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THE HISTORY OF
Volume VI - Letter 41
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday Morning, Nov. 8.
Sir Charles let my grandmother come hither by herself. He is gone to visit that Greville. We are all in pain for him: But Mr. Deane comforts us.
After breakfast, thus began my uncle upon me.
Here, Dame Selby, are we still at a fault. Harriet knows not what she would be at; and you uphold her in her nonsenses. Delicacy! Delicacy! The duce take me, if I have any notion of it!—What a pize are you about?
Dear Sir! why am I blamed? said I. What would you have me do, that I have not done?
Do! why I would have you give him his Day, and keep to it; that I would have you do: And not shilly-shally for ever—and subject the best of men to insults. All your men will be easy and quiet, when the ceremony is over, and they know there is no remedy.
My good Mr. Selby, said my grandmamma, you now blame without reason. Sir Charles was full hasty. Harriet was a little more nice, perhaps, her Lover considered, than she needed to be. Yet I don't know, but I, in her case, should have done as she did; and expected as much time as she was willing to take. It was not a very long one, Mr. Selby, from the declaration he made; and he is a man himself of great delicacy. Harriet very readily acknowledged to him the preference she gave him to all them; and when she found him very earnest for a short day, she, by her last Letter, threw herself generously into his power. He is full of acknowledgements upon it; and so he ought to be. To me he has said all that a man should say of his gratitude, upon the occasion; and he declared to me last night, that it was with difficulty he forbore taking advantage of her goodness to him: But that he checked himself, and led to other subjects, seeing how much the dear creature was disordered, and being apprehensive, that if he had begun upon one so interesting, or even wished to talk with her alone, he should have increased her disorder.
Oy, Oy! Sir Charles is considerate; and Harriet should be grateful: But indeed my Dame Selby is as silly, to the full, as Harriet. She is for having Harriet keep her in countenance in the dance she led me, so many years ago—Lady G. for my money. She finds you all out in your Masonry.
Mr. Selby, said my aunt, I only refer myself to what our venerable parent just said.
And so don't think it worth while to hold an argument with me, I suppose?
I did not know, my dear, that you wanted to hold an argument.
Your servant, madam—with that sly leer—So like Harriet! and Harriet so like you!
But, Mr. Selby, said my grandmamma, will you be pleased to tell the dear child, if you think her wrong, what is the next step she should take?
Think her wrong!—Next step!—Why the next step is, as she has promised to oblige him, and to be directed by him, to keep her word; and not hum nor haw about the matter.
Mr. Deane, who had been shown and told everything that had passed since we saw him last, said, You don't know that my daughter Byron will make unnecessary parade, Mr. Selby. Sir Charles you find, in tenderness to her, asked no questions yesterday; made no claim—She could not begin the subject.
But, said Lucy, I cannot but say, that my cousin is in some fault.
Look you there, now! said my uncle.
We all stared at Lucy; for she spoke and looked very seriously.
Might she not have said, proceeded she, when Sir Charles surprised her at his first arrival (what tho' her heart was divided between past terror, and present joy?) Here I am, Sir, at your service: Are you prepared for to-morrow?—And then made him one of her best curtsies.
Sauce-box!—Well, well, I believe I have been a little hasty in my judgment (rapping under the table with his knuckles): But I am so afraid that something will happen between the cup and the lip—Here, last night, I dreamt that Lady Clementina and he were going to be married—Give me your hand, my dear Harriet, and don't revoke the kindness in your last Letter to him, but whatever be the day he proposes, comply; and you will win my heart for ever.
As Sir Charles leads, Harriet must follow, resumed my grandmamma. You men are sad prescribers in these delicate cases, Mr. Selby. You will be put to it, my dear love, taking my hand, before this day is over, now you seem so purely recovered. Sir Charles Grandison is not a dreaming Lover. Prepare your mind, my child: You'll be put to it, I do assure you.
Why, oy; I can't but say, Sir Charles is a man—Don't you, my lovely Love, be too much a woman!—Too close a copier of your aunt Selby here!—and, as I said, you will have my heart for ever—Oy, and Sir Charles's too; for he is not one of your sorry fellows that can't distinguish between a favour and a folly.
My uncle then went out with a flourish, and took Mr. Deane with him; leaving only my grandmamma, my aunt, my Lucy, and your Harriet, together.
We had a good deal of talk upon the important subject. The conclusion was, that I would refer Sir Charles to my grandmamma, if he were urgent for the day, and she was vested with a discretionary power to determine for her girl.
Such of my clothes, then, as were near finished, were ordered to be produced, with some of the nuptial ornaments. They were all to sit in judgment upon them.
Surely, Lady G. these are solemn circumstances, lightly as my uncle thinks of them. Must not every thoughtful young creature, on so great a change, and for life, have conflicts in her mind, be her prospects ever so happy, as the day approaches? Of what materials must the hearts of runaways, and of fugitives, to men half-strangers to them, be compounded?
My aunt has just left with me the following Billet, from Sir Charles, directed to my uncle, from Mr. Greville's:
Dear Mr. Selby,
I regret every moment that I pass out of Selby-house, or Shirley-manor: And as I have so few particular friends in these parts out of your family, I think I ought to account to you for the hours I do: Nor will I, now our friendship is so unalterably fixed and acknowledged, apologise for giving myself, by this means, the consequence with your family, that every one of yours, for their single sakes, are of to me, superadded to the tenderest attachments to one dear person of it.
I found the gentleman in a less happy disposition than I expected.
It is with inexpressible reluctance that he thinks, as my happy day draws near, of giving up all hopes of an object so dear to him. He seemed strangely balancing on this subject, when I was introduced to him. He instantly proposed to me, and with some fierceness, that I would suspend all thoughts of marriage for two months to come, or at least for one. I received his request with proper indignation. He pretended to give reasons respecting himself: I allowed not of them.
After some canvassings, he swore, that he would be complied with in something. His alternative was, the dining with him, and with some of his chosen friends, whom he had invited.
I have reason to think these friends are those to whom he expressed himself with violence at the George, as overheard, I suppose, by the waiter there.
He rode out, he owned, yesterday morning, with intent to meet me; for he boasts that he knows all my motions, and those of a certain beloved young Lady. Let him; let every-body, who think it their concern to watch our steps, be made acquainted with them: The honest heart aims not at secrets. I should glory in receiving Miss Byron's hand, from yours, Sir, before ten thousand witnesses.
Mr. Greville had rode out the night before; he did not say to meet me; but he knew I was expected at Selby-house, either on Monday night, or yesterday morning: And on his return, not meeting me, he and his friends passed their night at the George, as mentioned, and rode out together in the morning—In hopes of meeting me, he said; and to engage me to suspend my happy day. Poor man! Had he been in his right mind, he could not have hoped (had he met me on the road) to have been heard on such a subject.
An act of oblivion, and thorough reconciliation, he calls it, is to pass, in presence of his expected friends.
You will not take notice of what I have hinted at, out of the family, whatever was designed.
In the temper he would have found me in, had he met me, nothing unhappy could have happened; for he is really to be pitied.
We are now perfect friends. He is full of good wishes. He talks of a visit to Lady Frampton, of a month. I write thus particularly, that I may not allow such a subject as this to interfere with that delightful one which engrosses my whole attention; and which I hope, in the evening, will be honoured with the attention of the beloved and admired of every heart, as well as of that of
Your ever-obliged and affectionate
Poor wicked Greville—May he go to Lady Frampton's, or wherever else, so it be fifty miles distant from us. I shall be afraid of him, till I hear he has quitted, for a time, his seat in this neighbourhood.
What a glorious quality is courage, when it is divested of rashness! When it is founded on integrity of heart, and innocence of life and manners! But, otherwise founded, Is it not rather to be called savageness, and brutality?
How much trouble have I given your brother! What dangers have I involved him in! It cannot be possible for me ever to reward him.—But the proudest heart may deem it a glory to owe obligation to Sir Charles Grandison.
LA STORIA DI
Volume VI - lettera 41
Volume VI - Letter 42
MISS BYRON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday Night, Nov. 8.
Sir Charles broke away, and came hither by our tea-time. I was in my closet writing. They all crowded about him. He avoided particulars: Only said, that all was friendship between Mr. Greville and himself; and that Mr. Greville came with him part of the way; full of his resumed scheme, of appearing to be upon a good understanding with him, and a friend to the alliance between him and us.
Sir Charles looked about him, as if for somebody he saw not. My aunt came up to me: My dear, do you know who is come? She then told me the above particulars. We had a summons to tea. Down we hastened. He met us both at the parlour-door. O madam, said he, what precious hours have I lost!—I have been patience itself!
I congratulated him on what my aunt had told me. I found he intended, as he says in his Billet, that the particulars he gave in it should answer our curiosity; and to have done with the subject. What a charming possession of himself, that he could be in such a brangle, as I may call it, and which might have had fatal consequences; yet to be so wholly, and so soon, divested of the subject; and so infinitely agreeable upon half a score others, as they offered from one or other as we sat at tea!
Tea was no sooner over, but he singled me out—May I, madam, beg the favour of a half-hour's audience?
Sir, Sir! hesitated the simpleton, and was going to betray my expectation, by expressing some little reluctance; but, recollecting myself, I suffered him to lead me into the Cedar parlour. When there, seating me—Now, madam, let me again thank you, a thousand and a thousand times, for the honour of your last condescending Letter.
He but just touched my hand, and appeared so encouragingly respectful!—I must have loved him then, if I had not before.
You have, my dearest Miss Byron, a man before you, that never can be ungrateful. Believe me, my dearest Life, tho' I have urged you as I have, you are absolutely your own mistress of the day, and of every day of my life, as far as it shall be in my power to make you so. You part with power, my lovely Miss Byron, but to find it with an increase. Only let me beseech you, now I have given it you back again, not to permit your heart to be swayed by mere motives of punctilio.
A charming glow had overspread his cheek; and he looked as when I beheld him in his sister's dressing-room, after he had rescued me from the hands of the then cruel, now mortified, Sir Hargrave Pollexfen.
Punctilio, mere punctilio, Sir, shall not weigh with me. What I wrote to you, I intend to comply with. My heart, Sir, is—Yours!—I would have said—Why would not my tongue speak it?—My, my, I stammered—Why did I stammer?—Had I not owned it before to be so?—My grandmamma, Sir, and aunt—I could not at that instant, for my life, say another word.
Sweet confusion! I urge you no more on this topic, just now: I joyfully take your reference. Then drawing a chair next me, he kissed his own hand, and held it out, as it were, courting mine. I yielded it to him, as by an involuntary motion—yet my heart was forwarder than my hand. He tenderly grasped it—retaining it—and instead of urging the approaching day, talked to me as if it were past.
I have a request to make to your grandmother, your uncle and aunt, your Lucy, and our Mr. Deane; it is a very bold one: That when I have been blessed with your hand, they will be so good as to accompany their beloved Harriet, then no more Byron, but Grandison, to my family-seat, and see the beloved of every heart happily fixed, and in possession of it. The house is venerable (I will not call it old); but large and convenient. Compassion for your neighbouring admirers, will induce you to support me in this request. You cannot bear, I imagine, without a lessening of your own joy (if I prove the just, the grateful man to you, that, if I know myself, I shall be) either to see at church, or in your visits, those men who preferred you to all women; or, if they forbear the one or the other, to account with a gentle sigh for their forbearance. Other women might triumph secretly on such occasions; but I, even I, the successful, the distinguished man, shall not forbear some inward pity for them. Now, madam, an excursion of a month or two, if no more, made by those dear friends, who otherwise will be loth, so soon as I wish, to part with you; will wean, as I may say, these unhappy men from you. Mr. Orme, Mr. Greville, will not then be obliged to quit their own houses, and this neighbourhood. I shall not, whenever I step into company, see dejected men, whose dejection is owing, as they will think, to my happiness: All your new relations will attend you, in turn, in the house that I always loved, and wished to settle in; your own relations with you, and witnesses of our mutual happiness—Support me, generously support me, in this proposal, when I shall be entitled, by your goodness, to make it.—Silent, my dearest Love!—If I have been too early in thus opening my heart to you, do me the justice to suppose that it is owing to my wishes to pass over another interesting subject which must take place before my proposal can; and which, however, engages my whole heart.
