred women, equally specious with the present mistress of his destiny, were form and outward grace to be the attractives, is therefore fitter to give than take the example.
But, Harriet, I write to charge you not to increase your own difficulties by too much parade: Your frankness of heart is a prime consideration with him. He expects not to meet with the girl, but the sensible woman, in his address to you. He is pursuing a laudable end—Don't tease him with pug's tricks—'What, signifies asking me now?' Did you not lay your heads together? And the wisest which ever were set on women's shoulders? But indeed I never knew consultations of any kind turn to account. It is only a parcel of people getting together, proposing doubts, and puzzling one another, and ending as they began, if not worse. Doctors differ. So many persons, so many minds.
And O how our petulant heart throbbed with indignation, because he came not to breakfast with you! What benefit has a polite man over an unpolite one, where the latter shall have his rusticity allowed for (O that is his way!) and when the other has expectations drawn upon him, which, if not critically answered, he is not to be forgiven!—He is a prudent man! He may have overslept himself—Might dream of Clementina. Then it was a fault in him, that he stayed to dine on the road—His horses might want rest, truly!—Upon my word, Harriet, a woman in Love, is—a woman in Love. Wise or foolish before, we are all equally foolish then: The same froward, petulant, captious, babies!—I protest, we are very silly creatures, all of us, in these circumstances; and did not Love make men as great fools as ourselves, they would hardly think us worthy of their pursuit. Yet I am so true to the Free-masonry myself, that I would think the man who should dare to say half I have written, of our Dollships, ought not to go away with his life.
My sister and I are troubled about this Greville. Inform us, the moment you can, of the particulars of what passed between my brother and him; pray do. We long also to see the Letter he has put into your hands, from Bologna. It is on the road, we hope.
Caroline and I are as much concerned for your honour, your punctilio, as you, or any of you, can be. But by the account you give me of my brother's address to you in presence of your grandmother and aunt, as well as from our knowledge of his politeness, neither you nor we need to trouble our heads about it: It may be all left to him. He knows so well what becomes the character of the woman whom he hopes to call his wife, that you will be sure of your dignity being preserved, if you place a confidence in him. And yet no man is so much above mere formal regards as he is. Let me enumerate instances, from your Letter before me.
His own intention, in the first place, not to surprise you by his visits, as you apprehended he would, which would have made him look like a man of self-imagined consequence to you—His providing himself with accommodations at an inn; and not giving way to the invitation, even of your sagacious uncle Selby [I must railly him. Does he spare me?]—His singling you out on Friday from your men-friends, yet giving you the opportunity of your aunt's and grandmother's company, to make his personal application to you for your favour—His requesting the interest of your other friends with you, as if he presumed not on your former acquaintance, and this after an application, not discouraged, made to your friends and you.
As to his equanimity in his first address to you; his retaining your hand, forsooth, before all your friends, and so-forth; never find fault with that, Harriet. [Indeed you do make an excuse for the very freedom you blame—So Lover-like!—] He is the very man, that a conscious young woman, as you are, should wish to be addressed by: So much courage, yet so much true modesty—What, I warrant, you would have had a man chalked out for you, who should have stood at distance, bowed, scraped, trembled; while you had nothing to do, but bridle, and make stiff curtsies to him, with your hands before you—Plagued with his doubts, and with your can dissidences; afraid he would now, and now, and now, pop out the question; which he had not the courage to put; and so running on, simpering, fretting, fearing, two parallel lines, side by side, and never meeting; till some interposing friends, in pity to you both, put one's head pointing to the other's head, and stroking and clapping the shoulder of each, set you at each other, as men do by other dunghill-bred creatures.
You own, he took no notice of your emotion, when he first addressed himself to you; so gave you an opportunity to look up, which otherwise you would have wanted. Now don't you think you know a man creature or two, who would on such an occasion, have grinned you quite out of countenance, and insulted you with their pity for being modest?—But you own, that he had emotion too, when he first opened his mind to you—What a duce would the girl have?—Orme and Fowler in your head, no doubt! The tremblings of rejected men, and the phantasies of romantic women, were to be a rule to my brother, I suppose with your mock-majesty!—Ah, Harriet! Did I not say that we women are very silly creatures?—But my brother is a good man—So we must have something to find fault with him for.—Hah, hah, hah, hah, What do you laugh at, Charlotte?—What do I laugh at, Harriet?—Why, at the idea of a couple of Loveyers, taken each with a violent ague-fit, at their first approach to each other—Hands shaking—Knees trembling—Lips quivering—Tongue faltering—Teeth chattering—I had a good mind to present you with an ague-dialogue between such a trembling couple.—I, I, I, I, says the Lover—You, you, you, you, says the girl, if able to speak at all. But, Harriet, you shall have the whole, on demand. Rave at me, if you will: But Love, as it is called by boys and girls, shall ever be the subject of my ridicule. Does it not lead us girls into all manner of absurdities, inconveniencies, undutifulness, disgrace?—Villainous Cupidity!—It does.
To be serious—Neither does my brother address you in a stile that impeaches either his own understanding, or yours.—Another fault, Harriet, is it not?—But sure you are not so very a girl!
