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THE HISTORY OF
Volume VI - Letter 31
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO MISS BYRON.
London, Monday Night, Oct. 30.
Your humanity, my dear and ever-dear Miss Byron, was so much engaged by the melancholy Letter of Sir Hargrave to Dr. Bartlett, which I communicated to you; and by the distress of my Beauchamp, on the desperate state of his father's health; that I know you will be pleased to hear that I have been enabled to give some consolation to both.
Sir Harry, who is in town, wanted to open his mind to me with regard (to some affairs which made him extremely uneasy; and which, he said, he could not reveal to any-body else. He showed some reluctance to entrust the secrets to my bosom. There shall they ever rest. He has found himself easier since. He rejoiced to me on the good understanding subsisting, and likely to subsist, between his Lady and Son. He desired me to excuse him for joining me with them, without asking my leave, in the trusts created by his Will: And on this occasion, sending for his Lady, he put her hand in mine, and recommended her and her interests, as those of the most obliging of wives, to my care.
I found Sir Hargrave at his house in Cavendish-Square. He is excessively low-spirited. Dr. Bartlett visited him at Windsor, several times. The Doctor prevailed on him to retain a worthy clergyman, as his chaplain.
The poor man asked after you, madam. He had heard, he said, that I was soon likely to be the happiest of men: Was it so? He wept at my answer; lamented the wretched hand, as he called it, that he had made of it, blessed as he was with such prosperous circumstances, in the prime of youth; and wished he had his days to come over again, and his company to choose. Unhappy man! He was willing to remove from himself the load which lay upon him. No doubt but this was the recourse of his companions, likewise, in extremity. He blessed my dearest Miss Byron, when I told him, she pitied him. He called himself by harsh, and even shocking names, for having been capable of offending so much goodness.
What subjects are these, to entertain my Angel with!—But tho' we should not seek, yet we ought not perhaps to shun them, when they naturally, as I may say, offer themselves to our knowledge.
But another subject calls for the attention of my dearest, loveliest of women: A subject that will lay a still stronger claim to it than either of the solemn ones I have touched upon. I inclose the Letter which contains it. You will be so good as to read it in English to such of our friends as read not Italian.
This Letter was left to Mrs. Beaumont to dispatch to me; whence its unwished-for delay: For she detained it, to send with it an equally-obliging one of her own. The contents of this welcome Letter, my dearest Miss Byron, will render it unnecessary to wait for an answer to my last to Signor Jeronymo; in which I acquaint him with my actual address, and the hopes I presume to flatter myself with. I humbly hope you will think so.
I am not afraid that one of the most generous of women will be affected with the passage in which Signor Jeronymo expresses his pity for her, because of the affection, he says, I must ever retain for his noble sister. He says right. And it is my happiness, that you, the sister-excellence of the admirable Clementina, will allow me to glory in my gratitude to her. You will still more readily allow me so to do, when you have perused this Letter. Shall not the man who hopes to be qualified for the Supreme Love, of which the purest Earthly is but a type, and who aims at an universal benevolence, be able to admire, in the mind of Clementina, the same great qualities which shine out with such lustre in that of Miss Byron?
With what pride do I look forward to the visit that several of this noble family intend to make us, because of the unquestionable assurance that they will rejoice in my happiness, and admire the Angel who is allowed to take place in my affections, of the Angel who would not have scrupled to accept of my vows, had it not been, as she expresses herself, for the intervention of invincible obstacles!
Mrs. Beaumont, in her Letter, gives me the particulars of the conversation between her and Clementina, almost in the same words with those of Jeronymo, in the Letter inclosed. She makes no doubt that Lady Clementina will, in time, yield to the entreaties of her friends in favour of a man against whom, if she can be prevailed upon to forego her wishes to assume the veil, she can have no one objection. You will see madam, by the inclosed, what they hope for in Italy from us; what Clementina, what Jeronymo, what a whole excellent family, hope for. You know how ardently my own family wish you to accelerate the happy day: Yours refer themselves wholly to you—Pardon me, my dearest Miss Byron, I will tell you what are my hopes—They are, that, when I am permitted to return to Northamptonshire, the happy day shall not be postponed three.
And now, loveliest and dearest of women! allow me to expect the honour of a line, to let me know how much of the tedious month, from last Thursday you will be so good as to abate. Permit me to say, that I can have nothing that needs to detain me from the beloved of my heart, after Friday next.
If, madam, you insist upon the whole month, I beg to know, out of what part of our nuptial life, the LAST or the FIRST (happy, as I hope it will be) you would be willing to deduct the week, the fortnight, that will be carried into the blank space of courtship, by the delay? I hope, my dear Miss Byron, that I shall be able to tell you, years and years after we are ONE, that there is not an hour of those past, or of those to come, that I would abate, or wish to throw into that blank. Permit me so to call it. The days of courtship cannot be our happiest. Who celebrates the day of their first acquaintance, tho' it may be remembered with pleasure?—Do not the happy pair date their happiness from the day of marriage? How justly then when hearts are assured, when minds cannot alter, are those which precede it, to be deemed a blank!
After all, your cheerful compliance with my wishes, is the great desirable. Whatever shall be your pleasure, must determine me. My utmost gratitude will be engaged by the condescension, whenever you shall distinguish the day of the year, distinguished as it will be to the end of my life, that shall give me the greatest blessing of it, and confirm me
For ever Yours.
LA STORIA DI
Volume VI - lettera 31
Volume VI - Letter 32
SIGNOR JERONIMO DELLA PORRETTA TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
[Inclosed in the preceding.]
Bologna, Oct. 18. N. S.
I gave you, my dear Grandison, in mine of the 5th, the copy of a paper written by my sister, which filled us with hopes of her compliance with the wishes of all her family. She took time for deliberation; time was given her; but still she insisted on receiving your next Letters before she came to any resolution. Mrs. Beaumont herself was of opinion, that the dear creature only meditated delay: That also was ours. What, invincibly determined, as she is, to adhere to the resolution she has so greatly taken, can she hope for, (said we among ourselves) from the expected Letters? For she had declared herself to be so determined, to my brother Giacomo, who actually assured her of all our consents to an alliance with you, if she repented of that resolution.
All this time we offered not to introduce, nor even to name, to her, the Count of Belvedere. Awed by her former calamity, and by an excursiveness of imagination, which at times showed itself in her words and behaviour, we avoided saying or doing any-thing that was likely to disturb her. Giacomo himself, tho' he wanted to return to Naples, had patience with her pretty trifling, beyond our expectation. At last arrived yours of the 29th of September; kindly inclosing a copy of yours to her, of the same date. We question not but your reply to mine of the 5th current, is on the road; not that the contents will be such as we may hope for, from considerations of our happiness and your own: But these, we thought, without waiting for that, would answer the desired end. I will tell you what was said by every one, on the perusal of both.
Is this the man, said the General, whom I sometimes so rudely treated? I rejoice that we were reconciled before he left us. I had formed a notion to his disadvantage; that he was capable of art, and hoped to keep his hold in my sister's affections, in view of some turn in his favour: But he is the most single-hearted of men. These two Letters will strengthen our arguments. Clementina, who has more than once declared that she wishes him married to an English woman, cannot now, that she will see there is a woman with whom he thinks he can be happy, wish to stand in his way. These will furnish us with means to attack her in her strongest hold; in her generosity, her delicacy; and will bring to the test her veracity. The contents of these Letters will confirm her before half-taken resolution, as in her paper, to oblige us. Let Laurana, as the Chevalier says, go into a nunnery: Clementina will marry, or she is a false girl; and the Sforza woman will be disappointed.
My mother applauded you, and rejoiced to hear that there is a woman of your own nation who is capable of making you more happy than her daughter could.
What difficulties, said the young Marchioness, (ever your friend) must a situation so critical have laid him under! A man so humane! And what further difficulties must he have to surmount, in offering to a woman, whom even Olivia, as he says, admires, a hand that has been refused by another? May this admired woman be propitious to his suit!