I might well be silent: I could not find utterance for the emotions of my heart. I withdrew my hand to take my handkerchief (You have often told me, Lady G. that I was born in an April morning); but putting it into my other hand, I gratefully (I hope not too fondly) laid it in his way to take it again. He did, with an air that had both veneration and gratitude in it—My dearest Life, tenderly grasping it—how amiable this goodness!—You are not, I see, displeased.
Displeased!—O, Sir Charles!—But, alas! while I am too-too happy, the exalted Lady abroad!—She, she, only! Your friend Jeronymo's last Letter—
Thus brokenly did I express (what my heart was full of) her worthiness, my inferiority.
Exalted creature!—Angelic goodness! You are Clementina and Harriet, both in one: One mind certainly informs you both.
Just then came in my aunt Selby. I have, madam, said he to her, been making a request to your beloved niece: I am exceedingly earnest in it. She will be so good as to break it to you; and I hope—
O Sir! interrupted my too eager aunt, supposing it had been for the Day, Mrs. Shirley has the power—
My dear aunt Selby! said I.
What have I said, Love?—
He caught eagerly at it—Happy mistake! said he. My dear Mrs. Selby, I thank you!
He bowed, kissed my hand, and left me to go to my grandmamma, to inform himself of what he had to hope for, as to the Day, from her.
I told my aunt what the request was, and what a conversation we had had: And what, madam, said I, have you done!
My aunt approved of his proposal. It will be the pride of your uncle's heart and mine, to see you settled in Grandison-hall.
What short work did my grandmamma make of it! In less than a quarter of an hour Sir Charles returned, overjoyed, with an open Billet in his hand, from the venerable parent. This is it:
'To me, my Harriet, you have referred the most important Day of your life. May the Almighty shower down his blessings on it! Thursday, next week, is the Day, that, God willing, shall crown the happiness of us all. Make no objections, my dearest child. Hasten to me, and say you acquiesce cheerfully in the determination of
Had you seen, my dear Charlotte, with what tender respect your brother approached me, and with what an inimitable grace he offered me the open Billet, how would you have been charmed with him! The excellent Mrs. Shirley, said he, would not permit me to bring this inestimable paper folded. I have contemplated the propitious lines all the way. On my knee let me thank you, my dear Miss Byron, for your acquiescence with her determination. He kissed my hand on one knee.
He saw me disturbed [Could I help it? There is something awful in the fixing of the very Day, Lady G. but I tried to recover myself. I would fain avoid appearing guilty of affection in his eyes]. I will not add a word more, my Angel said he, on the joyful subject. Only tell me, Shall we hasten to attend the condescending parent?
My duty to her, Sir, said I (but with more hesitation than I wished) shall be an earnest of that which I am so soon, so very soon, to vow to you: And I gave him my hand.
There is no describing to you, my dear Lady G. the looks, the manner, with which it was received, by the most ardent, and yet most respectful, of Lovers.
I had scare approached my grandmamma, and begun to utter something of the much my heart was filled with, when my Uncle and Mr. Deane (by mistake, I believe) were admitted.
Well, let us know every-thing about it, said my uncle—I hope Sir Charles is pleased. I hope—
The Day was named to him.
Well, well, thank God! And he spoke in an accent that expressed his joy.
Your niece has pleased you now, I hope, Mr. Selby, said my grandmamma.
Pretty well! pretty well! God grant that we meet with no Put-offs! I hardly longed so much for my own Day with my Dame Selby there, as I have done, and do, to see my Harriet Lady Grandison—God, God, bless you, my dearest love! and kissed my cheek—You have been very, very good, in the main—And, but for Dame Selby, would have been better, as far as I know.
You don't do me justice, my dear, replied my aunt.
Don't I?—Nor did I ever—taking kindly her hand—It was impossible, my dear Sir Charles Grandison, for such a man as I to do justice to this excellent woman. You never, Sir, will be so froppish as I have been: It was in my nature: I could not help it: But I was always sorry for it afterwards.—But if Harriet make you no worse a wife than my Dame Selby has made me, you will not be unhappy—And yet I was led a tedious dance after her, before I knew what she would be at—I had like to have forgot that. But one thing I have to request, proceeded my uncle—Mr. Deane and I have been talking of it—God bless your dear souls, all of you, oblige me—It is, That we may have a joyful Day of it; and that all our neighbours and tenants may rejoice with us. I must make the village smoke. No hugger-mugger doings—Let private weddings be for doubtful happiness—
O my uncle! said I—
And O my niece, too! I must have it so. Sir Charles, what say you? Are you for chamber-marriages?—I say, that such are neither decent, nor godly.
But you would not allow Lady G. to come off so—And in your own case—
Am for doing as in Lady G's. I must hope to pay my vows at the Altar to this excellent Lady. What says my Miss Byron?
I, Sir, hope to return mine in the same sacred place (my face, as I felt, in a glow); but yet I shall wish to have it as private as possible.
Why, oy, to be sure—When a woman is to do anything she is ashamed of—I think she is right to be private, for example-sake. Shall you be ashamed, Sir Charles?
Sir Charles has given it under his hand, this very day, said Lucy, interrupting him, as he was going to speak, that he shall glory in receiving my cousin's hand before ten thousand witnesses.
Make but my dearest Miss Byron easy on this head, said Sir Charles (That task, Ladies, be yours); and, so the Church be the place, I shall be happy in the manner.
The ceremony, said my grandmamma, cannot be a private one with us: Every-body's eyes are upon us. It would be an affectation in us, that would rather raise, than allay, curiosity.
And I have as good as promised the two pretty Nedhams, said my uncle—and Miss Watson and her cousin are in expectation.
O my uncle!
Dear Harriet, forgive me! These are your companions from childhood! You can treat them but once in your life in this way. They would be glad at heart to return the favour.
I withdrew: Lucy followed me—You, Lucy, I see, said I, are for these public doings—But you would not, if it were your own case.
Your case is my case, Harriet. I should hardly bear being made a show of with any other man: But with such a man as yours, if I did not hold up my head, I should give leer for stare, to see how envy sat upon the women's faces. You may leer at the men for the same reason. It will be a wicked day after all, Harriet; for a general envy will possess the hearts of all beholders.
Lucy, you know, my dear Lady G. is a whimsical girl.
So, my dear, the solemn Day is fixed. If you could favour me with your supporting presence—I know, if you come, you will be very good, now I have not, as I hope you will think, been guilty, of much, no not of any, parade—Lucy will write Letters for me to Lady D. to my cousin Reeves's, and will undertake all matters of ceremony for her Harriet. May I but have the happiness to know that Lady Clementina—What can I wish for Lady Clementina?—But should she be unhappy—that would be an abatement of my felicity indeed!
There is no such thing as thinking of the dear Emily. What a happiness, could I have seen Lady L. here!—But that cannot be! May the Day that will in its anniversary be the happiest of my life, give to Lord and Lady L. their most earnest wishes!
Sir Charles dispatches Frederick to-morrow to town with Letters: He will bring you mine. I would not go to rest till I had finished it.
What have I more to say?—I seem to have a great deal. My head and my heart are full: Yet it is time to draw to a conclusion.
Let me, my dearest Lady G. know, if I am to have any hopes of your presence? Will you be so good as to manage with Emily?
My aunt bids me suppose to you, that since we are to have all the world of our acquaintance, you should bring down your aunt Grandison with you.—We have at both houses a great deal of room.
Sir Charles just now asked my grandmamma, Whether Dr. Curtis would be satisfied with a handsome present, if every one's dear Dr. Bartlett were to perform the ceremony? My grandmamma answered, That Dr. Curtis was one of my admiring friends. He had for years, even from my girlhood, prided himself with the hopes of joining my hand in marriage, especially if the office were performed in Northamptonshire. She was afraid he would think himself slighted; and he was a worthy man.
Sir Charles acquiesced. But, greatly as I respect Dr. Curtis, I should have preferred the venerable Dr. Bartlett to any man in the world. A solemn, solemn subject, tho' a joyful one!
Adieu, adieu, my dear Lady G. Be sure continue to love me. I will, if possible, deserve your Love.
Volume VI - lettera 42
Volume VI - Letter 43
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Friday Morning, Nov. 10.
Expect a Letter of hurry, in answer to one, two, three, four, five, six, I don't know how many, of yours; some filled with tenderness, some with love, some with nicety, sense, and nonsense. I shall reckon with you soon for one of them, in which you take intolerable liberties with me. O Harriet! tremble at my resentment. You are downright scurrilous, my dear.
I imputed extravagance to Emily, in my last. The girl's a good girl. I was too hasty. I will show you two Letters of hers, and one of my brother, which clears up the imputation. I love her more and more. Poor girl! Love peeps out in twenty places of hers: In his, he is the best of men: But that you knew before.
And so the honest man kissed you; kissed your lip! O Lud! O Lud! how could you bear him afterwards in your sight?—Forgiving creature!—And so you were friends with him before you had time to show your anger.—Nothing like doing impudent things in a hurry.—Sometimes respectful, sometimes free: Why this is the way of all the fellows, Harriet!—And so they go on till the respectfulness is drawn off, and nothing but the lees are left; and after two or three months are over, the once squeamish palate will be glad of them.
I like your uncle better than I like either your aunt or you—He likes me.
What a miserable dog (Take the word for shortness, I am in haste) is Sir Hargrave!
Your plea against Clementina being compelled, or over-persuaded (the same thing) I much like. You are a good girl.
Betwixt her excellencies and yours, how must my brother's soul be divided!—I wonder he thinks of either of you. Ass and two bundles of hay, Harriet. But my brother is a nobler animal: He won't starve. But I think, in my conscience, he should have you both. There might be a law made, that the case should not be brought into precedent till two such women should be found, and such a man; and all three in the like situation.
Bagenhall! a miserable devil! Excellent warning-pieces!
Wicked Harriet! You infected me with your horrible inferences from Greville's temper, threatenings, and-so-forth. The conclusion of this Letter left me a wretch!—If these megrims are the effect of Love, thank Heaven, I never knew what it was.—Sufficient to the day, and-so-forth.
Devilish girl! to torment me with your dreams! If you ever tell me of any more of them, except they are of a different sort, woe be to you!
I like your parting scene, and all that. Your realities, thank Heaven, are more delightful than your reveries. I hope you'll always find them so.
And so you were full of apprehensions on the favour your aunt did me in employing me about your nuptial equipments. Long ago 'you gave affectation to the winds.' Good! But the winds would not accept of your present. They puffed it you back again, and your servants never told you it was brought home. I repeat, my dear, that my brother is much more clever, in these scenes of Love and Courtship, than his mistress. You are a pretty cow, my Love: You give good store of milk, but you have a very careless heel. Yet when you bethink you, you are very good; but not always the same Harriet. Your nurse in your infancy, see-sawed you—Margery-dawn—and you can't put the pretty play out of your practice, tho' it is out of your memory. I can look back, and sometimes by your frowardness, sometimes by your crowing, know how it was with you eighteen years ago.