The justice he does to Lady Clementina and her family [Let me be very serious, when I speak of Clementina] is a glorious instance as well of his greatness of mind, as of his sincerity. He has no need to depreciate one Lady, to help him to exalt (or do justice, I should rather say, to) another. By praising her, he makes noble court to you, in supposing you, as you are, one of the most generous of women. How great is his compliment to both Ladies, when he calls Clementina the Miss Byron of Italy! Who, my dear, ever courted woman as my brother courts you? Indeed there can be but very few men who have such a woman to court.
He suffers you not to ask for an account of the state of his heart from the time he knew you first, till now. He gives it to you, unasked. And how glorious is that account, both to you, and himself!
Let us look back upon his conduct when last in Italy, and when every step seemed to lead to his being husband of another woman.
The recovery of Clementina, and of her noble brother, seem to be the consequence of his friendly goodness. The grateful family all join to reward him with their darling's hand; her heart supposed to be already his. He, like the man of honour he is, concludes himself bound by his former offers. They accept him upon those terms. The Lady's merits shine out with transcendent lustre in the eyes of every one, even of us his sisters, and of you, Harriet, and your best friends: Must they not in his, to whom Merit was ever the first, Beauty but the second attractive? He had no tie to any other woman on earth: He had only the tenderness of his own heart, with regard to Miss Byron, to contend with. Ought he not to have contended with it? He did; and so far conquered, as to enable himself to be just to the Lady, whose great qualities, and the concurrence of her friends in his favour, had converted Compassion for her into Love. And who, that hear her story, can forbear to Love her? But with what tenderness, with what politeness, does he, in his Letter to his chosen correspondent, express himself of Miss Byron! He declares, that if she were not to be happy, it would be a great abatement of his own felicity. You, however, remember how politely he recalls his apprehensions that you may not, on his account, be altogether so happy as he wishes, as the suggestions of his own presumption; and censures himself for barely supposing, that he had been of consequence enough with you to give you pain.
How much to your honour before he went over, does he account for your smiles, for your frankness of heart, in his company! He would not build upon them: Nor indeed could he know the state of your heart, as we did: He had not the opportunity. How silly was your punctilio, that made you sometimes fancy it was out of mere compassion that he revealed to you the state of his engagement abroad! You see he tells you, that such was his opinion of your greatness of mind, that he thought he had no other way but to put it in your power to check him, if his Love for you should stimulate him to an act of neglect to the Lady to whom (she having never refused him, and not being then in a condition either to claim him or set him free) he thought himself under obligation. Don't you revere him for his honour to her, the nature of her malady considered? What must he have suffered, in this conflict!
Well, and now by a strange turn in the Lady, but glorious to herself, as he observes, the obstacle removed, he applies to Miss Byron for her favour. How sensible is he of what delicacy requires from her! How justly (respecting his Love for you) does he account for not postponing, for the sake of cold and dull form, as he justly expresses it, his address to you! How greatly does the Letter he delivered to you, favour his argument! Ah the poor Clementina! Cruel persuades her relations! I hate and pity them, in a breath. Never, before, did hatred and pity meet in the same bosom, as they do in mine, on this occasion. His difficulties, my dear, and the uncommon situation he is in, as if he were offering you but a divided Love, enhance your glory. You are reinstated on the Female throne, to the lowermost footstep of which you once was afraid you had descended. You are offered a man, whose perplexities have not proceeded from the entanglements of intrigue, inconstancy, perfidy; but from his own compassionate nature: And could you, by any other way in the world than by this supposed divided Love, have had it in your power, by accepting his humbly-offered hand, to lay him under obligation to you, which he thinks he never shall be able to discharge? Lay him—Who?—Sir CHARLES GRANDISON—For whom so many virgin hearts have sighed in vain!—And what a triumph to our Sex is this, as well as to my Harriet!
And now, Harriet, let me tell you, that my sister and I are both in great expectations of your next Letter. It is, it must be, written before you will have this. My brother is more than man: You have only to show yourself to be superior to the forms of woman. If you play the fool with him, now, that you have the power you and we have so long wished you; if you give pain to his noble, because sincere heart, by any the least shadow of Female affectation; you, who have hitherto been distinguished for so amiable a frankness of heart; you, who cannot doubt his honour—the honour of a man who solicits your favour in even a great manner, a manner in which no man before him ever courted a woman, because few men before him have ever been so particularly circumstanced; a manner that gives you an opportunity to outshine, in your acceptance of him, even the noble Clementina in her refusal; as bigotry must have been, in part, her motive; if, I say, you act foolishly, weakly, now—Look to it—You will depreciate, if not cast away your own glory. Remember, you have a man to deal with, who, from our behaviour to Mrs. Oldham, at his first return to England, took measure of our minds, and, without loving us the less for it, looked down upon us with pity; and made us, ever since, look upon ourselves in a diminishing light, and as sisters who have greater reason to glory in their brother, than he has in them. Would you not rather, you who are to stand in a still nearer relation to him, invite his admiration, than his pity? Till Friday night last you had it: What Saturday has produced, we shall soon guess.
Not either Lord L. or Lord G. not Emily, not aunt Eleanor, now, either see or hear read what you write, except here-and-there a passage, which you yourself would not scruple to hear read to them. Are you not our third sister? To each of us our next Self: And, what gives you still more dignity, the elected wife of our brother!
Adieu, my love! In longing expectation of your next, we subscribe
Volume VI - lettera 18
Volume VI - Letter 19
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Saturday, Oct. 14.