She must, she must, said the Bishop. If she has a heart disengaged, she cannot refuse a man so accomplished. Jeronymo, hasten to be well. If she favour him, we will all go over, and congratulate them both.
I, for my part, said I, would give up years of life to see my friend as happy in marriage as he deserves to be.
We must tell Clementina, said my father, as our Giacomo has hinted, that it will not become her generosity to stand in the way of the Chevalier's happiness.
We sent up your Letter to our sister, by Camilla. She was busy (Mrs. Beaumont sitting by her at work) in correcting the proportion which once you found fault with, in a figure in her piece of Noah's Ark, and the rising Deluge. A Letter, madam, from the Chevalier—To me! said she; and overturned the table on which her materials lay, in haste to take it.
When we thought she had had time to consider of the contents, we sent up to request the favour of speaking with Mrs. Beaumont. We owned to her, that we had a copy of your Letter to Clementina; and asked, What the dear creature said to the contents of it?
She read it, answered Mrs. Beaumont, in her own closet. I thought she was too long by herself. I went to her. She was in tears. O Mrs. Beaumont! as soon as she saw me, holding out the Letter—See here!—The Chevalier is against me!—Cruel, I could almost say, cruel Grandison!—He turns my own words upon me. I have furnished him with arguments against myself—What shall I do?—I have for many days past repented that I gave, under my hand, reason to my friends to expect my compliance. I cannot, cannot, confirm the hopes I gave!—What shall I do?
I took it, read it, continued Mrs. Beaumont, and told her, that the Chevalier's arguments were unanswerable. I dwelt upon some of them. She wept, and was silent.
We then, my dear Grandison, showed Mrs. Beaumont your Letter to me. She read it—How, said she, has this excellent young man been embarrassed! I know, from some of my countrymen, the character of the Lady whom he mentions: She is an excellent woman!—May I take up this Letter, and read it to Lady Clementina?
By all means, answered the General; and support, dear madam, the contents of both with your weight. It will be from perverseness now, if she withstand us. Bid her remember, that she has had once at her feet a kneeling father! Bid her remember the written hopes she has given us!
Mrs. Beaumont went up with it. I will give you an account of what my sister said as she read it. O Grandison! read it but cursorily: You will more and more admire and love the Clementina, who, before her malady, was always considered as one of the first of women; and the glory of our house!
She desired to have it in her own hands: Mrs. Beaumont, to whose pen we owe the account, looked over her, and followed her eye, as she read (Note: See Letter 5, this volume).
'And did he still, said she, after he had got to England, hope for a change in my resolution?'—Heaven knows—She stopped; sighed, and read on.
'He foresaw that my friends would press me to marry!'—I foresaw it too!—I have indeed been pressed; vehemently pressed!
'Rather than any other'—Ah, Chevalier!—Why, why, were the obstacles Religion and Country! None less should have—She stopped—Then, reading to herself, proceeded:
'It was not presumptuous to hope'—No, Grandison; presumptuous it could not be.
'It was justice to Clementina, to attend the event, and to wait for the promised Letter.' Kind, considerate Grandison!—You were all patience, all goodness!—O that—There she stopped. Then proceeding:
'Fourth brother! Nor interested in the event.'—Indeed I did write so—
'Give up all his hopes!'—Dear Grandison!
'It could not be expected that he should give the argument all its weight.'—He has given it too much!
'Duty to yield to the entreaties of all my friends;' Ah, Grandison!
'Difficult situations!'—Difficult indeed! And here am I, who have more than any other in the world, enhanced his difficulties!—Unhappy Clementina!—Then reading on—
Good God! Mrs. Beaumont! 'There is an English Lady, with whom he was actually—Does he not hint in Love?'—Nay, then—Take it, take it, Mrs. Beaumont!—I can read no further—Compassion only, I suppose, brought him over to me!—I cannot bear that!—Yet snatching it from her, and reading.
'Beauty her least perfection'—[Happy English Lady!] 'Either in my eyes, or her own!'—Have I not wished him such a woman?— 'Had I never known Clementina!'—How could I be so captious!
'Loves her with a flame as pure as the heart of Clementina'—Thank you, Chevalier! Indeed I have no impurity in my Love—My God only have I preferred to you: And I bless God for enabling me to give so due a preference!—'or, as her own heart can boast.'—Just such a wife did I wish him; and shall I not rejoice, if such a one will hold out her hand to make him happy?
She sighed often, as she read on; but spoke not, till she came to the words, 'That she was to you, what you might truly call, a first Love;' A first Love, repeated she: He was indeed mine! Permit me to say, my dear friends, a first and only one.
'It became him, he says, in honour, in gratitude, tho' the difficulties in his way seemed insuperable (And so they must seem) to hold himself in suspense, and not offer to make his addresses to any other woman.'—Generous, noble Grandison!—He did love me—Discouraged as he was; nay, insulted by some of us [Giacomo hears me not, looking round her]; He, the generous Grandison, did love me. She wiped her eyes.
Recovering herself, and reading on—See here, Mrs. Beaumont—'He thought himself obliged, in honour to me, and to the persons themselves, to decline proposals of advantage.' Surely he must think me an ungrateful creature.
But (reading on) did he 'balance in his mind between this Lady and me?'—He did. But it was because of his uncertainty with me.
Reading to herself, to the words, 'Almost an equal interest,' How is that, said she, repeating them?—O, it is explained—'But when his dear Clementina' [Do I go too fast for your eye, Mrs. Beaumont?] 'began to show signs of recovery,' [She sighed] 'and seemed to confirm the hopes I had given him of my partiality for him,' [Modest, good man!] 'then did I content myself,' says he [Look, Mrs. Beaumont] 'with wishing another husband to the English Lady, more worthy of her than my unhappy situation could have made me.'—Excellent English Lady! If it were in my power, I would make you amends for having shared a heart with you (so it seems) that ought, my circumstances and your merit considered, to have been all your own!
'What a disappointment was my rejection of him?'—See, these are his words.—And these too; that 'he admires me, however, for my motives.'
'Marriage, he says, is not in his power; for there is but one woman in the world, now I have refused him, that, he can think worthy of succeeding me.—What honour he does me. Thank God she is an English woman! O that I had any influence over her! Sweet Lady! amiable Englishwoman, let not punctilio deprive you of such a man as this!—Show her this Letter, my good Grandison! Let me transcribe from it, rather, for your perusal, happy English Lady! certain passages in it, so delicate, so worthy of himself, and of you.
'Thousands, of whom he is not worthy,' he says. How, how can he say so?
'She has for an admirer every one who knows her.'—She shall have me for an admirer, Mrs. Beaumont, if she will accept of my fourth brother. She will accept of him, if she deserves the character he gives her: Let me tell you, Lady, that your heart is narrower than that of Clementina, if you think it a diminution to your honour, that he has loved that Clementina. Why cannot you and I be sisters? My love shall be but a sisterly love. You may depend upon the honour of the Chevalier Grandison. He will do his duty in every relation of life! What can be your doubts?
'Even Olivia, he says, admires you!'—And will such a woman stand upon punctilious observances, like women of ordinary consequence, having to deal with common men?—O that I knew this Lady! I would convince her, that he 'can do justice to her greater, and to my lesser merits; and yet not appear to be divided by a double Love; altho' he should own to all the world, as he says he will,' [See, see, Mrs. Beaumont, these are his very words] 'his affection for Clementina, and glory in it!'
O Mrs. Beaumont! how my Soul, putting her hand to her forehead, then to her heart, loves his Soul! nor but for one obstacle, that would have shaken my Faith, and endangered my Salvation (had I got over it) should his Soul only have been the object of my Love.
Let me but continue single, my dear friends; indulge me in the wish that has been so long next my heart; and take not advantage of the hopes I have given you in writing; and I shall pass happily through this short life; a life that deserves not the bustle which we make about it. Ask me not either to 'set or follow the example you propose to me:' I cannot, cannot, do either. Unkind Chevalier, why, why, would you strengthen their hands, and weaken mine?—Yet, if it became your justice, what had I but justice to expect from a just man; who has so eminently performed all his own duties, and particularly the filial; which he here calls an article of Religion?