My brother's Letter to you, after he has mentioned his visits to the two sick Baronets, is that of a man who shows you genteelly, and politely, that he is sensible he has a pretty trifler to deal with. I wish you would square your conduct, by what you must imagine a man of his sense would think of you. I should be too proud a minx, in your case, to owe obligation to my man for bearing with me—Spare me, spare me, Harriet! I have hit myself a terrible box o' the ear. But we can find faults in others, which we will not allow to be such in ourselves—But here is the difference between your conduct now, and what mine was. I knew I was wrong, and resolved one day to amend. You think yourself right, and, while you so think, will hardly ever mend, till your man ties you down to good behaviour.
Jeronymo's Letter! O the next to divine Clementina! Indeed, Harriet, I think she out-soars you. I adore her. But will she be prevailed upon to marry?—She will!—If she does—Then—But, dear Soul!—Pressed as she is—Having refused, instead of being refused, the beloved of her heart, she will still be greater than any of her Sex, if she does; the man proposed, so unexceptionable; so tenderly loving her, in the height of her calamity, as well as in her prosperity!—Gratitude to him, as well as Duty to her parents; parents so indulgent as they have always been to her; will incline her to marry. May she be happy! I am pleased with your solicitude for her happiness.
I like your answer to my brother: A good and well-deserved resignation. Let's see how you keep to it.
You do keep to it—as I expected—Ah, Harriet! you are quite a girl, sometimes; tho', at others, more than woman! 'Will he not ask leave to come down?' Fine resignation!—'Will he not write, first?'—Yes, yes, he will do every-thing he ought to do. Look to your own behaviour, child; don't fear but his will be all as it should be. As to your finery, how now, Harriet! Are you to direct every-thing; yet pretend to ask advice? Be contented that every-thing is done for you of this sort, and learn to be humble. Sure we that have passed the Rubicon, are not to be directed by you, who never came in sight of the river. But you, maidens, are poor, proud, pragmatical mortals. You profess ignorance; but in heart imagine you are at the tip-top of your wisdom.
But here you come with your horrid fears again. Would to the Lord the Day were over; and you and my brother were—Upon my life—you are a—But I won't call you names.
Lucy thinks you should go to Shirley-manor when my brother comes down. Egregious folly! I did not think Lucy could have been so silly.
Concerning our cousin Reeves's wanting to be present at your nuptials—your invitation to me—and what you say of Emily—more anon.
Well, and so my brother has sent you the expected Letter. Does it please you, Harriet? The duce is in you, if it don't.
But you are not pleased with it, it seems. He is too hasty for you. Where's the boasted-of resignation, Harriet? True Female resignation!
Tell Lucy, I am obliged to her, for her transcriptions. I shall be very proud of her correspondence.
'Your aunt thinks he is full hasty.'—Your aunt's a simpleton, as well as you. My service to her.
But is the D—l in the girl again? What would have become of Lady L. and me, had you not sent both Letters together that relate to Greville's supposed malignance? I tremble, nevertheless, at the thought of what might have been. But I will not forgive Lucy for advising you to send to us your horribly-painted terrors. What could possess her to advise you to do so, and you, to follow her advice? I forgive not either of you. In revenge I will remind you, that you are one of the good women to whom he owes all the embarrassments of his past life.
But a caution, Harriet!—Never, never, let foolish dreams claim a moment of your attention—Imminent as seemed the danger, your superstition made more dreadful to you than otherwise it would have been. You have a mind superior to such foibles: Act up to its native dignity, and let not the follies of your nurses, in your infantile state, be carried into your maturer age, to depreciate your womanly reason. Do you think I don't dream, as well as you?
Well might ye all rejoice in his safety. 'Hang about his neck, for joy!' So you ought, if you thought it would do him honour. Hush, hush, proud girl! don't scold me! I think, were a king your man, he would have been honoured by the charming freedom. 'Cast himself at your feet!' And you ought to have cast yourself at his. 'There can be no reserve to him after this,' you say. Nor ought there, had it not been for this. Did you not signify to him, by Letter, that you would resign to his generosity? Let me whisper you, Harriet—Sure you proud maiden minxes think—But I did once—I wonder in my heart, oftentimes—But men and women are cheers to one another. But we may, in a great measure, thank the poetical tribe for the fascination. I hate them all. Are they not inflamers of the worst passions? With regard to the Epics, would Alexander, madman as he was, have been so much a madman, had it not been for Homer? Of what violences, murders, depredations, have not the Epic poets been the occasion, by propagating false honour, false glory, and false religion? Those of the amorous class ought in all ages (could their future genius's for tinkling sound and measure have been known) to have been strangled in their cradles. Abusers of talents given them for better purposes (for all this time, I put Sacred poesy out of the question); and avowedly claiming a right to be licentious, and to overleap the bounds of decency, truth, and nature.
What a rant! How came these fellows into my rambling head? O, I remember—My whisper to you led me into all this stuff.
Well, and you at last recollected the trouble you have given my brother about you. Good girl! Had I remembered that, I would have spared you my reflexions upon the poets and poetasters of all ages, the truly inspired ones excepted: And yet I think the others should have been banished our commonwealth, as well as Plato's.
Well, but, to shorten my nonsense, now you have shortened yours—The Day is at last fixed—Joy, joy, joy, to you, my lovely Harriet, and to my Brother! And it must be a public affair!—Why—that's right, since it would be impossible to make it a private one. My honest man is mad for joy. He fell down on his knees, to beg of me to accept of your invitation, and of his company. I made a merit of obliging him, tho' I would have been as humble to him, rather than not be with you; and yet, by one saucy line, I imagine you had rather be without me.
Your cousin Reeves's are ready to set out.
God bless you, invite aunt Nell: She thinks herself neglected. A nephew whom she so dearly loves! Very hard! she says.—And she never was but at one wedding, and has forgot how it was; and may never be at another—Pink and yellow, all is ready provided, go down or not—O but, if you choose not her company, I will tell you how to come off—Give her your word and honour that she shall be a person of prime account at your first Christening. Yet she would be glad to be present on both occasions.
But ah, the poor Emily!—She has also been on her knees to me, to take her down with me—What shall I do?—Dear Soul! she embarrasses me! I have put her upon writing to her Guardian, for his leave: I believe she has written. If she knew her own case, I think she would not desire it.
Poor Lady L!—She is robbed, she says, of one of the greatest pleasures of her life. Ah, Charlotte! said she to me, wringing my hand, these husbands owe us a great deal. This is an humbling circumstance. Were not my Lord and yours the best of husbands—
The best of husbands! Wretches! said I. You may forgive yours, Caroline—You are a good creature; but not I mine. And something else I said, that made her laugh in the midst of her lacrimals. But she begs and prays of me, not to go down to you, unless all should be over with her. I can do her no good; and only increase my own apprehensions, if I am with her. A blessed way two poor souls of sisters of us are in. Sorry fellows!
And yet, Harriet, with such prospects as these before them, some girls leap windows, swim rivers, climb walls—Duce take their folly: Their choice is their punishment. Who can pity such rash souls as those? Thanks be praised, you, Harriet, are going on to keep in countenance the two anxious sisters,
Who, having shot the gulph, delight to see
Succeeding souls plunge in with like uncertainty;
Says a good man, on a still more serious occasion.
Good news! joyful news!—I shall, I shall, go down to you. Nothing to hinder me! Lord L. proud as a peacock, is this moment come for me: I am hurrying away with him. A fine boy!—Sister safe!—Harriet, Lucy, Nancy, for your own future encouragement! Huzzah, girls!—I am gone.
Volume VI - lettera 43
Volume VI - Letter 44
MISS BYRON TO LADY G.
Thursday, Nov. 9.
My aunt is so much afraid that every-thing will not be ready, that she puts me upon writing to you, to hasten what remains—I am more than half a fool—But that I always was. My spirits sink at the thoughts of so public a Day. The mind, my grandmamma says, can but be full; and it would have been filled by the circumstance, had not the publicness of the Day given me something more of grievance.
I am afraid, sometimes, that I shall not support my spirits; that I shall be ill—Then I think something will happen—Can it be, that I shall be the wife of Sir Charles Grandison? I can hardly believe it.—Sir Charles is tenderly concerned for me. It would be impossible, he says, that the Day could be private, unless I were to go to London; and the very proposing of that would put my uncle out of all patience, who prides himself in the thought of having his Harriet married from his own house: Nor could I expect my grandmamma's presence. He does all he can to assure my heart, and divert me: A thousand agreeable lively things he says: So tender, so considerate, in his joy!—surely I shall be too happy. But will you come? Can you? And if you do, will you be good? Will you make my case your own?
My uncle, at times, is prodigiously headstrong. Every hour he does or says something wrong; yet we dare not chide him. Thursday next will be one of the greatest days of his life, he says; and it shall be all his own. He either sings, hums, or whistles, in every motion. He resolves, he says, to get his best dancing legs in readiness. He started up from table after dinner this day, and caught hold of Lucy's hand, and whisked her round the room. Dear toad, he called her; a common address of his to Lucy (I say, because she has a jewel in her head); and flourishing about with her in a very humorous manner, put her quite out, on purpose to laugh at her; for she would have been in, if he would have let her, for the humour-sake. He was a fine dancer in his youth.
Miss Orme breakfasted with us this morning. She, no doubt, threw herself in our way on purpose to hear the news of the appointed Day confirmed. My uncle officiously told her, it would be one day next week. She named the very day, and turned pale, on his owning she was not mistaken. She hoped, she said, her brother would bear the shock, as he had been long destitute of hope. But, said she, he promised me, before he went abroad, to carry me to London on a visit to some relations there. I will remind him; and hope to prevail on him to set out next Monday or Tuesday.
God bless you! my dear Miss Byron, said she, at parting; may your bustle be happily over! I shall pity you. You will pay for being so universally admired. But your penance will be but for two days; the very Day, and that of your appearance; and in both your man will bear you out: His merit, his person, his address. Happy Miss Byron!—The universal approbation is yours. But I must have you contrive some how, that my brother may see him before he is yours: His heart will be the easier afterwards.
—Sent for down by my grandmamma.—Dear Lucy, make up the Letter for me. I know you will be glad of the opportunity.
Continued by Lucy.
'Will Lady G. admit me, in this abrupt manner, into her Imperial presence! I know she will, on this joyful occasion, accept of any intelligence. The poor Harriet! My uncle Selby would invite all the country, if they came in his way. Four of my cousin's old playfellows have already been to claim his promise. He wished, he said, he had room for all the world; it should be welcome.
'He will have the Great Barn, as it is called, cleared out; a tight large building, which is to be illuminated at night with a profusion of lights; and there are all his tenants, and those of Shirley-manor, to be treated, with their wives, and such of their sons and daughters as are more than Twelve years old. The treat is to be a cold one. Hawkins, his steward, who is well respected by them all, is to have the direction of it. My uncle's October is not to be spared. It will cost two days, at least, to roast, boil, and bake, for them. The carpenters are already sent for. Half a dozen bonfires are to be lighted up, round the Great Barn; and the stacks of wood are not to be spared, to turn winter into summer, as my uncle expresses himself.
'Neither the poor nor the populace are to be admitted, that the confusion, almost unavoidable from a promiscuous multitude, may be avoided. But notice will be given, that two houses in the neighbouring village, held by tenants of the family, and one near Shirley-manor, will be opened at Twelve on Thursday, and be kept open for the rest of the day, till Ten at night, for the sake of all who choose to go thither. The Churchwardens are preparing a list of the poor people; who, on Friday morning, were to receive Five shillings apiece, which Sir Charles has desired to make Ten; on condition that they shall not be troublesome on the day.
'Poor Sir Hargrave to whom all this joyful bustle is primarily owing!—I tell Harriet, that she has not, with all her punctilio, been half punctilious enough. She should have had him, after all, on the motive of Prince Prettiman in the Rehearsal.