Mr. Fenwick has just now been telling us, from the account given him by that Greville, vile man, how the affair was between him and Sir Charles Grandison. Take it briefly, as follows:
About Eight yesterday morning, that audacious wretch went to the George at Northampton; and, after making his enquiries, demanded an audience of Sir Charles Grandison. Sir Charles was near dressed, and had ordered his chariot to be ready, with intent to visit us early.
He admitted of Mr. Greville's visit. Mr. Greville confesses, that his own behaviour was peremptory (his word for insolent, I suppose). I hear, Sir, said he, that you are come down into this country in order to carry off from us the richest jewel in it—I need not say whom. My name is Greville: I have long made my addresses to her, and have bound myself under a vow, that, were a Prince to be my competitor, I would dispute his title to her.
You seem to be a princely man, Sir, said Sir Charles, offended with his air and words, no doubt. You need not, Mr. Greville, have told me your name: I have heard of you. What your pretensions are, I know not; your vow is nothing to me: I am master of my own actions; and shall not account to you, or any man living, for them.
I presume, Sir, you came down with the intention I have hinted at? I beg only your answer as to that. I beg it a favour, gentleman to gentleman?
The manner of your address to me, Sir, is not such as will entitle you to an answer for your own sake. I will tell you, however, that I am come down to pay my devoirs to Miss Byron. I hope for acceptance; and know not that I am to make allowance for the claim of any man on earth.
Sir Charles Grandison, I know your character: I know your bravery. It is from that knowledge that I consider you as a fit man for me to talk to. I am not a Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, Sir.
I make no account of who or what you are, Mr. Greville. Your visit is not, at this time, a welcome one: I am going to breakfast with Miss Byron. I shall be here in the evening, and at leisure, then, to attend to any-thing you shall think yourself authorised to say to me, on this or any other subject.
We may be overheard, Sir—Shall I beg you to walk with me into the garden below? You are going to breakfast, you say, with Miss Byron. Dear Sir Charles Grandison, oblige me with an audience, of five minutes only, in the back-yard, or garden.
In the evening, Mr. Greville, command me anywhere: But I will not be broken in upon now.
I will not leave you at liberty, Sir Charles, to make your visit where you are going, till I am gratified with one five minutes conference with you below.
Excuse me then, Mr. Greville, that I give orders, as if you were not here. Sir Charles ran. Up came one of his servants—Is the chariot ready?—Almost ready, was the answer.—Make haste. Saunders may see his friends in this neighbourhood: He may stay with them till Monday. Frederick and you attend me.
He took out a Letter, and read in it, as he walked about the room, with great composure, not regarding Mr. Greville, who stood swelling, as he owned, at one of the windows, till the servant withdrew; and then he addressed himself to Sir Charles in language of reproach on this contemptuous treatment.—Mr. Greville, said Sir Charles, you may be thankful, perhaps, that you are in my own apartment: This intrusion is a very ungentlemanly one.
Sir Charles was angry, and expressed impatience to be gone. Mr. Greville owned, that he knew not how to contain himself, to see his rival, with so many advantages in his person and air, dressed avowedly to attend the woman he had so long—Shall I say been troublesome to? For I am sure he had never the shadow of countenance from me.
I repeat my demand, Sir Charles, of a conference of five minutes below.
You have no right to make any demand upon me, Mr. Greville: If you think you have, the evening will be time enough. But, even then, you must behave more like a gentleman, than you have done hitherto, to entitle yourself to be considered as on a foot with me.
Not on a foot with you, Sir!—And he put his hand upon his sword. A gentleman is on a foot with a Prince, Sir, in a point of honour—
Go, then, and find out your prince, Mr. Greville: I am no Prince. And you have as much reason to address yourself to the man you never saw, as to me.
His servant just then showing himself, and withdrawing; Mr. Greville, added he, I leave you in possession of this apartment. Your servant, Sir. In the evening I shall be at your command.
One word with you, Sir Charles—One word—
What would Mr. Greville? turning back.
Have you made proposals? Are your proposals accepted?
I repeat, that you ought to have behaved differently, Mr. Greville, to be entitled to an answer to these questions.
Answer me, however, Sir: I beg it as a favour.
Sir Charles took out his watch.—After Nine: I shall make them wait. But thus I answer you: I have made proposals; and, as I told you before, I hope I shall he accepted.
Were you any other man in the world, Sir, the man before you might question your success with a woman whose difficulties are augmented by the obsequiousness of her admirers. But such a man as you, would not have come down on a fool's errand. I love Miss Byron to distraction. I could not show my face in the county, and suffer any man out of it to carry away such a prize.
Out of the county, Mr. Greville! What narrowness is this! But I pity you for your Love of Miss Byron: And—
You pity me, Sir! interrupted he.—I bear not such haughty tokens of superiority. Either give up your pretensions to Miss Byron, or make me sensible of it, in the way of a gentleman.
Mr. Greville, your servant: And he went down.
The wretch followed him; and when they came to the yard, and Sir Charles was stepping into the chariot, he took his hand, several persons present—We are observed, Sir Charles, whispered he. Withdraw with me, for a few moments. By the great God of Heaven, you must not refuse me. I cannot bear that you should go thus triumphantly on the business you are going upon.
Sir Charles suffered himself to be led by the wretch: And when they were come to a private spot, Mr. Greville drew, and demanded Sir Charles to do the like, putting himself in a posture of defence.