When she came to the concluding part of this Letter, and your wishes for her perfect recovery, health and welfare, and for the happiness of us all; May every blessing, said she, he wishes us, be his!
Then folding up the Letter, and putting it in her bosom; This Letter, and that which accompanied it, (meaning yours to her) I must read over and over!
Shall I say, my Grandison, that I half-pity the lovely Harriet Byron, tho' her name should be changed to yours? You must love Clementina: Were a sovereign Princess her rival, you must. Clementina! who so generously can give up a Love as fervent as ever glowed in a virgin heart, on superior motives; motives which regard Eternity; and receive joy in the prospect of your happiness with another woman, on a persuasion that that woman can make you happier than she herself could, because of a difference in Religion.
My sister choosing to retire to her closet, to re-peruse the two Letters, Mrs. Beaumont, knowing our curiosity, put down what had passed; intending, as she said, to write a copy of it for you.
How were we all, on perusing it, charmed with our Clementina!—I insisted, that nothing, at present, should be said to her of the Count of Belvedere, and of our wishes in his favour. My father gave into my opinion. He said, he thought the properest time to mention the Count to her was, when we had an answer to the Letter I wrote to you on the 5th current, if that could give us assurances that you had made your addresses to the charming Byron, and were encouraged. The General was impatient; but he acquiesced, on finding every one come into my motion; but said, that if all this lenity did not do, he must beg leave to have his own measures pursued.
Some little particularity has appeared in the dear creature since I have written the above. She has been exceedingly earnest with her mother, to use her interest with my father, and us, to be allowed to go to England: But desires not the permission till you are actually married. She pleads my health, because of the salutary springs you mention to me.
Several other pleas she offered; but, to say truth, they carried with them such an air of flightiness, that I am loth to mention them: Yet all of them were innocent, all of them were even laudable. But (shall I say?) that some of them appeared too romantic for a settled brain to be so earnest, as she was, in having them carried into execution.
We have no doubt, but all her view is, to avoid marriage, by such a strange excursion. Dear creature, said the Bishop, speaking of her just now, the veil denied her, she must have some point to carry: I wish we saw less rapidity in her manner.
I, Grandison, for my part, remember how much she and we all suffered by denying her the farewell-visit from you, on your taking leave of Italy the time before the last.
But we think an expedient has offered, that will divert her from this wildness, as I must call it: Mrs. Beaumont has requested, that she may be allowed to take her with her to Florence for some weeks. Clementina is pleased with our readiness to oblige them both; and they will soon go.
But all this time she is uniform and steady in her wishes for your marriage. She delights to hear Mrs. Beaumont talk of the perfections of the Lady to whom we are all desirous of hearing you are united. You had written, it seems, to Mrs. Beaumont, a character given of this young Lady by Olivia, upon a personal knowledge of her. Mrs. Beaumont showed it to Clementina.
How generously did the dear creature rejoice in it! Just such a woman, said she, did I wish for the Chevalier. Olivia has shown greatness of mind in this instance. Perhaps I have thought too hardly of Olivia. Little did I think, I should ever have requested a copy of any-thing written by Olivia. Ill-will disables us from seeing those beauties in the person who is the object of it, which would otherwise strike us to her advantage. You must oblige me, added she, with a copy of this Extract.
Oct. 20. N. S.
You will be pleased, I know, my Grandison, with every particular that shall tend to demonstrate the pleasure the dear Clementina takes in hoping you will be soon the happy man we all wish you to be.
This morning she came down with her work into my chamber. I invite myself, Jeronymo, said she. I will sit down by you, till you are disposed to rise. She then, of her own motion, began to talk of you; and I, putting it to her (as her mother did yesterday) whether she would be really glad to hear of your nuptials, received the same answer she then made; She sincerely should: She hoped the next Letters would bring an account that it was so. But then, Jeronymo, continued she, I shall be teased, persecuted. Let me not, my brother, be persecuted. I don't know, whether downright compulsion is not more tolerable than over-earnest entreaty. A child, in the first instance, may contract herself, as I may say, within her own compass; may be hardened: But the entreaty of such friends as undoubtedly mean one's good, dilates and disarms one's heart, and makes one wish to oblige them; and so renders one miserable, whether we do or do not comply. Believe me, Jeronymo, there is great cruelty in persuasion, and still more to a soft and gentle temper, than to a stubborn one: Persuaders know not what they make such a person suffer.
My dearest Clementina, said I, you have shown so glorious a magnanimity, that it would be injuring you, to suppose you are not equal to every branch of duty. God forbid that you should be called to sustain an unreasonable trial—In a reasonable one, you must be victorious.
Ah Jeronymo! How little do I deserve this fine compliment!—Magnanimity, my brother!—You know not what I yet, at times, suffer!—And have you not seen my reason vanquished in the unequal conflict? She wept. But let the Chevalier be married, and to the Angel that is talked of; and let me comfort myself, that he is not a sufferer by my withholding my hand—And then let me be indulged in the single life, in a place consecrated to retirement from this vain world; and we shall both be happy!
Mrs. Beaumont came to seek her. I prevailed on her to sit down, and on my sister to stay a little longer. I extolled my sister to her: She joined in the just praise. But one act of magnanimity, said Mrs. Beaumont, seems wanting to complete the greatness of your character, my Love, in this particular case of the expected marriage of the Chevalier Grandison.
What is that, Mrs. Beaumont?—All attention.
You see his doubts, his apprehensions, of appearing worthy of the Lady so highly spoken of, because of that delicacy of situation (which, as you observe, Olivia also hints at) from what may be called a divided Love: Miss Byron may very well imagine, as his Love of you commenced before he knew her, that she may injure you if she receive his addresses: You had the generosity to wish, when you were reading those his apprehensions, that you knew the Lady, and were able to influence her in his favour.
Well, Mrs. Beaumont—
Can I doubt that Lady Clementina is able to set her name to the noble sentiments, that so lately, on reading his Letter, flowed from her lips?
What would Mrs. Beaumont have me do?
Let me lead you to your own closet. Pen, ink, and paper, are always before you there. Assume your whole noble Self, and we shall see what that assumption will produce.
All that is in my power, to do, replied she, for promoting the happiness of a man who has suffered so much through my means, it is my duty to do.
She gave her hand to Mrs. Beaumont; who led her to her closet, and left her there. The following is the result. Generous, noble creature!—But does it not show a raised imagination? especially in the disposition of the lines?
Best of Men! Best of Women — Be ye ONE.
CLEMENTINA wishes it!
GRANDISON, Lady, will make you happy.
Be it your study to make Him so!—
Happy, as CLEMENTINA would have made him,
Had not obstacles invincible intervened.
This will lessen her regrets:
His Felicity, Temporal and Eternal,
Was ever the wish next her heart.
GOD be merciful to you both,
And lead you into his paths:
Then will everlasting Happiness be your portion.
Be it the portion of CLEMENTINA!—
Pray for Her!—
That, after this transitory life is over,
She may partake of Heavenly Bliss:
(Not a stranger to you, Lady, HERE)
Rejoice with you both HEREAFTER!
CLEMENTINA della PORRETTA.
The admirable creature gave this to Mrs. Beaumont: Send this, madam, said she, if you think proper, to your friend and my friend, the Chevalier Grandison. Tell him, that I shall think myself very happy, if it may serve as a testimonial, to the Lady whose merits entitle her to his Love, of my sincere wishes for their mutual happiness: Tell him, that at present I wish for nothing more ardently, than to hear of his Nuptials being celebrated.
Dear Grandison! let your next give us an opportunity to felicitate you on this desirable event. In this wish joins every one of a family to whom you are, and ever will be dear. Witness, for them all,
The Marquis and Marchioness della PORRETTA.
Volume VI - lettera 32
Volume VI - Letter 33
MISS BYRON TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Wednesday, Nov. 1.