'Dear madam, can your Ladyship allow of this idle rattle? But I have not time to make up for it by a ceremonious conclusion; tho' I am, with the truest respect, Lady G's
Most obedient humble Servant,
Volume VI - lettera 44
Volume VI - Letter 45
LADY G. TO MISS BYRON.
Saturday, Nov. 11.
I write a few lines, if, writing to you, I can write a few, by the special messenger that carries down all the remaining apparatus, which was committed to my care. We women are sad creatures for delaying things to the last moment. We hurry the men: We hurry our work-women, milliners, mantua-makers, friends, allies, confederates, and ourselves. When once we have given the Day, night and day, we neither take rest, nor give it: When, if we had the rare felicity of knowing our minds sooner, all might go on fair and softly. But then the gentle passion, I doubt, would glide into insipidity. Well, and I have heard my brother say, 'That things in general are best as they are.' Why I believe so; for all these honest souls, as mantua-makers, attire-women, work-women, enjoy a hurry that is occasioned by a wedding, and are half as well pleased with it, as if it were their own. They simper, smirk, gossip, over Bridal finery; spread this upon their arms or shoulders; admire that—Look you here—Look you there! And is not this?—Is not that?—And, Did you ever!—No, never, in my born days!—And is the Bride, do you say, such a lovely creature?—And is the Bridegroom as handsome a man, as she a woman!—O lud! O dear!—Would to Heaven Northamptonshire were nearer, that one might see how charming, how graceful, how becoming! and so-forth.
And why should not we women, after all, contrive to make hurry-skurries [You see how I correct myself as I go along] and make the world think our affairs a great part of the business of it, and that nothing can be done without us? Since, after a few months are over, new novelties take place, and we get into corners, sigh, groan, look silly and meagre, and at last are thrown into straw, as it is called; poor Caroline's case; who repines, that she can't be present on this new bustle in the family. But I am to write her word of every-thing—Look to your behaviour, Harriet, on the great occasion.
But a word about Caroline—Were it not for her being deprived of this pleasure, the good creature would be very happy. Lord L. and she are as fond as apes. She has quite forgot all her sufferings for him. He thanks her for his boy. She follows with her eye the little stranger, and is delighted with all that is done with him, to him, for him: Is pleased with everybody, even with the very servants, who crowd in, by permission to see his little Lordship, and already claim an interest in him. Upon my word, she makes a very pretty fond mother. And aunt Nell, who, by the way, was at the Crying-out, and was then so frighted! so thankful to God! and so happy in her own situation! [No, not for the world, would she be other than she was!] now grudges the nurses half their cares.
What good creatures are we women!
Well, but I don't know what to do about Emily. The first vice of the first woman was curiosity, and it runs through all her daughters. She has written to her Guardian, and nothing but an absolute prohibition will hinder her from making one in your train. Did the dear girl know the state of her own heart, she would choose to be a thousand miles off, rather than go. I have set her woman and mine to discourage her. I have reasoned with her myself; but there is no such thing as giving her one's true reasons; nor would I, willingly: Because she herself, having not found out her Love to be Love, I hope the fire may be smothered in her own heart, by the aid of time and discretion, before discovery; whereas, if the doors of it were to be opened, and the air let in, it might set the whole tenement in a blaze. Her Guardian's denial or assent will come, perhaps, in time; yet hardly, neither; for we shall set out on Monday. Aunt Nell is so pleased with her nursery of the little Peer, as she primly calls him, that you are rid of even her wishes to be with you. Being sure of this, I complimented her, that I knew your aunt Selby would have invited her, but that Lady L. would not be able to live without her company, all the world, and the world's wise, attentive and engrossed by your affair. She, good creature! was pleased—So as she could but be thought of importance by somebody, I knew she would be happy. I told her, that you invited nobody, but left all to your friends—Ay, poor dear Soul, said she; she has enough to think of, well as she loves your brother—and sighed for you—Worthy Ancient! The sigh a little deeper, perhaps, for some of her own Recollections.
Mr. and Mrs. Reeves would not stay for us. What will you do with us all?—Crowd you, I fear. But dispose of us, at Shirley-manor, or Selby-house, as you please. Yours, and aunt Selby's, and grandmamma Shirley's concern for us, is all we are solicitous about. But servants rooms, nay, cocklofts, haylofts, will do. We like to be put to our shifts now-and-then—Something to talk of—
But I can tell you, if you don't know it already, Lord W. and his Lady are resolved to do you honour on this occasion; but they will be but little trouble to you. My Lord's steward has a half-brother, a gentleman-farmer, in your neighbourhood—Sheldon—They will be there: But perhaps you know of this a better way. They will make a splendid part of your train. Gratitude is their inducement.
Lord L. has just now told me, that my sister, in tenderness to him, and in honour to you, has besought him to be present. O Harriet! what will you do with yourself?—Aunt Nell and I have the heart-burn for you. But Lord L. must be welcome: He is one of those who so faithfully kept your secret.
So, in our equipages, will be Lord L. my honest man, Emily, and your Charlotte: Lord L's equipages will be at the service of any of your guests; as will our spare one—I wish Beauchamp could permit himself to be present (I hope he will) on the nuptials of the friend so dear to him, with a Lady he so greatly admires.
My woman and Emily's will be all our Female attendants: One nook will serve them both.
My poor man will be mad, before the day comes. He does love you, Harriet. My brother, he says, will be the happiest man in the world—himself excepted—A hypocrite! He just popped this in, to save himself—Why dost make this exception, friend? said I—Thou knowest it to be a mere compliment—Indeed, indeed (two indeeds, which implied, that one might have been doubted) I am now (A sarcasm in his word now) as happy as mortal man can be—Ah, flatterer! and shook my head—A recognition of my sovereignty, however, in his being afraid to speak his conscience. A little of the old leaven, Harriet! I can't help it. It is got out of my heart, half out of my head; but, when I take the pen, it will tingle now-and-then, at my finger's end.
Adieu, my Love! God bless you;—I can enter into your joy. A Love so pure, and so fervent. The man Sir Charles Grandison.—And into your pain, also, in view of a solemnity so near, and to you so awful. With all my roguery, I sympathise with you. I have not either a wicked or unfeeling heart. Such as yours, however, are the true spirits; such as mine are only bully and flash.
Lucy, you are a good girl. I like the whim of your concluding for Harriet; I also like your tenants dining-room, and other managements, as the affair must unavoidably be a public one.
Neither of you say a word of good Mr. Deane: I hope he is with you. He cannot be a cypher wherever be comes, except on the right-side of the figure, to increase its consequence. Don't be afraid of your uncle; I, I, I, will manage him, never fear.
There are other passages, Harriet, in your last Letter, which I ought to have answered to—But forgive me, my dear; I had laid it by (tho' pleased with it in the main); and, having answered the most material part, by dispatching your things, forgot it as much as if I had not received it, till the moment I came to conclude. Once more, Adieu, my dearest Harriet.
Volume VI - lettera 45
Volume VI - Letter 46
MISS JERVOIS TO SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
Friday, Nov. 10.
No sooner, dear and honoured Sir, is one boon granted me, but I have another to beg; yet I blush as I write, for my troublesomeness. I told you, Sir, I had furnished myself with new clothes, on a very joyful occasion—Indeed it is on a very joyful occasion. You would lay me under a new obligation to your goodness, if you would be pleased to allow me to attend Lady G. in her journey down. I shall know, by this fresh favour, that you have quite forgiven your dutiful ward. I presume not to add another word—But I dare say, dear Miss Byron, that now is, will not be against it, if you are not.—God bless you, my honoured good Sir—But God, I hope, I am sure, will bless you; and so shall I, as surely I ought, whether you grant this favour, or not, to
Your ever-obliged, and grateful
Volume VI - lettera 46
Volume VI - Letter 47
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON TO MISS JERVOIS.
Sunday, Nov. 12.
It would give me great pain to deny to my good Miss Jervois the grant of any request she shall think fit to make to me. You shall know, you say, by the grant of this favour, that I have quite forgiven my ward. Was such a test wanted, my dear? I assure you, that what you have lately done for your mother, tho' I was not consulted in it, has heightened my opinion of the worthiness of your heart.
As to your request, I have pleasure in leaving everything relating to the happy event to my beloved Miss Byron and her friends. I will entreat her to underwrite her mind on this subject. She grieves that the solemnity cannot be private; which, beloved as she is in this neighbourhood, would be vain to attempt.
If her aunt has no objection from want of room, there cannot, my dear Emily, be any from
Your affectionate and true Friend,
My dearest Miss Jervois will excuse me, that I gave her not a formal invitation, when I intimated my wishes for Lady G's presence on the approaching solemn occasion, tho' at so many miles distance. It is a very solemn one. One's heart, my dear, cannot be so much disengaged, as to attend to invitations for the very Day, as it might on its anniversary. We shall have too great a number of friends. O my dear! can you bear to make one in so large a company? I shall not be able to attend to any of my friends on the Day: No, not to you, my Love. Can you bear with my inattention to every-body, to every subject, but one? Can you desire to see your Harriet (joyful as the occasion is, and the chosen wish of her heart) look and behave like a foolish creature? If you can, and Lady G. will take charge of my lovely young friend, all mine will rejoice in being able to contribute to your pleasure, as well as
Volume VI - lettera 47
Volume VI - Letter 48
LADY G. TO LADY L.
Selby-house, Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Well, my Sister, my Friend, my dear Lady L. how do you? As well as can be expected, I hope: The answer of a thousand years old, to every enquirer, careful or ceremonious. And how does my dear little boy? As well as can be expected, too—I am glad of it.
Here we are!—Every-body well, and happy.
I was afraid my brother would have looked more polite upon us than familiar, as he invited us not: But, no!—He was all himself, as Harriet says. He met us at our coach-door. He handed out his ward. She could not speak. Tears were in her eyes. I could have beat her with my fan. He kissed her cheek. My dear child, I thank you most sincerely for your goodness to your mother.
I was afraid that her joy would then have been too much for her. She expanded, she collected, her plumes. Her spread arms (soon, however, closed) showed me, that she with difficulty restrained herself from falling at his feet. He turned from her to me. My best Charlotte, how do you? The journey, I hope, has not incommoded you. He led me out, and, taking each of the honest men by the hand, My dear Lords, you do me honour. He then congratulated Lord L. on the present you had made him, and the family, he said.
At the inner-gate met us our sweet Harriet, with joy upon one brow, half the cares of this mortal life on the other—She led us into the Cedar-parlour, my brother returning to welcome in the two honest men, and threw her arms about my neck—My dearest Lady G. how much does your presence rejoice me!—I hope (and looked at me) your journey—Be quiet, Harriet!—You must not think so much of these matters, my Love. She was a little abashed—Don't be afraid of me; I will be very good, said I. Then will I be very thankful, replied she.
My lovely Emily! turning to her: How does my sweet friend! Welcome, once more, to Selby-house.
The girl's heart was full—She, thanking her only by a deep curtsy, abruptly withdrew to the window; and, trying for a third hem, in hopes to stifle her emotion, it broke into a half-sob, and tears followed.
Harriet and I looked; she compassionately, I vexedly, I believe; and both shook our heads at each other.
Take no notice, said I, seeing Harriet move towards the window to her—It will go off of itself. Her joy to see Harriet, that's all.
But I must take notice (for she found that Emily heard her) My dear Emily, my lovely young friend—why, why—
I will tell you, madam, interrupted she, and threw her arms about Harriet's neck, as Harriet (sitting in the window) clasped her's about her waist; and I will tell you truth, and nothing but the truth—You wrote so cool to me, about my coming—And yet I to come! But I could not help it—And I thought you now looked a little severely upon me—But Love, and I, will say, Duty to you, my dearest Miss Byron, AND NOTHING ELSE, made me so earnest to come. Say you forgive me.