Sir Charles put his hand on his sword, but drew it not. Mr. Greville, said he, know your own safety; and was turning from him, when the wretch swore he would admit of no alternative, but his giving up his pretensions to Miss Byron.
His rage, as Mr. Fenwick describes it from himself, making him dangerous, Sir Charles drew.—I only defend myself, said he—Greville, you keep no guard—He put by his pass with his sword; and, without making a push, closed in with him, twisted his sword out of his hand; and, pointing his own to his breast, You see my power, Sir—Take your life, and your sword.—But if you are either wise, or would be thought a man of honour, tempt not again your fate.
And am I again master of my sword, and unhurt? 'Tis generous—The evening, you say?
Still I say, I will be yours in the evening, either at your own house, or at my inn; but not as a Duellist, Sir: You know my principles.
How can this be? and he swore—How was it done? Expose me not at Selby-house. How the devil could this be?—I expect you in the evening here.
And he went off a back-way. Sir Charles, instead of going directly into his chariot, went up to his apartment; wrote his Billet to my aunt to excuse himself, finding it full late to get hither in time, and being somewhat discomposed in his temper, as he owned to us: And then he took an airing in his chariot, till he came hither to dine.
But how should we have been alarmed, had we known that Sir Charles declined supping here, in order to meet the violent man again at his inn! And how did we again blame ourselves for taking amiss his not supping with us!
Mr. Fenwick says, that Mr. Greville got him to accompany him to the George.
Sir Charles apologised, with great civility, to Mr. Greville, for making him wait for him. Mr. Greville, had he been disposed for mischief, had no use of his right-arm. It was sprained by the twisting of his sword from it, and in a sling.
Sir Charles behaved to them both with great politeness; and Mr. Greville owned, that he had acted nobly by him, in returning his sword, even before his passion was calmed, and in not using his own. But it was some time, it seems, before he was brought into this temper. And what a good deal contributed to it, was, Sir Charles's acquainting him, that he had not given particulars at Selby-house, or to any-body, of the fray between them; but referred it to himself to give them, as he should think proper. This forbearance he highly applauded, and was even thankful for it. Fenwick shall, in confidence, said he, report this matter to your honour, and my own mortification, as the truth requires, at Selby-house. Let me not be hated by Miss Byron, on this account. My passion gave me disadvantage. I will try to honour you, Sir Charles: But I must hate you, if you succeed. One condition, however, I make: That you reconcile me to the Selbys, and Miss Byron; and if you are likely to be successful, let me have the credit of reporting, that it is by my consent.
They parted with civility; but not, it seems, till a late hour. Sir Charles, as Mr. Beauchamp and Dr. Bartlett have told us, was always happy in making, by his equanimity, generosity, and forgivingness, fast friends of inveterate enemies. Thank God, the issue was not unhappy!
Mr. Fenwick says, that the rencounter is very little guessed at, or talked of [Thank God for that too!]; and to those few, who have enquired of Mr. Greville or Mr. Fenwick about it, it has been denied; and now Greville, as Mr. Fenwick had done before, declares he will give out, that he yields up all his hopes of Miss Byron; but says, that Sir Charles Grandison, of whose address every-body already talks, is the only man in England to whom he could resign his pretensions.
He insists upon Sir Charles's dining with him tomorrow; Mr. Fenwick's also. Sir Charles is so desirous that the neighbourhood should conclude, that he and these gentlemen are on a foot of good understanding, that he made the less scruple, for every-one's sake, to accept of his invitation.
I am very, very thankful, my dearest Lady G. that the constant blusterings of this violent man, for so many months past, are so happily overblown.
Mr. Fenwick, as I guessed he would, made proposals to my aunt and me for my Lucy. Lucy has a fine fortune: But if she had not, he shall not have her! Indeed he is not worthy of Lucy's mind. He must be related to me, he said: But I answered, No man must call Lucy Selby his, who can have any other motive for his wishes but her merit.
We hourly expect your brother. The new danger he has been in, on my account, endears him still more to us all. How, how will you forbear, said my uncle, throwing yourself in his arms at once, when he demands the result of our deliberations? If I follow Mr. Deane's advice. I am to give him my hand at the first word: If Lucy's and Nancy's, he is not to ask me twice: If my grandmamma's and aunt's (They are always good) I am to act as occasion requires, and as my own confided-in prudence will suggest at the time; but to be sure not to be guilty of affectation. But still, my dear Ladies, something sticks with me (and ought it not?) in relation to the noble Clementina!
Volume VI - lettera 19
Volume VI - Letter 20
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Saturday Night, Oct. 14.
Now, my dear Ladies L. and G. let me lay before you, just as it happened, for your approbation, or censure, all that has passed between the best of men and your Harriet. Happy shall I be, If I can be acquitted by his sisters.
My grandmamma went home last night, but was here before Sir Charles; yet he came a little after Eleven. We were all in the great parlour when he came. He addressed us severally with his usual politeness, and my grandmother, particularly, with such an air of reverence, as did himself credit, because of her years and wisdom.
We all congratulated him on what we had heard from Mr. Fenwick.
Mr. Greville and I, said he, are on very good terms. When I have the presumption to think myself a welcome guest, I am to introduce him as my friend. Mr. Greville, tho' so long your neighbour, modestly doubts his own welcome.