How, Sir, have the contents of your friend Jeronymo's Letter affected me!—I am more and more convinced, that, however distinguished my lot may be, Clementina only can deserve you. What a vain creature must I be, if I did not think so! And what a disingenuous one, so thinking, if I did not acknowledge it!
I cannot, Sir, misconstrue your delicate sensibilities. My own teach me to allow for yours.
'Best of men,' I can, I do, with Clementina, think you: But Harriet's ambition will be gratified, in being accounted second to HER.
And does Clementina 'wish us ONE!' —Most noble, most generous of women!
'Grandison, you say, will make me happy.'
But ah, my lovely pattern! can Harriet he happy, even with her Grandison, if you are not so?
Believe me, LADY! your happiness will be essential to hers.
God give YOU happiness! Harriet prays for it!
My next-to Divine Monitress, it shall be my study to make Him happy!
But, most excellent of women, have you regrets? Regrets, which can only be lessened by the joy you will have in his happiness!—And with another!
Why, why, when he would allow to you the exercise of your Religion, and only insists on the like liberty, are the obstacles you hint at invincible!
O Sir! I can pursue this subject no further. Thus far an irresistible impulse carried me.
How should I be able to stand before this Lady, were the visit she was so earnest to be allowed to make to England to take place; yet in such a case, with what pleasure should I pay my reverence to her mind in her person!
And does SHE, do her family, do YOU, Sir, wish us speedily ONE?—Are you not satisfied with the given month?—Is not a month, Sir, your declaration so lately made, a short term? (And let me ask you but within parentheses, Do you not, on an occasion so very delicate, in your limited three days after your return to us, treat the not-insensible Harriet a little more—Help me, Sir, to a word—than might have been expected from a man so very polite?)—And can you so generously, yet so seriously, ask me, From which parts of the Nuptial Life, the LAST (What a dreadful idea do you raise in that solemn word!) or the FIRST, I would deduct the week's or fortnight's supposed delay?—O Sir! what a way of putting it is this!—Thus I answer— 'From neither!' My honour is your honour. Determine YOU, most generous of men, for
Your HARRIE BYRON.
Volume VI - lettera 33
Volume VI - Letter 34
MISS JERVOIS TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Tuesday, Oct. 31.
You will think your ward very bold to address you by Letter; especially as she is a very poor inditer, and as you are in town: But her heart is in trouble, and she must write; and must beg the favour of you, the most indulgent guardian that ever poor Orphan had, to answer her by pen and ink. For whether you can forgive her or not, she will be equally incapable of bearing your goodness, or your displeasure. How weakly I express myself! I find I shall write worse to you, than to any-body else. And why? Because I wish to write best. But I have great awe, and no genius. I am a poor girl in every sense, as you shall hear by-and-by. I hope you won't be very angry with me. If you are, I shall be worse than poor—I shall be miserable.
But to come before my guardian as a delinquent, when I have ambition enough to wish to shine in his eyes, if so it could have been!—It is a very great mortification indeed!—If you were to acquit me, I shall have had great punishment in that thought.
But to open my troubled heart to you—Yet how shall I; I thought to tell it you yesterday; but for my life I could not. Did you not observe me once, Sir, hanging upon the back of your chair, unable to stand in your sight? O how I felt my face glow!—Then it was I thought to have spoken my mind; but you were so kind, so good to me, I could not, might I have had the world. You took my hand—I shall be very bold to repeat it; but am always so proud of your kind notice, that I can't help it: And you said, drawing me gently to you, 'Why keeps my Emily behind me? What can I do for my Emily! Tell me, child; Is there any-thing I can do for my ward?' Yet, tho' the occasion was so fair, I could not tell you. But I shall tire you, before I came to the point (to the fault, I should say) that has emboldened me to write.
This then is the truth of the matter:
My poor mother, Sir, is very good now, you know. You have taken from her all her cares about this world: She and her husband live together happily and elegantly: They want for nothing; and are grown quite religious: So that they have leisure to think of their Souls good. They make me cry for joy, whenever I go to them. They pray for you, and heap blessings upon you; and cry to think they ever offended you.
But, Sir, I took it into my head, knowing it was a vast way for them to go from Soho to somewhere in Moorfields to hear the preacher they admire so much, and coach-hire, and charities, and contributions, of one kind or other (for their minister has no establishment) and old debts paying off, that at present, tho' I believe they are frugal enough, they can't be much aforehand—So, thought I, shall I ride in my guardian's coach, at one time, in Lady G's at another, in Lady L's at another, tho' so much better able to walk than my poor mother; while she is growing into years, and when infirmities are coming on; and my guardian's example before me, so opening to one's heart?—I ventured, therefore, unknown to my mother and her husband, unknown to any-body, by way of surprise, to bespeak a plain neat chariot, and agreed for a coachman, and a pair of horses; for I had about 130 guineas by me when I bespoke it. Out of this, thought I (which is my own money, without account) I shall be able to spare enough for the first half-year's expenses; after which, they will be in circumstances to keep it on: And as quarters come round, thought I, I will stint myself, and throw in something towards it; and then my poor mother and her husband can go to serve God, and take sometimes an airing, or so, where they please; and make an appearance in the world, as the mother of the girl who is entitled to so large a fortune. And I don't grudge Mr. O’Hara; for he is vastly tender of my mother now: Which must be a great comfort to her, you know, Sir, now she is come to be sorry for past things, and apt to be very spiritless, when she looks back—Poor dear woman!
But here, Sir, was the thing: Believing it became me, as Lady L. Lady G. and Mrs. Eleanor Grandison, intended to show their respect to you, on a certain happy occasion, by new clothes, to show mine the same way; I went to the mercer's, and was so tempted by two patterns, that, not knowing which to choose, I bought of both; not thinking, at the time, of the bespoken chariot. To be sure I ought to have consulted Lady L. or Lady G.; but, foolish creature as I was, I must be for surprising them too, with my fine fancy.
Then I laid out a good deal more than I intended, in millinery matters: Not but I had my pennyworths for my penny: But the milliners are so very obliging; they show one this pretty thing, and that fashionable one; and are so apt to praise one's taste; and one is so willing to believe them, and to be thought mighty clever; that there is no resisting the vanity they raise. I own all my folly: I ever will, Sir, when I am guilty of any greater silliness than ordinary; for I have no bad heart, I hope, tho' I am one of the flowers I once heard you compare some of us to, who are late before they blow into discretion.
But now, good Sir, came on my distress: For the bespoken chariot was ready; ready sooner by a fortnight, than I expected. I thought my quarter would be nearer ended; and I had made a vast hole in my money. I pulled up a courage; I had need of it; and borrowed fifty guineas of Lady G.; but, from this foolish love of surprises, cared not to tell her for what. And having occasion to pay two or three bills (I was a thoughtless creature, to be sure) which unluckily, tho' I had asked for them before, were brought in just then, I borrowed another sum, but yet told not Lady G. for what; and the dear Lady, I believe, thought me an extravagant girl; I saw she did, by her looks.
But, however, I caused the new chariot to be brought privately to me. I went in it, and it carried me to Soho; and there, on my knees, made my present to my mother.
But do you think, Sir, that she and Mr. O’Hara, when I confessed that I had not consulted you upon it, and that neither Lady L. nor Lady G. nor yet Mrs. Eleanor Grandison, knew a syllable of the matter, would accept of it? They would not: But yet they both cried over me for joy, and blessed me.
It is put up somewhere—And there it lies, till I have obtained your pardon first, and your direction afterwards. And what shall I do, if you are angry at your poor ward, who has done so inconsiderate a thing, and run herself into debt?
Chide me, honoured Sir, if you please. Indeed you never yet did chide me. But yours will be chidings of Love; of paternal Love, Sir.
But if you are angry with me more than a day; if you give me reason to believe you think meanly of me, tho', alas! I may deserve it; and that this rashness is but a prelude to other rash or conceited steps (for that is the fear which most terrifies me) and is therefore to be resented with severity; then will I fly to my dear Miss Byron, that now is!—And if she cannot soften your displeasure, and restore me to your good opinion—(Mere pardon will not be enough for your truly-penitent ward) then will I say, Burst, heart! Ungrateful, inconsiderate Emily! Thou hast offended thy Guardian! What is there left in this life, that is worth thy cares!