Forgive you, my dearest Emily!—I had only your sake, my dear, in view. If I wrote with less warmth than you expected, forgive me. Consider my situation, my Love. You are, and ever will be, welcome to me. Your griefs, your joys, are mine—Give me which you please.
The girl! burst into fresh tears—I, I, I am now as unable, sobbed she, to bear your goodness, as before I was your displeasure—But hide, hide me! Here comes my Guardian!—What now, when he sees me thus, will become of me?
She heard his voice at the door, leading in the two Lords; and they followed by Mr. Selby, Mrs. Selby, Lucy, and Nancy.
Sir Charles went to the two young Ladies. Harriet kept her seat, her arms folded about Emily; Emily's glowing face in her bosom.
Sweet emotion! said he, my Emily in tears of joy!—What a charming picture!—O my Miss Byron, how does your tenderness to this amiable child oblige me! I sever you not; clasping his generous arms about them both.
I have afflicted my dear Emily, Sir, without intending it. I wrote coldly, my precious young friend thinks; and her Love for me makes her sweetly-sensible of my supposed ingratitude. But believe me, my dear, I love you with a true sisterly tenderness.
I took the dear girl aside, and gently expostulated with her, upon the childishness of her behaviour, and the uneasiness she would give to Miss Byron, as well as to herself, by repetitions of the like weakness of mind.
She promised fair; but, Lady L. I wish there were more of the child, and less of the woman, in this affair. Poor thing! she was very thankful for my advice; and expressed how wrong she was, because it might discourage her Guardian and Miss Byron, that now was, from letting her live with them: But for my life, said she, whatever was the matter with me, I could not help my foolishness.
Miss Nancy Selby took Emily up with her; and uncle Selby and I had a little lively hit at each other, in the old style. We drew my brother in. I had not tried his strength a good while: But, as Harriet said in one of the sauciest Letters she ever wrote, I soon found he was the wrong person to meddle with. Yet he is such a charming raillier, that I wonder he can resist his talent. No wonder, Harriet would say; because he has talents so superior to that which, she says, runs away with his poor sister.
Emily came down to us very composed, and behaved prettily enough: But had my brother as much mannish vanity as some of the sorry fellows have, who have no pretence for it, he would discern the poor Emily's foible to have some little susceptibility in it. I am glad he does not; for it would grieve him. I have already told him of the sufferings of poor Lady Anne S. on her hearing he is near marriage; and he expressed great concern upon it for that really-worthy woman.
Mr. Reeves, his wife, and Mr. Deane, were abroad when we arrived. They came in to tea. Our mutual congratulations on the expected happy event, cheered our own hearts, and would have delighted yours. Charming, charming, is the behaviour of my brother to his Bride-elect. You can have no notion of it; because at Colnebrook we always saw him acting under a restraint; owing, as since we have found, to Honour, Conscience, and a prior Love.
He diverts and turns the course of subjects that he thinks would be affecting to her; yet in such a manner, as it is hardly perceivable to be his intention to do so: For he makes something of the begun ones contribute to the new ones; so that, before uncle Selby is aware of it, he finds himself in one that he had not in his head when he sat out.—And then he comes with his 'What a pize was I going to say? But this is not what I had in my head.' And then, as my brother knows he misses his scent, only because it has not afforded the merry mortal something to laugh at; he furnishes him with some lively and innocent occasion which produces that effect, and then Mr. Selby is satisfied. Mrs. Selby and Lucy see how my brother manages him; yet find it so delicately done, that something arises from it that keeps the honest man in credit with himself and every-body else, for facetiousness, good-humour, good heart, and those qualities which really are his due, and make him in his worst subjects tolerable, and in his best valuable.
Venerable Mrs. Shirley is to be here all to-morrow and next day. Mr. Deane has chosen Shirley-manor for his abode, for the time he stays; so has James Selby, in order to make more room at Selby-house for us women. There too Mr. and Mrs. Reeves take up, of choice, their lodgings, tho' here all day.
Poor Harriet! She told me once, that fear makes cowards loving. She is so fond of me and Lucy, and her aunt, at times, it would be a sin not to pity her. Yet Lucy once tossed up her head, upon my saying so—Pity her! why, yes, I think I do, now you have put me in the head of it: But I don't know whether she is not more to be envied. Lucy is a polite girl. She loves her Harriet. But she knew I should be pleased with the compliment to my brother.
Harriet has just now looked in upon me—Writing, Lady G. And of me?—To Lady L. I suppose?
She clasped her arms about me: Ah, madam! Thursday! Thursday!
What of Thursday?
Is the day after to-morrow!
Every child can tell that, Harriet.
Ah but I, with such happiness before me, am sillier than a child!
Well, but I can tell you something, Harriet.
What is that?
That the next day to Thursday, is Friday—The next to that is Saturday—The next—
Pish! I'll stay no longer with you, giving me a gentle tap—I would not have answered you so.
Away she tripped, desiring her affectionate compliments to dear Lady L.
Let me see! Have I any more to write? I think not. But a call for supper makes me leave my paper unsubscribed.
Emily behaved very prettily at supper; but it would have been as well, if she had not thought so herself: For she boasted of her behaviour afterwards to me. That made it look like an extraordinary in her own account.
Mr. Selby sung us a song, with a good Fox-hunter air. There is something very agreeable in his facetiousness: But it would become nobody else. I think you and I agreed at Dunstable, that he is a fine, jolly, hearty, handsome-ish man—He looks shrewd, arch, open, a true country gentleman aspect; what he says is so-so—What he means is better.—He is very fond of your Lord—But I think rather fonder of mine—A criterion, Lady L!
As for Lord G. he is in the situation of Harriet's Singleton—He is prepared to laugh the moment Mr. Selby opens his mouth; especially when he twists his neck about, turns a glass upside-down, and looks under his bent brows, at the company round, yet the table always in his eye: For then we know, that something is collected, and ready to burst forth.
Well, good night! good night! good night!—Has my Godson-elect done crying yet? What a duce has he to cry at? Unswaddled, unpinioned, unswathed, legs and arms at full liberty: But they say crying does good to the brats—opens their pipes—and-so-forth—But tell him, that if he does not learn to laugh, as well as cry, he shall not be related to
Volume VI - lettera 48
Volume VI - Letter 49
LADY G. IN CONTINUATION.
Wedn. Nov. 15.
Wednesday is come, and, as Harriet says, to-morrow is Thursday. Ah, Harriet! rich as content! poor as patience!
I have been talking to her: Half-comforting her, half-laughing at her. She says, I am but half-good.—All the world is come.—Lord W. and his ever-agreeable Lady. Beauchamp, as I am alive, with them! I wish I could see this rogue Emily in love with him. He is certainly in love with her.
'I know it—I know it!—Do you go down, about your business.'
Only Lord G. come to tell me what I knew before.
Harriet's gone down to be complimented. She has hardly spirits to compliment.
'Well, well, I'll only tell Lady L. who is come. Does not the poor soul keep her bed? And are we not to be as complaisant to our ill friends, as our well?—I am coming, Child.'
Emily, with her pretty impertinence. Neither Lord G. nor Emily, can be any-thing, when strangers come, and I stand not by them to show their signification.
Duce! a third messenger—O! Mrs. Selby herself. I'll tell you more by-and-by, Lady L. 'Your servant, Mrs. Selby. I attend you.'
The two Miss Nedhams, Miss Watson, Miss Barclay, the two Miss Holles's, Mr. Deane—'So, so, so, Harriet, said I, what is the meaning of this?'—My uncle's doings! I have no spirits. Sir Charles should not have been so passive: He, and no-body else, could have prevailed upon my uncle. My aunt has held him in, till her arms ached. O the dear restiff man! She has now let go; and you see how he prances over the whole meadow, the reins upon his neck.
Dear girl! said I, I am glad you are so fanciful.
I would fain be lively, if I could, said she. Never any creature had more reason, Lady G.—My heart is all Gratitude, and, I will say, Love.
Good girl! hold up your head, my dear, and all will be as it should be.
Sir Charles stayed to attend hither the most venerable of women. Mr. and Mrs. Revees are to come with them. You must, as you expect me to be minute, be content with bits and scraps, written by snatches of time. I pity you for your still-life, my dear Lady L. and think your request, that I will so write, as to make you suppose yourself on the spot, a reasonable one.
Here is come the man of men!
With what respect (all his Respect has Love in it) did he attend Mrs. Shirley to her seat! And then hastening to Lord and Lady W. he saluted them both, and acknowledged the honour done him by their presence; an hour, he said, that he could not have expected, nor therefore had the thought, the distance so great, of asking for it.
He then paid his compliments, in the most affectionate manner, to his amiable friend Beauchamp; who, on his thanking him for his uninvited presence, said, He could not deny himself being present at a solemnity that was to complete the happiness of the best of men, and best of friends.
Sir Charles addressed himself to the young Ladies who were most strangers to him; apologising to them, as they were engaged with Mr. Selby, Mr. Deane and Lord G. that he did not at first. He sat a few minutes with them: What he said, I heard not; but they smiled, blushed, and looked delighted upon each other. Every-body followed him in his motions, with their eye. So much presence of mind, never met with so much modesty of behaviour, and so charming a vivacity.
The young Ladies came only intendedly to breakfast, and that at Mr. Selby's odd invitation. They had the good sense to apologise for their coming this day, as they were to make part of the cavalcade, as I may call it to-morrow. But the odd soul had met the four at a neighbouring Lady's, where he made a gossiping visit, and would make them come with him.
I observed, that nobody cared to find fault with him; so I began to rate him; and a very whimsical dialogue passed between us at one end of the room, while Sir Charles, Mrs. Shirley, Mrs. Selby, Lady W. and Harriet, were in close talk at the other.
I made the honest man ashamed of himself; and every-body in our circle was pleased with us. This misled me to go on; and so, by attending to his nonsense, and pursuing my own, I lost the opportunity of hearing a conversation, which, I dare say, would have been worth repeating to you by pen and ink. Harriet shall write, and give it you.
Mr. Orme and his Sister, we are told, set out yesterday for London. Mrs. Selby and Harriet are yet afraid of Greville.
The gentlemen and some of the Ladies, myself (but not Harriet) among them, have been to look at the preparations made in the lesser Park, for the reception of the tenants. Mr. Selby prided himself not a little on his contrivances there. When we returned, we found Harriet at one end of the great parlour, sitting with Emily; her grandmother, Mr. Selby, Lucy, in conversation at the other; the good girl's hand in hers, Emily blushing, looking down, but delighted, as it seemed; Harriet, with sweetness, love, and compassion, intermingled in her aspect, talking to her, and bending over her, her fine neck. I thought I never saw her look so lovely. Elder sister like, and younger, one instructing in love, the other listening with pleasure.
They (unobserved by themselves) took every-body's attention, as the room filled with the company, who all crowded about Mrs. Shirley, affecting not to heed the two friends. What would I give, said Lady W. to Sir Charles and her Lord, for a picture of those two young Ladies (Emily just then kissed the hand of her lovely friend with emotion, and Harriet lifted up Emily's to her lips) if Love, Dignity, and such Expression, could be drawn in the face of one Lady; and that Reverence, Gratitude, and modest Attention, in the other? I congratulate you, Sir Charles, with all my heart. I have observed with rapture, from every look, every word, and from the whole behaviour of Miss Byron, that your goodness to hundreds will be greatly recompensed. O my good Lord W. turning to him, Miss Byron will pay all our debts.
Every attitude, every look, of Miss Byron's, said my Lord, would furnish out a fine picture. I cannot keep my eye from her, wherever she is.
My brother bowed, delighted.