Well he may, said my aunt Selby, after—No afters, dear madam, if you mean any-thing that has passed between him and me.
He again addressed himself to me. I rejoice, Sir, said I, that you have quieted so happily a spirit always thought uncontrollable.
You must tell me, madam, replied he, when I can be allowed to introduce Mr. Greville to you?
Shall I answer for my cousin? said Lucy—I did not, Sir Charles, think you such a designer.—You were not, you know, to introduce Mr. Greville, till you were assured of being yourself a very welcome guest to my cousin.
I own my plot, replied he: I had an intent to surprise Miss Byron into an implied favour to myself.
You need not, Sir Charles, thought I, take such a method.
On his taking very kind notice of my cousin James; Do you know, Sir Charles, said my uncle (whose joy, when it overflows, seldom suffers the dear man to consult seasonableness) that that boy is already in Love with your Emily?—The youth blushed—
I am obliged to every-body who loves my Emily. She is a favourite of Miss Byron—Must she not then be a good girl?
She is indeed a favourite, said I; and so great a one, that I know not who can deserve her.
I said this, lest Sir Charles should think (on a supposition that my uncle meant something) that my cousin had my countenance.
Sir Charles then addressed himself to my grandmamma and aunt, speaking low—I hope, Ladies, I may be allowed in your presence to resume the conversation of yesterday with Miss Byron?
No, Sir Charles, answered my grandmamma, affecting to look serious, that must not be.
Must not be, madam! and he seemed surprised, and affected too. My aunt was a little startled; but not so much as she would have been, had she not known the lively turns which that excellent parent sometimes gives to subjects of conversation.
Must not be, I repent, Sir Charles: But I will not suffer you to be long in suspense. We have always, when proposals of this kind have been made, referred ourselves to our Harriet. She has prudence: She has gratitude. We will leave her and you together, when she is inclined to hear you on the interesting subject. I know I am right. Harriet is above disguises. She will be obliged to speak for herself, when she has not either her aunt or me to refer to. She and you are not acquaintance of yesterday. You, Sir, I dare say, will not he displeased with the opportunity—
Neither Miss Byron nor I, madam, could wish for the absence of two such parental relations. But this reference I will presume to construe as a hopeful prognostic. May I now, through your mediation, madam (to my aunt) hope for the opportunity of addressing myself to Miss Byron?
My aunt, taking me to the window, told me what had passed. I was a little surprised at my grandmamma's reference to myself only. I expostulated with my aunt: It is plain, madam, that Sir Charles expected not this compliment.
Your grandmamma's motion surprised me a little my dear: It proceeded from the fulness of her joy: She meant a compliment to you both: There is now no receding. Let us withdraw together.
What, madam, at his proposal? As if expecting to be followed?—See how my uncle looks at me! Every one's eyes are upon me!—In the afternoon, if it must be—as by accident. But I had rather you and my grandmamma were to be present. I mean not to be guilty of affectation to him:. I know my own heart, and will not disguise it. I shall want to refer to you. I shall be silly: I dare not trust myself.
I wish the compliment had not been made, replied my aunt. But, my dear, come along with me.
She went out. I followed her; a little reluctantly, however; and Lucy tells me, that I looked so silly, as was enough, of itself to inform every-body of the intent of my withdrawing, and that I expected Sir Charles would follow me.
She was very cruel, I told her; and in my case would have looked as silly as I; while I should have pitied her.
I led to my closet. My aunt seating me there, was going from me. Well, madam, and so I am to stay here quietly, I suppose, till Sir Charles vouchsafes to come? Would Clementina have done so?
No hint to him of Clementina in this way, I charge you: It would look ungrateful, and girlish. I will introduce him to you—
And stay with me, I hope, madam, when he is introduced. I tell you, Lady G. all my foibles. Away went my aunt; but soon returned, and with her the man of men.
She but turned herself round, and saw him take my hand, which he did with a compliment that would have made me proud at another time, and left us together.
I was resolved then to assume all my courage, and, if possible, to be present to myself. He was to himself; yet had a modesty and politeness in his manner, which softened the dignity of his address.
Some men, I fancy, would have begun with admiring, or pretending to admire, the pieces of my own workmanship, which you have seen hang here: But not he. After another compliment made (as I presume, to re-assure me) on my restored complexion (I did indeed feel my face glow); he spoke directly to his subject.
I need not, I am sure, said he, repeat to my dear Miss Byron what I said yesterday, as to the delicacy of my situation, with regard to what some would deem a divided or double Love. I need not repeat to you the very great regard I have, and ever shall have, for the Lady abroad. Her merit, and your greatness of mind, render any apology for so just a regard needless. But it may be necessary to say, what I can with truth say, that I love not my own Soul better than I love Miss Byron. You see, madam, I am wholly free, with regard to that Lady—free by her own choice, by her own will.—You see, that the whole family build a part of their happiness on the success of my address to a Lady of my own country. Clementina's wish always was, that I would marry; and only be careful, that my choice should not disgrace the regard she vouchsafed to own for me. Clementina, when she has the pleasure of knowing the dear Lady before me, if that may be, by the name of Grandison, will confess, that my choice has done the highest credit to the favour she honoured me with.