And now, Sir, I have laid my troubled heart open before you. I know you will not so much blame the thing, even should you not approve of it, as the manner; doing it (after you had been so extremely generous and inconsiderate to my mother) without consulting either you, or your sisters. O my vanity and conceit! They, they have misled me. They never shall again, whether you forgive me, or not.
But good, indulgent, honoured Sir, my Guardian, my Protector, let not my punishment be the reversing of the gracious grant which my heart has been so long wishing to obtain, and which you had consented to, of being allowed to live immediately in your own eye, and in the presence of my dear Miss Byron, that now is. This rash action should rather induce you to confirm, than reverse it. And I promise to be very good. I ever loved her. I shall add filial honour, as I may say, to my love of her. I never will do any-thing without consulting her; and but what you, the kindest Guardian that ever poor Orphan had, would wish me to do.
And now, Sir, honour me with a few lines from your own hand; were it but to show me that this impertinence has not so far tired you, as (should you think it just to banish me from your presence for some time) to make you discourage applications to you, by pen and ink, from, Sir,
Your truly sorrowful Ward, and ever-obliged and grateful
Volume VI - lettera 34
Volume VI - Letter 35
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO MISS JERVOIS.
Wedn. Nov. 1.
I write to the dear child of my tenderest cares, because she requests me to write: Else, I had hastened to her in person, to comfort her doubting heart; and to assure her, that nothing but a fault premeditated, and persisted in, that might have affected her present or future reputation, and consequently her happiness, could make me, for half an hour, offended with her. Your good intentions, my dear child, will ever be your security with me. Men, as well as women, are often misled by their love of surprises: But the greatest surprise my Emily could give me, would be, if she could do any one thing that would show a faulty heart.
Once more, my dear, pay your duty to your mother in the chariot which has been the causeless occasion of so much concern to you; and tell her, and Mr. O’Hara, that they have greatly obliged me in declining the acceptance of the chariot, so dutifully presented, till they knew my mind: But that, not so much in the compliment paid to me, as your guardian, as because it has given me an opinion of their own generosity and discretion. Tell them, that I greatly approve of this instance of your duty to your mother, and of your regard, for her sake, to Mr. O’Hara: Tell them, that I join with my ever-amiable ward in requesting their acceptance of it; and do you, my dear, tell Miss Jervois, that I greatly honour her for this new instance of her goodness of heart.
I inclose a note, and will, to make you easy, carry it to its proper account, that will enable you to pay the debt which you with so dutiful an intention have contracted.—Forgive you, my dear! I love, I admire, you for it. I will not have you stint yourself, as you call it, in order to contribute to the future expense of the chariot. The present is but a handsome one, respecting your fortune. Be therefore, for your mother's life, the whole expense yours; and it may possibly contribute not a little to the ease of mind of both (as they now live together not unhappily) if you have the goodness to assure Mr. O’Hara, that you are so well satisfied with his kind treatment of your mother, that you will, on supposition of the continuance of it, before you enter into engagements which may limit your own power, or make your will dependent on that of another person, secure a handsome provision for him, for his life, in case he survive your mother.
I thank you, my dearest ward, for the affection you express for my beloved Miss Byron. She loves you so tenderly, that it would have been a concern to me, had she not engaged your love and confidence. You highly oblige me by promising to consult her on all material occasions. The benefit you will receive from her prudent advice and example, and the delight she will receive from your company, will be a happiness to all three. My Emily may depend upon everything to make it completely so, that shall be in the power of
Her faithful Friend, and humble Servant,
Volume VI - lettera 35
Volume VI - Letter 36
MISS JERVOIS TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Thursday, Nov. 2.
A few lines, Sir; a very few—Not to show my vanity, my pride, in being allowed to write to my Guardian; nor to presume to draw him into an intercourse of Letters. No, Sir, I write only to thank you, which I do a thousand thousand times, for the ease, the joy, you have given to my heart. O how I dreaded to open your Letter! But I could not have expected it to be so very indulgent to a faulty girl. Not one rebuke! O Sir! how very good you are! And to send me the money to clear my debts! To bid me make my present! In so gracious a manner to bid me! And to put me upon promising a provision for life for Mr. O’Hara, if he survive my mother; which will not oblige them to live a narrower life while they are together, in order to save, in view of such an unhappy event—I flew to them, with the good news—I read the whole Letter to them. O how their hearts blessed you at their eyes, for they could not presently speak; and how my tears mingled with theirs! O Sir, you made us all infants!—I, for my part, am still a baby!—Did I ever cry so much for grief, as you have made me cry for joy?—It is well something now-and-then comes to check one's joy; there would be no bearing it, else. But I shall encroach on your precious time. Thank you, thank you, Sir, a hundred thousand times. My mother is happy! Mr. O’Hara is happy! My Miss Byron will soon be the happiest of all human beings, thank God!—You, my Guardian, must be one of the happiest of men! May every-body else be happy that you wish to be so! And then how happy will be, good Sir,
Your dutiful Ward, and obliged Servant,
They say you set out for Northamptonshire next Monday or Tuesday, at furthest. Lord bless me!—Lord bless you! I would say—And bless everybody you love!—Amen!—for ever and ever!
Volume VI - lettera 36
Volume VI - Letter 37
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Thursday, Nov. 2.
I have laid before you, my dear Lady G. your brother's and Signor Jeronymo's Letters; as also my answer to your brother's: My spirits never were so unequal. All joy at one time; apprehension at another; that something will still happen.—Greville is reported to be so gloomy! so silent! He hates me, he says.—And here, unexpectedly, is poor Mr. Orme returned. Amended in his health a little, those who have seen him say, and he thinks so—I am glad of it. And here are we sitting in judgment, my aunt Lady-president, on the patterns you have sent: My uncle too will have his opinion be taken—And Mr. Deane, who threatened he would not come to Selby-house till the Settlements were to be signed, or read, I cannot tell what—will be here on Saturday.
Mr. Orme has desired leave to visit me to-morrow. My uncle so hurries my spirit; not with his raillery, as he used to do—but with his joy. He talks of nothing but the coming down of your brother, and the limited three days after; and numbers the days, nay, the hours, as they fly: For he supposes Sir Charles will be here on Monday, at furthest; and calls that a delay of particular grace and favour. For has he not said, says he, that nothing after Friday can, on his part, detain him from us?
But, Lady G. will he not write, before he comes, to my last? Say my uncle what he pleases, your brother can't be down before Saturday se'nnight, at soonest.
Your fancy and Lady L's determine us. My aunt has undertaken this province: She therefore will write to you what she thinks fit. Is there not too much glare in the flowered silver, as you describe it? Don't, my dear, let me be a bride in a masquerade habit. Humility becomes persons of some degree. We want not glare: We are known to be able to afford rich dresses; need them not, therefore to give us consequence: Simplicity only can be elegance. Let me not be gaudy: Let not fancy, or art, or study, be seen in my dresses. Something must be done, I grant, on our appearance; for an an appearance we must not dispense with here in the country, whatever you women of quality may do in town. But let me not, I beseech you, or as little as possible, be marked out for a lustre; and be so good as to throw in a hint to this purpose to the dear busy girls here, as from yourselves; for they are exercising their fancies, as if I were to be a Queen of the May. Your authorities will support me, if they give me cause to differ in opinion from them.
Miss Orme has just been with me. She confirms her brother's amendment. She is sorry that his impatience has brought him over, when the climate was so favourable to him. She says, I shall find him sincerely disposed to congratulate me on my happy prospect; of which she has given him ample particulars. He could not, she says, but express himself pleased, that neither Fenwick nor Greville, but that one of so superior a character, is to be the man.