How pleased was Mrs. Shirley, Mrs. Selby—Everybody! But what a different man is Lord W. to what he once was! lifted up from low keeping, to a wife, who, by her behaviour, good sense, politeness, gives him consequence. Once I thought him one of the lowest of men. I denied him, in my heart, a relation to my mother, and thought him a savage.
The two young Ladies, finding themselves observed, stood up, in a parting posture; but Emily seeming eager to detain her dear friend's attention, Harriet took a hand of Emily's in each of hers.
I had sidled that way—Yes, my dear, said the lovely Harriet, friendship unalterable by time or fate, as you say. Dearest Emily, command me ever.
Emily looked about her—O madam, I want to kneel to you. I will ever, ever—My good Lady G. said Harriet, approaching me, one of Emily's hands in hers, we have promised a friendship that is to continue to the end of our lives. We are to tell each the other all her faults. How causelessly has my Emily been accusing herself!—The most ingenuous of human hearts is hers.
She left Emily's hand in mine, and bent towards Mrs. Shirley, and the whole circle of friends surrounding her chair.
O my dear Lady G! said Emily, whisperingly, as we followed the meek-eyed Goodness of Wisdom [Such her air, her manner, her amiableness, seemed in my thought, at that time, to make her], never, never was such graciousness! I cannot hear her goodness. What a happy creature shall I be, if I follow her example, and observe her precepts!—You cannot, my dear, said I, have a better guide: But, Love, you must not be capricious, as you were at first coming. She professed she would not. I have been excusing myself to her, madam, said the dear girl, and am forgiven.
My brother met the lovely creature. He took her hand, and, leading her towards her grandmother, We have been attentive, my dearest life, to you and Emily. You love her: She adores you. My Beauchamp, you know not the hundredth part of the excellencies of this admirable woman.
You were born for each other. God preserve you both, for an example to a world that wants it.
Harriet curtsied to Beauchamp. Her face was overspread with a fine crimson; but she attempted not to speak. She squeezed herself, as it were, between the chairs of her grandmamma and aunt; then turned about, and looked so charmingly! Miss Jervois, Sir, said she, to my brother, has the best of hearts. She deserves your kind care. How happy is she, in such protection!
And how much happier will she be in yours, madam! replied he. Of what a care, my Emily, turning to her, has this admirable Lady already relieved my heart! the care the greater, as you deserve it all. In every-thing take her direction: It will be the direction of love and prudence. What an amiable companion will you make her! and how happy will your love of each other make me!
Emily got behind me, as it were. Speak for me to my guardian, promise for me, madam—You never never, shall break your word through my fault.
Beauchamp was affected. Graciousness, said he, looking at Harriet, and Goodness, looking at Emily, how are they here united! What a happy man will he be, who can entitle himself to a Lady formed upon such an example!
A sun-beam from my brother's eye seemed to play upon his face, and dazzle his eyes. The fine youth withdrew behind Lady W's chair. Mr. Selby, who had been so good as to give us his silent attention, then spoke, with a twang through his nose. Adad, adad, said he, I don't know what to make of myself—But go on, go on; I love to hear you.
Your good Lord, my dear, enjoyed the pleasure we all had: Mine tossed up his head, and seemed to snuff the wind: And yet, my dear Lady L. there was nothing so very extraordinary said; but the manner was the thing, which showed a meaning, that left language behind it.
My brother is absolutely passive as to the economy of the approaching solemnity. Mrs. Shirley, Mrs. Selby, Lady W. your Charlotte, and Lucy, are the council appointed; but uncle Selby will put in, to marshal this happy proceeding. What a pize, he says, is not Harriet his daughter? Will it not be his Day?
Mrs. Selby tries to smile off his oddity; but now-and-then we see her good-naturedly redden at it, as if for his sake. Lucy looks at her uncle as if she could hardly away with his particularities; but Mrs. Shirley has always something to say for him. She enters into his character: She knows the honesty, as well as generosity, of his heart: That it all proceeds from joy and love; and always allows for him—As I would have my friends allow for me: And, to say truth, I, for my own part, like him the better for wanting allowances; because his case, in that respect, is mine. Ah, my dear! it is the thoughtful, half-asleep, half-awake, blinking cat, that catches the mouse. Such as your Charlotte, with their kittenish tricks, do but fright away the prey; and, if they could catch it, had rather play with it, than kill it.
Harriet is with her virgins: Her dress is left to her own choice. I stepped in just now—She met me at her dressing-room door, and looked so lovely! so silly! and so full of unmeaning meaningness [Do you understand me, Lady L?] She sighed—What would my Harriet say to me? said I, taking her hand.—I don't know; again sighed—But love me, Lady G.—Can I help it? said I; and, putting my arms about her, kissed her cheek.
Uncle Selby has provided seven gentlemen of the neighbourhood, to match the number of the Ladies; for there will be sixteen of us: Mr. Godsrey, Mr. Steele, Mr. Falconbridge, three agreeable young men, sons of gentlemen in the neighbourhood, Mr. Selby's chosen friends and companions in his field-sports; his cousin Holles, brother to the Miss Holles's, an admirer of Miss Nedham; young Mr. Roberts, an admirer of Miss Barclay; Mr. Allestree, a nephew of Sir John, a young man of fine qualities engaged to Miss Dolly Nedham: and Lord Reresby of Ireland (related to Mr. Selby's favourite Sir Thomas Falconbridge), a young nobleman of shining parts, great modesty, good-nature, and, what is worth them all, Mrs. Shirley says, a man of virtue.
Lord W. was very desirous of giving so rich a jewel as Harriet to his nephew, in return, as he said, for as rich a jewel which he had presented to him; but Mr. Selby would not admit of that. I told him, on his appeal to me, that he was right, once in his life.
Mr. Selby talks much of the music he has provided for to-morrow. He speaks of it as a band, I assure you.
We have had a most agreeable evening. My brother was the Soul of the company. His address to his Harriet was respectfully-affectionate, yet, for her sake, not very peculiar. Every-body, in turn, had his kindest notice, and were happy in it. The next day's solemnity was often hinted at by Mr. Selby, and even by my flippant Lord—But Sir Charles always insensibly led to more general subjects; and this supported the spirits of the too thoughtful Harriet, and she behaved, on the whole, very prettily. His joy visibly was joy; but it seemed to be joy of so familiar and easy a nature, as if it would last.
He once occasionally told the happy commencement of his acquaintance with Miss Byron; on purpose, I saw, to remind her, that he ought not to be thought of as a stranger to her, and to engage her in an easy familiarity. But there was a delicacy observed by him in the remembered commencement. He put it not from the time that he rescued her from Sir Hargrave; but from the first visit she made me in St. James's Square; tho' she, with great gratitude, carried it back to its real commencement.
Mrs. Shirley retired soon, as is her custom, her Harriet attending her. The old Lady is lame, and infirm; but, as she sits, is a very fine woman; and every-body sees that she was once a beauty. I thought I never saw beauty in full bloom so beautiful as when it supported beauty in ruins, on the old Lady's retiring with a face so happy, leaning one arm on her lovely grandchild, a neat crutch-stick in the other, lightning her weight to the delicately-formed supporter of her old age. It was so striking a picture, that every soul all standing up, from reverence, or her retreating, observed it; and no one knew which observed it first, when the door shut out the graceful figures.
The old Lady's lameness is owing, it seems, to a sprained sinew, got in leading up a dance, not many years ago, proposed by herself, in order to crown the reconciliation which she had brought about, between a couple that had, till then been unhappy; and which her good-nature and joy made her not sensible of till she sat down. Pity, pity, that any-thing should have hurt so benign, so cheerful, so benevolent, a woman! Why did not Harriet tell us this circumstance? It would have heightened our value for her: And the more, if she had told us, as is the truth, that she never considers it as a hurt (so honourably come by) but when she thinks she is troublesome to those about her.
Harriet returned to company more cheerful than when she left it, enriched with her grandmother's blessings, and prayers for her and my brother (as she whispered me) and in having been allowed to support the tottering parent.
Harriet, said I, aloud, you were a very naughty girl to accuse me, as once you did, of reflecting upon age. You never, in my eyes, looked more lovely than you did half an hour ago, supporting the best of old Ladies.
We are of your Ladyship's mind, said Lady W. A new grace, believe me, my dear, shone out in every graceful feature.
Your kind notice, Ladies, bowing to me and Lady W. does me honour; but more to your own hearts.
Most gracefully does the dear girl receive and return a compliment; but this, Lady L. I need not now say to you: We have both admired her on these occasions. How happy will she make a man, who can be so sensible of his happiness! And how happy will he make her! He, who has the most grateful and enlarged of human hearts!
Mr. Deane, Sir Charles, Lord and Lady W. Mrs. Shirley, Mr. and Mrs. Selby, Lucy, Lord L. and I withdrew, to read, and see signed, the Marriage-articles, soon after tea (I tell you things out of course, Lady L. as they come into my head): When they were ready to sign, the dear Harriet was sent for in. She would not come before. She begged, she prayed, she might not. The first line of each clause, and the last for form sake, were run over, by Mr. Deane, as fast as he could read. How the dear creature trembled when she came in, and all the time of the shortened reading! But when the pen was given her, to write her name, she dropped it twice, on the parchment. Sir Charles saw her emotion with great concern; and held her up, as she stood. My dearest life, said he, take time, take time—Do not hurry; putting the pen each time, with reverence, in her fingers.
She tried to write, but twice her pen would not touch the parchment, so as to mark it. She sat down. Take time, take time, my Love, repeated he. She soon made another effort, his arm round her waist—She then signed them; but Sir Charles held her hand, and the parchments in them, when she delivered them.— 'As your act and deed, my dearest Love?' said Sir Charles.—'Yes, indeed,' said the dear creature, and made him a curtsy; hardly knowing what she did.
She must hear of this, when she can bear it. You charged me to be very minute on the behaviour of our Harriet: You was sure it would be a pattern. But, no! you see she is too timid.
She accompanied me to my chamber when we retired for the night. She signed. I took notice of it.—O my Charlotte! said she, To-morrow! To-morrow!—
Will be the beginning of your happiness, my Harriet!—What virgin heart, said I, but must have had joy, on her contemplating the man of sense and politeness, had his behaviour of this night only been the test of her judgment of him?
True! And I have joy: But the circumstance before me is a solemn one: And does not the obligation lie all on his side?
Does he behave to you, my Love, as if he thought any of it did?
O no, no! But the fact is otherwise; and as I know it, the obligation is heightened by his polite goodness to me.
Dearly does he love his Harriet (To-morrow will you be his Harriet for life). Are you not convinced that he loves you?
I am, I am! But—
But what, my dear?
I never can deserve him. Hapless, hapless Clementina! she only could! Let a fortnight after to-morrow be over, and she be not un-happy, and what a thrice happy creature shall I be!
I kissed her glowing cheek.—Support yourself like a heroine to-morrow, my dear. You will have a task, because of the crowds which will attend you; but it is the tax you pay for being so excellent, and so much beloved.
Is it not strange, Lady G. that my grandmamma should join to support my uncle in his vehemence for a public day? Had it been only his command, I would have rebelled!
The pride they take in the alliance with my brother, not for his situation in life, but for his transcendent merit, is their motive; your grandmother's particularly. She considers the day as one of the happiest of her life: She has begged of me to support you in undergoing it. She says, If there should be a thousand spectators, she knows it will give pleasure to as many hearts; and to hers the more, for that reason. And you will be, continued I, so lovely a Pair, when joined, that every beholder, man and woman, will give him to you; you to him.
You are very good, my dear Lady G. to encourage me thus: But I told my grandmother, this night, that she knew not the hardship she had imposed on me, by insisting on a public day; but I would not begin so great a change, whatever it cost me, by an act of opposition or disobedience to the will of so dear a parent. But your brother, my dear Lady G. continued she, who would have thought he would have given into it?