And will you not, my dear Lady G. be ready to ask, Could Sir Charles Grandison be really in earnest in this humble court (as if he doubted her favour) to a creature, every wish of whose heart was devoted to him? Did he not rather for his own sake, in order to give her the consequence which a wife of his ought to have, resolve to dignify the poor girl, who had so long been mortified by cruel suspense, and who had so often despaired of ever being happy with the Lord of her heart? O no, my dear, your brother looked the humble, the modest Lover; yet the man of sense, of dignity, in Love. I could not but be assured of his affection, notwithstanding all that had passed. And what had passed, that he could possibly have helped?—His pleas of the day before, the contents of Signor Jeronymo's Letter, were all in my mind.
He seemed to expect my answer. He only, whose generously-doubting eye kept down mine, can tell how I looked, how I behaved—But hesitatingly, tremblingly, both voice, and knees, as I sat; thus brokenly, as near as I remember, I answered, not withdrawing my hand, tho', as I spoke, he more than once pressed it with his lips:—The honour of Sir Charles Grandison—Sir Charles Grandison's honour—no one ever did, or ever can, doubt.—I must own—I must confess—There I paused.
What does my dear Miss Byron own?—What confess?—Assure yourself, madam, of my honour, of my gratitude.—Should you have doubts, speak them. I desire your favour but as I clear up your doubts. I would speak them for you—I have spoken them for you. I own to you, madam, that there may be force in your doubts, which nothing but your generosity, and affiance in the honour of the man before you, can induce you to get over. And thus far I will own against myself, that were the Lady, in whose heart I should hope an interest, to have been circumstanced as I was, my own delicacy would have been hurt; owing, indeed, to the high notion I have of the true Female delicacy.—Now say, now own, now confess, my dear Miss Byron—what you were going to confess.
This, Sir, is my confession—and it is the confession of a heart which I hope is as sincere as your own—That I am dazzled, confounded, shall I say? at the superior merits of the Lady you so nobly, so like yourself, glory still in esteeming as she well deserves to be esteemed.
Joy seemed to flash from his eyes—He bowed on my hand, and pressed it with his lips; but was either silent by choice, or could not speak.
I proceeded, tho' with a hesitating voice, a glowing cheek, and downcast eyes—I fear not, Sir, any more than she did, your honour, your Justice, no nor your indulgent tenderness—Your character, your principles, Sir, are full security to the woman who shall endeavour to deserve from you that indulgence—But so justly high do I think of Lady Clementina, and her conduct, that I fear—ah, Sir, I fear—that it is impossible—
I stopped—I am sure I was in earnest, and must look to be so, or my countenance and my heart were not allied.
What impossible!—What fears my dear Miss Byron is impossible?
Why (thus kindly urged, and by a man of unquestionable honour) shall I not speak all that is in my mind? The poor Harrier Byron fears, she justly fears, when she contemplates the magnanimity of that exalted Lady, that with all her care, with all her endeavours, she never shall be able to make the figure to HERSELF, which is necessary for her own tranquillity (however you might generously endeavour to assure her doubting mind). This, Sir, is my doubt—And—all my doubt.
Generous, kind, noble Miss Byron! in a rapturous accent—And is this all your doubt? Then must yet the man before you be a happy man; for he questions not, if life be lent him, to make you one of the happiest of women. Clementina has acted gloriously in preferring to all other considerations her Religion and her Country: I can allow this in her favour, against myself: And shall I not be doubly bound in gratitude to her sister-excellence, who, having not those trials, yet the most delicate of human minds, shows in my favour a frankness of heart which sets her above little forms and affectation, and at the same time a generosity with regard to the merits of another Lady which has few examples?
He then on one knee, taking my passive hand between both his, and kissing it, once, twice, thrice—Repeat, dear, and ever-dear, Miss Byron, that this is all your doubt [I bowed assentingly: I could not speak]—A happy, an easy task, is mine! Be assured, dearest madam, that I will disavow every action of my life, every thought of my heart, every word of my mouth, which tends not to dissipate that doubt.
I took out my handkerchief—
My dear Miss Byron, proceeded he, with an ardour that bespoke his heart, you are goodness itself. I approached you with diffidence, with more than diffidence, with apprehension, because of your known delicacy; which I was afraid, on this occasion, would descend into punctiliousness.—My blessings attend my future life, as my grateful heart shall acknowledge this goodness!—
Again he kissed my hand, rising with dignity. I could have received his vows on my knees; but I was motionless, yet I had joy to be enabled to give him joy.—Joy to your brother! to Sir Charles Grandison!
He saw me greatly affected, and indeed my emotion increased on reflection. He considerately said, I will leave you, my dear Miss Byron, to entitle myself to the congratulations of all our friends below. From this moment, after a thousand suspenses and strange events, which, unsought for, have chequered my past life, I date my happiness.
He most respectfully left me.
I was glad he did: Yet my eyes followed him. His very shadow was grateful to me, as he went downstairs. And there, it seems, he congratulated himself, and called for the congratulations of every one present, in so noble a manner, that every eye run over with joy.
Was I not right, said my grandmamma to my aunt (You half-blamed me, my dear) in leaving Sir Charles and my Harriet together? Harriet ever was above disguise Sir Charles might have guessed at her heart; but he would not have known it from her own lips, had she had you and me to refer to.
Whatever you do, madam, answered my aunt, must be right.