What greater felicity can a young creature propose to herself, in the days of courtship, than to find every one in her family, and out of it, applauding her choice? Could I, a few weeks ago, have thought—But hushed be vanity! Pride, withdraw! Meek-eyed Humility, stand forth!—Am I indeed to be the happiest of women? Will nothing happen—O no, no! Heaven will protect your brother—Yet this Greville is a trouble to me. Not because of my horrid dream; I am not so superstitious as to let that disturb me: But from a hint he gave Miss Orme.
She met him this morning at a neighbouring Lady's. He thus accosted her: I understand, madam, that your brother is returned. He is a happy man. Just in time, to see Miss Byron, married. Fenwick, a dog! is gone to howl at Carlisle, on the occasion. Your brother and I have nothing to do but howl in recitative to each other, here.
My brother, Mr. Greville, said Miss Orme, I am sure, will behave like a man on the occasion: Nor can you have reason to howl, as you call it. Sir Charles Grandison is your particular friend, you know.
True, Miss Orme, affecting to laugh off this hit, I thought I could have braved it out; but now the matter comes near, it sticks here, just here pointing to his throat: I cannot get it through my gizzard. Plaguy hard of digestion! making faces, in his light way.
But will your brother, proceeded he, be contented to stay within the noise of the bells, which will, (in a few days perhaps) be set a ringing, for ten miles round? Sir Charles drives on at a d—nable rate, I hear. 'But he must let me die decently, I can tell him: We will not part for ever with the flower of our county, without conditions.' Shall you see the Siren, madam? If you do, tell her, that I have no chance for peace, but in hating her heartily. But (whispering Miss Orme) bid her NOT TO BE TOO SECURE.
I was strangely struck with these words; for my spirits were not high before. I repeated them; I dwelt upon them, and wept.—Fool that I was! But I soon recollected myself; and desired Miss Orme not to take notice of my tender folly.
I have had a visit from Mr. Orme. He has given me some pleasure. I added not to his melancholy. He asked me several interesting questions, which I would not have answered any other man, as I told him. I shall always value Mr. Orme. Your brother is the most generous of men: But were he not so very generous, he ought to allow for my civility to this worthy man; since I can applaud him with my whole heart, for loving the noble Clementina. What a narrow-hearted creature must I be, if I did not? But as a woman's honour is of a more delicate nature, I believe, than a man's with regard to personal love; so perhaps (if this be allowed me) a man may be as jealous of a woman's civility (in general cases, I mean) as a woman may be of a man's Love to another object. This may sound strange, at first hearing, Lady G. but I know what I mean. Nobody else does, Harriet, perhaps you will say. But they would, I reply, if I were to explain myself; which at present, if you apprehend me not, I have no inclination to do.
How did this worthy man praise Sir Charles Grandison! He must see that my pride, no, not pride, my gratitude, was raised by it, as well to the praiser as praised. He concluded with a blessing on us both, which he uttered in a different manner from what that Balaam-Greville uttered his: It was followed with tears, good man! and he left me almost unable to speak. How grateful in our ears are the praises bestowed on those whom we fondly love!
Lucy thinks I had best go to my grandmamma's before he comes down; and that he should visit me there from Selby-house. Neither my aunt nor I am of this opinion; but that he should himself go to Shirley-manor, and visit us from thence. For is not Selby-house my usual place of residence? My grandmamma will be delighted with his company, and conversation. But as he cannot think of coming down before the latter end of next week, at the soonest, it is time enough to consider of these things. Yet can a young creature, the awful solemnity so near, and with a man whom she prefers to all others, find room in her head for any other topic?
I have a Letter from my good Mrs. Reeves. She and my cousin are so full of this happy subject, that they invite themselves down to us; and hope we will excuse them for their earnestness on this occasion. They are prodigiously earnest. I wonder my cousin can think of leaving her little boy! My aunt says, there is no denying them. How so?—Surely one may excuse one's self to friends one so dearly loves! Your presence, my Charlotte, I own, would be a high satisfaction to me: Yet you would be a little unmanageable, I doubt. There can be no hope of Lady L's: But if there were, neither she, nor any-body else, could keep you orderly.—Poor dear Emily!—My aunt wishes, that we could have had her with us: But, for her own sake, it must not be. How often do I revolve that reflexion of your brother's; that, in our happiest prospects, the sighing heart will confess imperfection! But I will not add another word, after I have assured you, my dearest Ladies, that I am, and ever will be,
Your grateful and most affectionate humble Servant,
Volume VI - lettera 37
Volume VI - Letter 38
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO MISS BYRON.
Friday, Nov. 3.
Receive, dearest, loveliest, of women, the thanks of a most grateful heart, for your invaluable favour of Wednesday last. Does my Harriet (Already, methinks, I have sunk the name of Byron into that of Grandison), do Mrs. Shirley, Mrs. Selby, think, that I have treated one of the most delicate of Female minds indelicately, in the wish (not the prescription) I have presumed to signify to the beloved of my heart; that within three days after my permitted return to Northamptonshire, I may be allowed to receive, at the Altar, the greatest blessing of my life? I would not be thought ungenerous. I signified my wishes; but I told you, in the same Letter, that your cheerful compliance was to me the great desirable. In everything, from the date of the condescending Letter before me, to the last of my life, shall your wishes determine mine. I will have your whole heart in the grant of every request I make to you, or you shall have the cheerful acquiescence of mine with your will. Permit me to say, that the family punctilio was not out of my thoughts, when I expressed my own ardent wishes to you. Does not the world about you expect, on the return of the happy man, a speedy solemnisation? I imagined, that whether he be permitted to make the place of his abode Selby-house or Shirley-manor, you would not that the happy day should be long deferred, which should give him rank as one of the dear family.
Our Equipages, my dearest life, are all in great forwardness. In tenderness to you, I have forborne to consult you upon some parts of them, as my regard for your judgment would otherwise have obliged me to do. The Settlements are all ready. Our good Mr. Deane is ready to attend you with them. Allow me, then, to do myself the honour of presenting myself before you at Selby-house, on Tuesday next. I will leave it to you to distinguish the happiest day of my life, whether within the succeeding three, four, five, or even six, of my return.
If I have not your commands to the contrary, Tuesday morning then, if not Monday night, shall present to you the most ardent and sincere of men, pouring out on your hand his grateful vows for the invaluable favour of Wednesday's date, which I consider in the sacred light of a plighted Love; and, as such, have given it a place next my heart.
My most respectful compliments to all whom we both so justly hold dear, conclude me, dearest madam,
Your most grateful, obliged,
Volume VI - lettera 38
Volume VI - Letter 39
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Monday Morning, Nov. 6.
I send you, my dearest Lady G. a copy of your brother's Letter of Friday last; Lucy has transcribed it for you. Lucy is very obliging. She desires to be allowed to correspond with you; and makes a merit of these transcriptions for an introduction: That is her view. I give you fair notice of it, that you may either check or encourage her, as you think fit.
Have I not cause to think your brother a little out of the way in his resolution of so sudden a return?—This night perhaps, or to-morrow morning—I am vexed, my dear, because he is such an anticipater, that he leaves not to me the merit of obliging him beyond his expectation. However, I shall rejoice to see him. The moment he enters the room where I am, he can have no faults.
My aunt, who thinks he is full hasty, is gone to dine with my Grandmamma, and intends to settle with that dear parent every-thing for his reception at Shirley-manor. Nancy is gone with her. My uncle, at Mr. Orme's invitation, is gone to dine with that worthy man.
O my dearest Lady G! what shall we do? All quarrels are at an end! all petulance! all folly!—I may never, never, be his at all!—I may, before the expected time of his arrival, be the most miserable of women!—Your brother, best of men!—may be—Ah—my Charl—
Terrified to death, my pen fell from my fingers—I fainted away—Nobody came near me. I know I was not along insensible—My terrors broke through even the fit I fell into—Nothing but death itself could make me long insensible, on such an occasion—O how I shall terrify you!—Dearest Lady G.—But here, here comes my Lucy—Let her give the occasion of my anguish.
The following written by Miss Lucy Selby.