As your friends mean a compliment to my brother, replied I; so he, by his acquiescence, means one to you, and to them. He is not a confident man: He looks upon Marriage in as awful a light as you do; but he is not shy of making a public declaration of his Love to the woman he has chosen. He has told me, talking of this very subject, that a public ceremony is not what, for your delicacy-sake, he would have proposed: But being proposed, he would not, by any means, decline it. He had no concern but for you; and he took your acquiescence as a noble instance of your duty and obligingness to one of the most affectionate and worthy of parents.
O my dear Lady G. how good was you to come down! Support me in the arduous task of To-morrow!—You will not want my support, my love; you will have Sir Charles Grandison, bound, both by Duty and Love, to support you.
She threw her arms about me: I will endeavour to behave as I ought, in a circumstance that shall entitle me to such protection, and to such a Sister.
My fidgeting Lord thrust in (unsent for) his sharp face; and I chiding him for his intrusion, she slipped away, or I had designed to a tend her to her chamber; and there, perhaps, should we have stayed together most part of the night. If I had, I don't suppose that I should have deprived her of any rest. What makes my foolish heart throb for her? so happy as she is likely to be!—But sincerely do I love her.
I should have told you, that Emily behaved very prettily. Mr. Beauchamp had a rich opportunity to engage her, while the settlements were executing.
On our return to them, the poor girl was wiping her eyes. How now, Emily? said I softly. O madam, Mr. Beauchamp has been telling me how ill Sir Harry is! His own eyes set mine the example. How I pity him! And how good he is!—No wonder my Guardian loves him.
Beauchamp may possibly catch her in a weeping fit. The heart softened by grief, will turn to a comforter. Our own grief produces pity for another: Pity, Love. They are next neighbours, and will call in to ask kindly how a sufferer does: And what a heart must that be, that will not administer comfort when it makes a neighbourly call, if comfort be in its power?
'Lord G. you are very impertinent.' I am in the scribbling vein, my Caroline. And here this man— 'Say another word, Lord G. and I'll sit up all night— Well, well, now you return not sauciness for threatening, I will have done.'
Good night—Good morrow, rather, Lady L.—O Lady L.! Good morrow may it be!
Volume VI - lettera 49
Volume VI - Letter 50
LADY G., MISS SELBY TO LADY L.
THURSDAY Morning, Nov. 16.
You shall find me, my dear Sister, as minute as you wish. Lucy is a charming girl. For the humour's sake, as well as to forward each other, on the joyful occasion, we shall write by turns.
It would look as if we had determined upon a public day, in the very face of it, were we to appear in full dresses: The contrary, therefore, was agreed upon yesterday. But every one, however, intends to be dressed as elegantly as Morning-dresses can make them. Harriet, as you shall hear, is the least showy. All in Virgin white. She looks, she moves, an Angel! I must go to the dear girl.
'Lucy, where are you?'
'Here, madam—But how can one write, when one's thoughts—'
'Write as I bid you. Have I not given you your cue?'
(Lucy; taking up the pen.) Dear Lady L. I am in a vast hurry. Lord W. Lady W. and Mr. Beauchamp, are come in my Lord's coach. Sir Charles, Mr. Deane, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves, have been here this half-hour. Has Lady G. dated? No, I protest! We women are above such little exactnesses. Dear Lady L! the Gentlemen and Ladies are all come. They say the Church-yard is crowded with more of the living, than of the dead, and there is hardly room for a spade. What an image, on such a day! We are all out of our Wits between joy and hurry. My cousin is not well; her heart misgives her! Foolish girl!—She is with her grandmamma and my grandmamma Selby. One gives her hartshorn, another salts. 'Lady G. Lady G. I must attend my dear Miss Byron: In an hour's time that will be her name no longer.'
(Lady G.) Here, here, child!—Our Harriet's better, Lady L. and ashamed of herself. Sir Charles was sent for up, by her grandmother and aunt, to sooth her. Charming man! Tenderness and Love are indeed Tenderness and Love in the brave and manly heart. Emily will not be married, on any consideration. There is a terror, and not joy, she says, in the attending circumstances. Good Emily, continue to harden thy heart against Love, and thoughts of Wedlock, for two years to come; and then change thy mind, for Beauchamp's sake!
'Dear Lucy, a line or two more. Your uncle, I hear his voice, summoning—The man's mad! mad indeed, Lady L.—In such a hurry!'—Lucy, They are not yet all ready.
'Nor I, says the raptured saucy-face, to take up the pen—Not a line more can I, will I, write, till the knot is tied.
Nor I, my dear Lady L. till I can give you joy upon it.
I fib: For this hurrying soul himself, in driving every body else, has forgot to be quite ready—But we are in very good time. Lucy has brought me up the Order of Procession, as Earl-marshal Selby has directed it.
Here I pin it on.
First Coach (Mr. Selby's): The Bride, the Bridegroom, Mrs. Shirley, Mr. Selby, Bride-Men and Maids;
Second Coach (Mrs. Shirley's): Lord Reresby, Mr. Beauchamp, Miss Emily Jervois and Miss Nedham;
Third Coach (Sir Charles's): Mr. Falconbridge, Mr. Allestree, Miss Barclay and Miss Watson;
Fourth Coach (Lord W's): Lady W., Mrs. Selby, Lord W. and Lord L.;
Fifth Coach (old Mrs. Selby's): Old Mrs. Selby, Lord G., Lady G. and Mr. Deane;
Sixth Coach (Mr. Reeves's): Mrs. Reeves, Mr. Reeves, Mr. James Selby and Miss Lucy Selby;
Seventh Coach (Sir John Holles's): Mr. Holles, Mr. Steele, Miss Nancy Selby and Miss Kitty Holles;
Eighth Coach (Lord G's): Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Roberts, Miss Patty Holles and Miss Dolly Nedham.
Each coach four horses. Sir Charles's state-coach to be reserved for the day of public appearance.
[From Selby-house to the Church, Half a mile, in Coaches; Foot-way not so much.]
Emily was very earnest to be Bride-maid, tho' advised to the contrary.
Mr. Beauchamp was a Brideman, at his own request also.
I will go back to the early part of the morning.
We are each of us serenaded, as I may say, by direction of this joyful man uncle Selby (awakened, as he called it, to music) by James Selby, playing at each person's door an air or two, the words from an Epithalamium (whose, I know not);
The Day is come, you wished so long:
Love picked it out among the throng:
He destines to himself this Sun,
And takes the reins, and drives it on.
It is indeed a fine day. The sun seemed to reproach some of us; but Harriet slept not a wink. No wonder.
I hastened up to salute her. She was ready dressed. Charming readiness, my Love, said I! I took the opportunity while I was able, answered she.
Lucy, Nancy, were with her, both dressed, as she, for the Day; that they might have nothing to do but attend her. What joy in their faces! What sweet carefulness in the lovely Harriet's!—And will this Day, said she once, in a low voice, to me, give me to the Lord of my Heart?—Let not grief come near it; joy can be enough painful!
Her grandmamma was soon ready. Harriet hurried in to her grandmamma'a apartment, to crave her blessing.
(Lucy.) My cousin, her spirits over-hurried, was ready to faint in her grandmother's arms; but, revived by the soothings, the blessings, of her venerable parent, soon recovered. Let nobody be frighted, said her grandmother: Affright not, by your hurryings, my lovely child! A little fatigued; her spirits are hurried: Her joy is too much for them.
What a charming presence of mind has Mrs. Shirley! Lady G. bids me write any-thing to your Ladyship, so I will but write; and forbids me apologising either for manner or words.
Sir Charles was admitted. She stood up the moment she saw him, Love and Reverence in her sweet aspect. With a kind impatience he hastened to her, and threw himself at her feet, taking her hand, and pressing it with his lips—Resume your magnanimity, my dearest Life: With the man before you, by God's blessing, you will have more than a chance for happiness.
Forgive me, Sir, said she, sitting down (She could hardly stand): I can have no doubt of your goodness: But it is a great Day! The Solemnity is an awful one!
It is a great, a solemn, Day to me, my dearest creature! But encourage my joy by your smiles. It can suffer abatement only by giving you pain.
Generous goodness! But—
But what, my Love?—In compliment to the best of Parents, to the kindest of Uncles, resume your usual presence of mind. I else, who shall glory before a thousand witnesses in receiving the honour of your hand, shall be ready to regret that I acquiesced so cheerfully with the wishes of those parental friends for a public celebration.
I have not been of late well, Sir: My mind is weakened. But it would be ungrateful, If I did not own to you, that my joy is as strong as my fear: It overcame me. I hope I shall behave better. You should not have been called to be a witness of my weakness—
This Day, my dearest Love, we call upon the world to witness to our mutual vows. Let us show that world, that our Hearts are one; and that the Ceremony, sacred as it is, cannot make them more so. The engagement is a holy one: Let us show the Multitude as well as our surrounding Friends, that we think it a laudable one. Once more I call upon you, my dearest Life, to justify my joy by your apparent approbation. The world around you, loveliest of women, has been accustomed to see your Lovers; show them now the husband of your choice.
O Sir! you have given me a motive! I will think of it throughout the whole Sacred Transaction. She looked around her, as if to see if every-body were ready that moment to attend her to Church.
(Lady G.) The Ceremony is happily over; and I am retired to oblige my Caroline. You have the form of the Procession. When ever-thing was ready, Mr. Selby thought fit to call us down in order into the Great Hall, according to it, marshalling his Fours; and great pride and pleasure did he take in his office. At his first summons, down came the Angel, and the four young Ladies, and each of the four had her partner assigned her.
Emily seemed, between the novelty and the parade, to be wholly engaged.
Harriet, the moment she came down, flew to her grandmamma, and kneeled to her, Sir Charles supporting her as she kneeled, and as she arose. A tender and sweet sight!
The old Lady threw her arms about her, and twice or thrice kissed her forehead; her voice faltering—God bless, bless, sustain my child!—Her aunt kissing her cheek. Now, now, my dearest Love, whispered she, I call upon you for fortitude.
She visibly struggled for resolution, but seemed, in all her motions, to be in a hurry, as if afraid she should not hold it. She passed me with such a sweet confusion! Charming girl! said I, taking her hand, as she passed, and giving way to her quick motions for fear restraint should disconcert her.
When her uncle gave the word for moving, and approached to take her hand, she in her hurry, forgetting her cue, put it into Sir Charles's. Hold, hold said her uncle, sweeping his bosom with his chin, in his arch way, that must not yet be. My brother, kissing her hand, presented it in a very gallant manner to her uncle. I yield it to you, Sir, said he, as a precious trust; in an hour's time to be confirmed mine by Divine, as well as human Sanctions.
Mr. Selby led the lovely creature to the coach, but stopped at the door with her, for Mrs. Shirley's going in first: The servants at distance all admiring, and blessing, and praying, for their beloved young Lady.
Sir Charles took the good Mrs. Shirley's hand in one of his, and put the other arm round her waist, to support her. What honour you do me, Sir! said she. I think I may throw away this (meaning her ebony crutch-stick): Do I ail any-thing? Her feet, however, seconded not her spirits. My brother lifted her into the coach. It was so natural to him to be polite, that he offered his hand to his beloved Harriet; but was checked by her uncle (in his usual pleasant manner): Stay your time, too ready Sir, said he. Thank God it will not be so long before both hands will be yours.
We all followed, very exactly, the order that had been, with so much proud parade, prescribed by Earl-marshal Selby.