My aunt came up to me. She found me in a very thoughtful mood. I had sometimes been accusing myself of forwardness, and at others was acquitting myself or endeavouring to do so—yet mingling, tho' thus early, a hundred delightful circumstances with my accusations and acquittals, which were likely to bless my future lot. Such as, his relations and friends being mine, mine his; and I run them over all by name. But my Emily, my dear Emily! I considered as my ward, as well as his. In this way my aunt found me. She embraced me, applauded me, and cleared up all my self-doubtings, as to forwardness; and told me of their mutual congratulations below, and how happy I had made them all. What self-confidence did her approbation give me!—And as she assured me that my uncle would not railly, but extol me, I went down, with spirits much higher than I went up with.
Sir Charles and my grandmamma were talking together, sitting side by side, when I entered the room. All the company stood up at my entrance.—O my dear! what a Princess in every one's eye will the declared Love of such a man make me! How will all the consequence I had before, among my partial friends and favourers, be augmented!
My uncle said, sideling by me (kindly intending not to dash me) My sweet sparkler! [That was the name he used to call me, before Sir Charles Grandison taught me a lesson that made me thoughtful] You are now again my delight, and my joy. I thank you for not being—a fool—that's all. Egad, I was afraid of your Femality, when you came face to face.
Sir Charles came to me, and, with an air of the most respectful love, taking my hand, led me to a seat between himself and my grandmamma.
My ever-dear Harriet, said she, and condescended to lift up my hand to her lips, I will not abash you; but must just say, that you have acquitted yourself as I wished you to do. I knew I could trust to a heart that ever was above affectation or disguise.
Sir Charles Grandison, madam, said I, has the generosity to distinguish and encourage a doubting mind.
Infinitely obliging Miss Byron, replied he, pressing one hand between both his, as my grandmamma held the other, your condescension attracts both my Love and Reverence. Permit me to say, That had not Heaven given a Miss Byron for the object of my hope, I had hardly, after what had befallen me abroad, ever looked forward to a wedded Love.
One favour I have to beg of you, Sir, resumed my grandmamma: It is, that you will never use the word abroad or express persons by their countries; in fine, that you will never speak with reserve, when the admirable Clementina is in your thoughts. Mention her name with freedom, my dear Sir, to my child, to me, and to my daughter Selby—you may—We always loved and reverenced her: Still we do so. She has given an example to all her Sex, of a passion properly subdued—Of temporal considerations yielding to eternal!
Sir, said I, bowing as I sat, I join in this request.
His eyes glistened with grateful joy. He bowed low to each, but spoke not.
My aunt came to us, and sat down by Sir Charles, refusing his seat, because it was next me. Let me, said she, enjoy your conversation: I have heard part of your subject, and subscribe to it, with all my heart. Lady G. can testify for us all three, that we cannot be so mean, as to intend you a compliment, Sir, by what has been said.
Nor can I, madam, as to imagine it. You exalt yourselves even more than you do Clementina. I will let my Jeronymo know some of the particulars which have given joy to my heart. They will make him happy; and the excellent Clementina (I will not forbear her name) will rejoice in the happy prospects before me. She wanted but to be assured that the friend she so greatly honoured with her regard, was not likely (either in the qualities of the Lady's mind, or in her family-connections) to be a sufferer by her declining his address.
May nothing now happen, my dear Lady G. to overcloud—But I will not be apprehensive. I will thankfully enjoy the present moment, and leave the future to the All-wise Diposer of events. If Sir Charles Grandison be mine, and reward by his kindness my Love, what can befall me, that I ought not to bear with resignation?
But, my dear Ladies, let me here ask you a question, or two.
Tell me, Did I ever, as you remember, suffer by suspenses, by any-thing?—Was there ever really such a man as Sir Hargrave Pollexfen?—Did I not tell you my dreams, when I told you of what I believed I had undergone from his persecuting insults? It is well, for the sake of preserving to me the grace of humility, and for the sake of warning (for all my days preceding that insult had been happy) that I wrote down at the time an account of those sufferings, those sufferings, or I should have been apt to forget now, that I ever was unhappy.
And, pray, let me ask, Ladies, Can you guess what is become of my illness? I was very ill, you know, when you, Lady G. did us the honour of a visit; so ill, that I could not hide it from you, and my other dear friends, as fain I would have done. I did not think it was an illness of such a nature, as that its cure depended on an easy heart. I was so much convinced of the merits of Lady Clementina, and that no other woman in the world ought to be Lady Grandison, that I thought I had pretty tolerably quieted my heart in that expectation. I hope I brag not too soon. But, my dear, I now see! so easy, so light, so happy—that I hardly know what's the matter with me—But I hope nobody will find the malady I have lost. May no disappointed heart be invaded by it! Let it not travel to Italy! The dear Lady there has suffered enough from a worse malady! Nor, if it stay in the island, let it come near the sighing heart of my Emily! That dear girl shall be happy, if it be in my power to make her so. Pray, Ladies, tell her she shall.—No, but don't: I will tell her so myself by the next post. Nor let it, I pray God, attack Lady Anne S. or any of the half-score Ladies, of whom once I was so unwilling to hear.
Our discourse at table was on various subjects. My cousin James was again very inquisitive after the principal courts, and places of note, in Italy.