At my cousin's request, while she is lain down, I proceed, my good Lady G. to account to you for her terrors, and for mine also.—Dear creature!—But don't be too much terrified: God, we hope, God, we pray, will protect your brother! Mr. Greville cannot be capable of the shocking mischief, barbarity, villainy, which, it is apprehended, he has in view: God will protect your brother!
Here, a note was brought from an anonymous hand.—I don't know what I write, from an unknown hand signifying, that Mr. Greville was heard to threaten the life your brother; and we are told, by more than one, that he is moody, and in a bad way as to his mind. And he left his house the morning; so the note says (And that he certainly did) and was seen to take the London road, with several servants, and others—And the dear Harriet has distracted herself and me with her apprehensions. My aunt out, my uncle out, none but maid-servants at home. We, before he came up to her closet, ran up and down, directing, and undirecting; and she promised to go up, and try to compose herself, till my uncle came from The Park, where he is to dine with Mr. Orme. He is sent for—Thank God my uncle is come!—
By Miss Byron.
And what, my dear Lady G. can his coming signify? Lucy is gone down to show him the anonymous writer's note. Dear, dear Sir! Lord of my wishes! forgive me all my petulance. Come safe—God grant it!—Come safe! And Hand and Heart I will be yours, if you require it, to-morrow morning!
Here follows the copy of the alarming note. I broke the seal. It was thus directed:
To George Selby, Esq With speed, speed, speed.
A very great respecter of one of the most generous and noblest of men (Sir Charles Grandison, I mean) informs you, that his life is in great danger. He over-heard Mr. Greville say, in a rageful manner, as by his voice. 'I never will allow such a prize to be carried from me. He shall die the death,' and swore to it. He was a little in wine, it is true; and I should have disregarded it for that reason, had I not informed myself that he is set out with armed men this morning. Make what use you please of this: You never will know the writer. But love and reverence to the young Baronet is all my motive. So help me God!
Two of my uncle's tenants, severally, saw the shocking creature on the London road, with servants. What will become of me, before morning, if he arrives not this night in safety!
Monday Night, Eleven.
My uncle dispatched two servants to proceed on the London road as far as they could go for day-light. He himself rode to Mr. Greville's. Mr. Greville had been out all day, and well attended—Expected, however, to return at night.—To prepare for his escape (who knows?) after the blackest of villainies. My aunt is in tears; my uncle recollects aggravating circumstances. Our preparations, your brother's preparations, Mr. Deane's expected arrival of to-morrow—Lucy weeps; Nancy wrings her hands—Your Harriet is in silent anguish—She can weep no more!—She can write no more!
Tuesday Morning, 8 o'Clock, Nov. 7.
What a dreadful night have I had! Not a wink of sleep.
And nobody stirring. Afraid to come down, I suppose, for fear of seeing each other. My eyes are swelled out of my head.—I wonder my uncle is not down. He might give orders about something—I know not what! What dreadful visions had I ready, as it seemed, to continue my disturbance, could I have closed my eyes to give seeming form to the flying shadows! Waking dreams: For I was broad awake: Sally sat up with me. Such startings! such absences!—I never was so before. Such another night would I not have for the world! I can only write. Yet what do I write? To what purpose?—You must not see what I have written. Now on my knees, praying, vowing: Now—O my Lucy!
Lucy entered just here—Nancy followed her—Nancy tormented me with her reveries of the past night: My aunt is not well; she has not slept: My uncle fell into a dose, about his usual rising-time: He has had no rest. My grandmamma must not know the occasion of our grief, till it cannot be kept from her—If—But no more—Dreadful If—
Volume VI - lettera 39
Volume VI - Letter 40
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Tuesday 12 o'Clock, Nov. 7.
In a small hand, under the Superscription of the inner Cover.
My dearest Lady G. pray read the first page of this Letter, before you open the other dreadful one, sealed with five seals, and stitched to the Cover (that it may not slide officiously into your hands). Lucy will have me send the whole of that shocking Letter. Against my judgment, I comply.
We met this morning soul-less, and forlorn, all equally unable either to give or receive consolation. The officious note was taken up, laid down, taken up again; the hand endeavoured to be guessed at: And at last it was concluded, to dispatch a servant to Mr. Greville's, to learn news of the supposed traitor.
But, behold! before the servant could return, in a riding-dress, having alighted at the outward gate, entered the hall your noble brother. I was the first whom he saw; the first who saw him. I was just going out, intending (yet hardly knowing my intention) to walk in the Elm-row fronting the house, in order to shorten the way of the returning servant with news.
He cast himself at my feet. Something he said, and more he intended to say; excusing his early return, and thanking me for my favour of the Wednesday before; when my joyful surprise overpowered both my speech and senses.—And what will you say to me, when I tell you, that, on my recovery, I found myself in his arms, mine clasped about his neck?
He was surprised at my emotion! Well he might—Every one, in a moment, crowded about him—My aunt also folded her arms around him—Welcome, welcome, welcome, was all she could, at the instant, say.
I, utterly abashed, trembling, and doubting my feet, motioned to quit the hall for the parlour—But nobody minded me; all were busied in congratulating the joy of every heart; till Sally presenting herself, I leaned upon her, and, staggering to the parlour, threw myself into an elbow-chair.
Your brother, attended by all my friends, followed me in. My heart again bid him welcome, tho' my eye could not, at that instant, bear his. He took my hand, as I sat, between both his, and, in the most respectful manner pressing it with his lips, besought me to compose myself.
They had hinted to him in the hall, the cause of all our emotions—They had as much reason to blush, as I had.—Nancy, it seems, even Nancy, snatched his hand, and kissed it, in raptures. How dear is he to us all! He sees it, now: There can be no reserves to him, after this. Punctilio! Family Punctilio! mentioned he in his Letter!—We have now no pretensions to it—
His eyes shone with grateful sensibility. Look down upon me, loveliest of women, said he, with a bent knee; Look down upon me, and tell me, you forgive me, for my early return. But tho' returned, I am entirely at your devotion.
Lucy says, she never saw me more to my advantage. I looked down upon him, as he bid me, smiling through my tears. He stole gently my handkerchief from my half-hid face; with it he dried my unaverted cheek, and put it, she says, in his bosom. I have lost it.
My uncle and aunt withdrew with him, and acquainted him with all particulars. To them he acknowledged, in words of eloquent Love, my uncle said, the honour done him by me, and by us all, in the demonstrations we had given of our tender regard for him.
I was, by the time of their return to us, pretty well recovered. Sir Charles approached me, without taking notice of the emotion I had been in. Mr. and Mrs. Selby tell me, said he, to me, that I am to be favoured with a residence at our venerable Mrs. Shirley's. This, tho' a high honour, looks a little distant; so would the next door, if it were not under the same roof with my Miss Byron: But, smiling tenderly upon me, I shall presume to hope, that this very distance will turn to my account. Mrs. Shirley's Harriet cannot decline paying her accustomed duty to the best of grandmothers.
Bowing, I shall not, Sir, said I, be the more backward to pay my duty to my grandmamma, for your obliging her with your company.
Thus, resumed he, snatching my hand, and ardently pressing it with his lips, do I honour to myself for the honour done me. How poor is man! that he cannot express his gratitude to the object of his vows, for obligations conferred, but by owning to her new obligation!
Then turning round to my aunt—It is incumbent upon me, madam, said he, to pay my early devoirs to Mrs. Shirley, the hospitable Mrs. Shirley, repeated he, smiling; which looked as if he expected to be here. There, besides, (looking pleasantly upon my aunt) I may be asked—here I am not—to break my fast.
This set us all into motion. My uncle ran out to look after Sir Charles's servants, who, it seems, in our hurry, were disregarded: Their horses in the court-yard; three of them walking about, waiting their master's orders. My uncle was ready, in the true taste of old English hospitality, to pull them in.
Chocolate was instantly brought for their master; and a dish for each of us. We had made but a poor breakfast, any of us. I could get nothing down before. My aunt put a second dish into my hand: I took her kind meaning, and presented it to Sir Charles. How gratefully did he receive it! Will it always be so, Lady G.? My love, heightened by my duty, shall not, when the obligation is doubled, make me less deserving of his politeness, if I can help it.
But still this dreadful note, and Greville's reported moodiness, made us uneasy. The servant we sent returned, with information that Mr. Greville came home late last night. He was not stirring, it seems, tho' Eleven o'Clock, when the servant reached his house. He is said to be not well; and, as one servant of his told ours, so very fretful, and ill-tempered, that they none of them know how to speak to him. God grant—But let me keep to myself such of my apprehensions as are founded on conjecture—Why should I not hope the best? Is not your beloved brother at present safe? And is he not the care of Providence?—I humbly trust he is.
Sir Charles took the note. I think I have seen the hand, said he: If I have, I shall find out the writer. I dare say, it is written with a good intention.
My uncle and we all expressed, some in words, some by looks, our apprehensions.
There cannot possibly be room for any, said Sir Charles, always present to himself. Mr. Greville loves Miss Byron. It is no wonder, as his apprehensions of losing all hopes of her for ever, grow stronger, that he should be uneasy. He would make but an ill compliment to her merit, and his own sincerity, if he were not. But such a stake as he has in his country, he cannot have desperate intentions. I remember, to his advantage, his last behaviour here. I will make him a visit. I must engage Mr. Greville to rank me in the number of his friends.
What he said gave us comfort. No wonder if we women love courage in a man: We ought, if it be true courage, like that of your excellent brother. After all, my dear, I think we must allow a natural superiority in the minds of men over women. Do we not want protection? And does not that want imply inferiority?—Yet if there be two sorts of courage, an acquired and a natural; why may not the former be obtained by women, as well as by men, were they to have the same education? NATURAL courage, may belong to either. Had Miss Barnevelt, for example, had a boy's education, she would have probably challenged her man, on provocation given; and he might have come off but poorly.
But we have more silly antipathies than men, which help to keep us down: Whether those may not sometimes be owing to affectation, do you, Lady G. who, however, have as little affectation as ever woman had, determine. A frog, a toad, a spider, a beetle, an earwig, will give us mighty pretty tender terror; while the heroic men will trample the insect under foot, and look the more brave for their barbarity, and for our delicate screaming. But for an adventure, if a Lover get us into one, we frequently leave him a great way behind us. Don't you think so, Lady G.?—Were not this Greville still in my head, methinks I could be as pert as ever.
Sir Charles told us, that he should have been with us last night, but for a visit he was obliged to pay to Sir Harry Beauchamp; to make up for which hindrance, he took horse, and ordered his equipage to follow him.
He is gone to pay his duty, as he is pleased to call it, to my grandmamma, in my uncle's coach, my uncle with him. If they cannot prevail on my grandmamma to come hither to dinner, and if she is desirous Sir Charles should dine with her, he will oblige her—by my aunt's leave, was his address to her. But perhaps she will have the goodness to add her company to his, as she knows that will give us all double pleasure: She loves to give pleasure. Often does the dear Lady say, 'How can palsied age, which is but a terrifying object to youth, expect the indulgence, the love, of the young and gay, if it does not study to promote those pleasures which itself was fond of in youth? Enjoy innocently your season, girls, once said she, setting half a score of us into country dances. I watch for the failure of my memory; and shall never give it over for quite lost, till I forget what were my own innocent wishes and delights in the days of my youth.'
Tuesday, Five o'Clock.
My uncle and Sir Charles came back to dinner; my grandmamma with them. She was so good as to give me her company, at the first word. Sir Charles, as we sat at dinner, and afterwards, saw me weak in mind, bashful, and not quite recovered; and he seemed to watch my uncle's eyes, and so much diverted him and all of us, that my uncle had not opportunity to put forth, as usual. How did this kind protection assure me! I thought myself quite well; and was so cheerfully silent when Sir Charles talked, that my grandmamma and aunt, who had placed me between them, whispered me severally—You look charmingly easy, love—You look like yourself, my dear. Yet still this mischievous Greville ran in my head.
My uncle took notice, that Sir Charles had said, he guessed at the writer of the note. He wished he would give him an item, as he called it, whom he thought of.
You observe, Sir, answered Sir Charles, that the writer says, Mr. Greville was in wine. He professes to be an encourager of the people of the George in Northampton. He often appoints company to meet him there. I imagine the writer to be the head waiter of the house: The bills delivered me in, seem to have been written in such a hand as the note, as far as I can carry the hand writing in my eye.
Ads-heart, said my uncle, that's undoubtedly right: Your name's up, Sir, I can tell you, among men, women, and children. This man, in his note, calls you (Look, else!) the most generous and noble of men. He says, we shall never know the writer!—Ads-dines! the man must deal in art magic, that conceals himself from you, if you have a mind to find him out.
Well, but, said Lucy, if this be so, I am concerned for the reality of the information. Such threatenings as Mr. Greville throws out, are not to be slighted. Very true, said my uncle. Mr. Deane and I (Mr. Deane will certainly be here by-and-by) will go, and discourse with Greville himself to-morrow, please the Lord.
Sir Charles begged that this matter might be left to his management. Mr. Greville and I, said he, are upon such a foot, as, whether he be so sincerely my friend as I am his, or not, will warrant a visit to him; and he cannot but take it as a civility, on my return into these parts.
Should he be affronting, Sir Charles? Said my uncle—
I can have patience, if he should. He cannot be grossly so.
I know not that, replied my uncle: Mr. Greville is a roister!
Well, dear Mr. Selby, leave this matter to me. Were there to be danger; the way to avoid it, is not to appear to be afraid of it. One man's fear gives another courage. I have no manner of doubt of being able to bring Mr. Greville with me to an amicable dish of tea, or to dinner, which you please, to-morrow.
Ads-heart, Sir, I wish not to see at either, the wretch who could threaten the life of a man so dear to us all.
Sir Charles bowed to my uncle for his sincere compliment. I have nothing to do, said he, but to invite myself either to breakfast, or dine with him. His former scheme of appearing to the world well with me, in order to save his spirit, will be resumed; and all will be right.
My aunt expressed her fears, however, and looked at me, as I did at her, with a countenance, I suppose, far from being unapprehensive: But Sir Charles said, You must leave me, my dear friends, to my own methods; nor be anxious for my safety. I am not a rash man: I can pity Mr. Greville; and the man I pity, cannot easily provoke me.
We were all the easier for what the charmingly-cool, because truly-brave, man said on a subject which has given us all so much terror.
But was he not very good, my dear, not to say one word all this day of the important errand on which he came down? And to lead the subjects of conversation with design, as my aunt and grandmamma both thought, as well as I, that my uncle should not? and to give me time to recover my spirits? Yet when he did address himself to me, never were tenderness and respect so engagingly mingled. This my uncle observed, as well as my aunt and Lucy. How the duce, said he, does this Sir Charles manage it? He has a way no man but him ever found out—He can court without speech: He can take one's heart, and say never a word. Hay, Harriet! looking archly.
Mr. Deane is come—In charming health and spirits—Thank God! With what cordiality did Sir Charles and he embrace each other!
Sir Charles attended my grandmamma home: So we had not his company at supper. Now convenience without its contrary. He is her own son: She is his own parent. Such an unaffected love on both sides!—Such a sweetly-easy, yet respectful, familiarity between them! What additional pleasures must a young woman in my situation have, when she can consider herself as the bond of union between the family she is of, and that she is entering into! How dreadful, on the contrary, must be her case, who is the occasion of propagating dissension, irreconcilable hatred, and abhorrence between her own relations and those of the man to whom she for life engages herself!
My grandmother and Sir Charles were no sooner gone, than my uncle began to talk with Mr. Deane on the subject that is nearest all our hearts. I was afraid the conversation would not be managed to my liking; and having too just an excuse to ask leave to withdraw, from bad, or rather no rest, last night, I made use of it; and here in my closet (preparing now, however, for it) am I
Volume VI - lettera 40
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