What pleasure do I hope one day to receive from the perusal (if I shall be favoured with it) of Sir Charles's LITERARY JOURNAL, mentioned to Dr. Bartlett, in some of his Letters from Italy: For it includes, I presume, a description of palaces, cities, cabinets of the curious, diversions, amusements, customs, of different nations. How attentive were we all, to the answers he made to my cousin James's questions! My memory serves but for a few generals; and those I will not trouble you with. Sir Charles told my cousin that if he were determined on an excursion abroad, he would furnish him with recommendatory Letters.
Mr. Greville and his insult were one of our subjects after dinner, when the servants were withdrawn. Lucy expressed her wonder, that he was so soon reconciled to Sir Charles, after the menaces he had for years past thrown out against any man who should be likely to succeed with me.
My uncle observed, that Mr. Greville had not for a long time had any hopes; that he always was apprehensive, that if Sir Charles Grandison were to make his addresses, he would succeed: That it had been his and Fenwick's custom, to endeavour to bluster away their competitors (Note: See Vol. 1, Letter 2). He possibly, my uncle added, might hope to intimidate Sir Charles; or at least, knowing his principles, might suppose he ran no risk in the attempt.
Mr. Deane said, Mr. Greville had told him, that the moment he knew Miss Byron had chosen her man, he would give up his pretensions; but that, as long as she remained single, he was determined to persecute her, as he himself called it. Perseverance he had known do every-thing, after an admired woman had run through her circle of humble servants, and perhaps found herself disappointed in her own choice; and for his part, but with her, he had no fondness for the married life; he cared not who knew it.
Sir Charles spoke of Mr. Greville with candour. He thought him a man of rough manners, but not ill-natured. He affected to be a joker, and often therefore might be taken for a worse man than he really was. He believed him to be careless of his reputation, and one who seemed to think there were wit and bravery in advancing free and uncommon things; and gloried in bold surprises. For my part, continued he, I should hardly have consented to cultivate his acquaintance, much less to dine with him to-morrow, but as he insisted upon it, as a token of my for giving in him a behaviour that was really what a gentleman should not have pardoned himself for. I considered him, proceed Sir Charles, as a neighbour to this family, with whom you had lived, and perhaps chose to live, upon good terms. Bad neighbours are nuisances, especially if they are people of fortune: It is in the power of such to be very troublesome in their own persons; and they will often let loose their servants to defy, provoke, insult, and do mischief to those they love not. Mr. Greville I thought, added he, deserved to be the more indulged, for the sake of his Love to Miss Byron. He is a proud man, and must be mortified enough in having it generally known that she had constantly rejected his suit.
Why that's true, said my uncle. Sir Charles, you consider every-body. But I hope all's over between you.
I have no doubt but it is, Mr. Selby. Mr. Greville's whole aim now, seems to be, to come off with as little abatement of his pride, as possible. He thinks, if he can pass to the world as one who having no hope himself, is desirous to pronounce the cause of his friend, as he will acknowledge me to be, it will give him consequence in the eye of the world, and be a gentle method of letting his pride down easy.
Very well, said my uncle; and a very good contrivance for a proud man, I think.
It is an expedient of his friend Fenwick, replied Sir Charles; and Mr. Greville is not a little fond of it. And what, Ladies and Gentlemen, will you say, if you should see me come to church to-morrow with him, sit with him in the same pew, and go with him to dinner in his coach? It is his request that I will. He thinks this will put an end to the whispers which have passed, in spite of all his precaution, of a rencounter between him and me: For he has given out, that he strained his wrist and arm by a fall from his horse. Tell me, dear Ladies, shall I, or shall I not, oblige him in this request? He is to be with me tonight, for an answer.
My grandmamma said, that Mr. Greville was always a very odd, a very particular man. She thought Sir Charles very kind to us in being so willing to conciliate with him. My uncle declared, that he was very desirous to live on good terms with all his neighbours, particularly with Mr. Greville, a part of whose estate being intermixed with his, it might be in his power to be vexations, at least to his tenants. Mr. Deane thought the compromise was a happy one; and he supposed entirely agreeable to Sir Charles's generous wishes to promote the good understanding of neighbours; and to the compassion it was in his nature to show, to an unsuccessful rival.
Sir Charles then turning to Lucy; May I, Miss Selby, said he, do you think, without being too deep a designer, ask leave of Miss Byron, on the presumption of her goodness to me, to bring Mr. Greville to drink tea with her to-morrow in the afternoon?
Your servant, Sir Charles, answered Lucy, smiling. But what say you, cousin Byron, to this question?
This house is not mine, replied I; but I dare say. I may be allowed the liberty, in the names of my uncle and aunt, to answer, that any person will be welcome to Selby-house, whom Sir Charles Grandison shall think proper to bring with him.
Mr. Greville, said Sir Charles, professes himself unable to see any of you (Miss Byron, in particular) without an introductor. He makes a high compliment to me, when he supposes me to be a proper one. If you give me leave, bowing to my uncle and aunt, I will answer him to his wishes; and hope, when he comes, every-thing will be passed by in silence that happened between him and me.
Two or three lively things passed between Lucy and Sir Charles, on his repetition of her word designer. She began with advantage, but did not hold it; yet he gave her consequence in the little debate, at his own expense.
My grandmamma will go to her own church; but will be here at dinner, and the rest of the day. I have a thousand things more to say, all agreeable; but it is now late, and a drowsy fit has come upon me. I will welcome it. Adieu, adieu, my dear Ladies! Felicitate, I am sure you will,
Your ever-obliged, ever-devoted,
Volume VI - lettera 20
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