The coach-way was lined with spectators. Mr. Selby, it seems, bowed all the way, in return to the salutes of his acquaintance. Have you never, Lady L. called for the attention of your company in your coach, to something that has passed in the streets, or on the road, and at the same time thrust your head through the windows so that nobody could see but yourself? So it was with Mr. Selby, I doubt not.
He wanted every one to look in at the Happy Pair; but took care that hardly any-body but himself should be seen. I asked him afterwards, If it were not so? He knew not, he said, but it might. I told him, he had a very jolly comely face to show, but no head. He does not spare me: But true jests are not always the most welcome. Tell a Lady of Forty, that she is Sixty or Seventy, and she will not be so angry as if she were guessed to be Eight or Nine-and-thirty. The one nobody will believe; the other every-body. My Lord G. I can tell you, fares well in Mr. Selby's company.
'Lucy, my dear girl, take the pen—You don't know you say, what I wrote last—Read it, my girl—You have it—Take the pen; I want to be among them.'
(Lucy.) Lady G. must have her jest, whether in the right place, or not. Excuse me, both Sisters. How could she, however, in a part so interesting? She says, I must give an account of the Procession, and she will conduct them into the Church; I out of it. I cannot, she says, after so many wishes, so many suspenses, so much expectation, before it came to this, be too minute. Every woman's heart leaps, she says, when a Wedding is described; and wishes to know all, how and about it. Your Ladyship will know, that these words are Lady G's own: But what can I say of the Procession?
The poor Harriet—Fie upon me—The rich Harriet, was not sorry, I believe, that her uncle's head, now on this side, now on the other, in a manner, filled the Coach: but when it stopped at the Churchyard, an inclosed one, whose walls keep off coaches near a stone's throw from the Church-porch, then was my lovely cousin put to it; especially as her grandmother walked so slow. We were all out of our Coaches before the Father and the Bride entered the Porch. I should tell your Ladyship, that the passage from the entrance of the Church-yard to the Church is railed in. Every Sunday the crowd (gathered to see the gentry go in and come out) are accustomed to be bounded by these rails and were the more contentedly so now: The whole Church-yard seemed one mass (but for that separating passage) of living matter, distinguished only by separate heads; not a hat on the mens; pulled off, perhaps, by general consent, for the convenience of seeing, more than from designed regard in that particular. But, in the main, never was there such silent respect shown, on the like occasion, by mortal mob. We all of us, Lady L. have the happiness of being beloved by high and low.
But one pretty spectacle it is impossible to pass by. Four girls, tenants daughters, the eldest not above Thirteen, appeared with neat wicker-baskets in their hands, filled with flowers of the season. Cheerful way was made for them. As soon as the Bride, and Father, and Sir Charles, and Mrs. Shirley, alighted, these pretty little Flora's, all dressed in white, chaplets of flowers for head-dresses, large nosegays in their bosoms, white ribands adorning their stays and their baskets; some streaming down, others tied round the handles in true-lover's knots; attended the company, two going before, two other here and there, and every-where, all strewing flowers: A pretty thought of the tenants among themselves. Sir Charles seemed much pleased with them: Pretty dears he called them, to one of them.
God bless you, and God bless you, was echoed from many mouths. Your brother's attention was chiefly employed on Mrs. Shirley, because of her age and lameness. Here my good Lady G. perhaps would stop to remark upon the worthy nature of the English populace, when good characters attract their admiration; for even the populace took notice, how right a thing it was for the finest young Gentleman their eyes ever beheld, to take such care of so good an old Lady. He deserved to live to be old himself, one said: They would warrant, others said, that he was a sweet-temper'd man; and others, that he had a good heart. In the Procession one of us picked up one praise, another another. Tho' Lady G. Lady W. and the four Bride-maids, as well as the Lords, might have claimed high notice; yet not any of them received more than commendation: We were all considered but as Satellites to the Planets that passed before us. What, indeed, were more? But let me say, that Mrs. Shirley had her share in Reverence, as the lovely Couple had theirs in Admiration. But O how my dear cousin was affected, when she alighted from her uncle's coach!
The Churchwardens themselves were so complaisant as to stand at the Church-door, and opened it, on the approach of the Bride, and her Nuptial Father. But all the pews near the Altar were, however, filled (one or two excepted, which seemed to be left for the company) with Ladies and well-dressed women of the neighbourhood: And tho' they seemed to intend to shut the doors after we had all got in, the Church was full of people. Mr. Selby was displeased, for his Niece's sake; who trembling, could hardly walk up to the Altar. Sir Charles seated his venerable charge on a covered bench on the left-side of the Altar; and by her, and on another covered bench on the right side, without the rails, we all, but the Bride-maids and their partners, took our seats. They stood, the Men on the Bridegroom's side; the Maids on Harriet's—Never—
(Lady G.) 'Are you within the Church, Lucy?—You are, I protest. Let me read what you have done. Come, pretty well, pretty well.—You were going to praise my brother: Leave that to me. I have an excellent knack at it.'
Never was man so much, and so deservedly, admired. He saw his Harriet wanted support and encouragement. The Minister stood suspended, a few moments, as doubting whether she would not faint. My dearest Love, whispered Sir Charles, remember you are doing honour to the happy, thrice happy, man of your Choice: Show he is your Choice, in the face of this Congregation. Pardon me, Sir! I will endeavour to be all you wish me.
Sir Charles bowed to the Minister to begin the Sacred Office. Mr. Selby, with all his bravery, trembled, and, overcome by the Solemnity of the Preparation, looked now pale, now red. The whole Congregation were hushed and silent, as if nobody were in the Church but persons immediately concerned to be there. Emily changed colour frequently. She had her handkerchief in her hand; and (pretty enough!) her sister Bride-maids, little thinking that Emily had a reason for her emotion, which none of them had, pulled out their handkerchiefs too, and permitted a gentle tear or two to steal down their glowing cheeks. I fixed my eye on Emily, sitting outward, to keep her in order. The Doctor began—'Dearly Beloved'—Ah, Harriet! thought I; thou art much quieter now, than once thou wert at these words (Note: When Sir Hargrave Pollexfen would have compelled her to be his).
No impediments were confessed by either of the parties, when they were referred to by the Minister, on this head. I suppose this reference would have been omitted by Sir Hargrave's snuffling Parson. To the question, to my brother, 'Wilt thou have,' &c. he cheerfully answered, I will. Harriet did not say, I will not. 'Who giveth this woman, &c. I, I, I, said uncle Selby; and he owns, that he had much ado to refrain saying—'With all my heart and soul!’ Sir Charles seemed to have the office by heart; Harriet in her heart: For before the Minister could take the Right-hand of the good girl to put it into that of my brother, his hand knew its office; nor did her trembling hand decline the favour. Then followed the words of acceptance; 'I Charles, take thee, Harriet,' &c. on his part; which he audibly, and with apparent joy and reverence in his countenance, repeated after the Minister. But not quite so alert was Harriet, in her turn: Her hand was rather taken, than offered. Her lips, however, moved after the Minister; nor seemed to hesitate at the little piddling word obey, which, I remember, gave a qualm to my poor heart, on the like occasion. The Ring was presented. The Doctor gave it to Sir Charles; who, with his usual grace, put it on the finger of the most charming woman in England; repeating after the Minister, audibly, 'With this Ring I thee wed,' &c. She brightened up; when the Minister, joining their Right-hands, read, 'Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.' And the Minister's address to the company, declaring the Marriage, and pronouncing them Man and Wife, in the name of the Holy Trinity; and his blessing them; swelled, she owns, her grateful heart, ready to bursting. In the Responses, I could not but observe, that the Congregation generally joined, as if they were interested in the celebration.
Sir Charles, with a joy that lighted up a more charming flush than usual on his face, his lively Soul looking out at his fine eyes, yet with an air as modest as respectful, did credit to our Sex before the applauding multitude, by bending his knee to his sweet Bride, on taking her Hand, and saluting her, on the conclusion of the ceremony—May God, my dearest Life, said he, audibly, be gracious to your Grandison, as he will be good to his Harriet, now no more Byron!—She curtsied low, and with so modest a grace, that every soul blessed her; and pronounced her the loveliest of women, and him the most graceful and polite of men.
He invited Dr. Curtis to the Wedding-dinner, and led his Bride into the Vestry; where already were her grandmother, her aunt, Lady W. her Lord, mine, and Lord L. She was followed by her Virgin train; they by their partners. She threw herself, the moment she beheld her grandmother, at her feet. Bless, bless madam, your happy, happy Child.
God for ever bless the Darling of my heart!
Sir Charles bent his knee to the venerable Lady, with such a condescending dignity, if I may so express myself; Receive and bless, also, your Son, my Harriet's reverend parent, and mine.
The dear Lady was affected. She slid off her seat on her knees, and with up-lifted hands and eyes, tears trickling on her cheeks; Thou, Almighty, bless the dear Son of my wishes!
He raised her, with pious tenderness, and saluted her. Excellent Lady!—He would have said more, but was affected—Every-body was—And having seated the old Lady, he turned to Mrs. Selby—Words are poor, said he; my actions, my behaviour, shall speak the grateful sense I have of your goodness, saluting her; of yours, madam, to Mrs. Shirley; and of yours, my dearest Life, addressing himself to his lovely Bride, who seemed hardly able to sustain her joy, on so respectful a recognition of relation to persons so dear to her. Let me once more, added he, bless the Hand that has blessed me!
She cheerfully offered it: I give you, Sir, my Hand, said she, curtsying, and with it a poor Heart—A poor Heart, indeed! But it is a grateful one! It is all your own!
He bowed upon her Hand: He spoke not: He seemed as if he could not speak.
Joy, Joy, Joy, was wished the Happy Pair, from every mouth. 'See, my dear young Ladies,' said the happy and instructing Mr. Shirley, addressing herself to them, 'the Reward of Duty, Virtue, and Obedience! How unhappy must those Parents and Relations be, whose Daughters, unlike our Harriet, have disgraced themselves, and their families, by a a shameful Choice—As my Harriet's is, such, looking around her, be your Lot, my amiable Daughters!
They every one besought her Hand, and kissed it; and some by speech, all by looks and curtsies, promised to cherish the memory of this happy transaction, for their benefit.
Emily, when she approached the venerable Lady, sobbing, said, Bless me, me also bless, my dear grandmamma Shirley!—Let me be your own Granddaughter.—She embraced and blessed the dear girl—Ah, my Love! said she, But will you supply the place of my Harriet to me? Will you be my Harriet? Will you live with me, and Mrs. Selby—as Harriet did?—Emily started. Ah, madam! you are all goodness! Let me try to make myself, in some little way, agreeable to my dear Miss Byron that was, and live a little while in the sun-shine of my Guardian's eye; and then how proud shall I be to be thought, in any the least degree, like your Harriet!
This I thought a good hint of Mrs. Shirley. Our Harriet (my dear Caroline) shall not be made unhappy by the chit; nor shall the dear girl neither, if I can help it, be made so by her own foible. We will watch over both, for the good of both, and for the tranquillity of the best of men.
Beauchamp's joy shone through a cloud, because of his Father's illness; but it did shine.
Mr. Selby and my Lord were vastly alive. Lord L. was fervent in his joy, and congratulations; but he was wiser than both put together. Nothing was wanting to show that he was excessively pleased; but I was afraid the other two would not have considered the Vestry as part of the Church; and would have struck up a tune without music.
How sincerely joyful, also, were Lord and Lady W! My Lord's eyes burst into tears more than once: Nephew, and dear Nephew, at every word, whether speaking of or to my brother; as if he thought the Relation he stood in to him, a greater glory than his Peerage, or aught else that he valued himself upon, his excellent Lady excepted.
Upon my Honour, Caroline, I think, as I have often said, that people may be very happy, if not most happy, who set out with a moderate stock of Love, and supply what they want in that, with Prudence. I really think, that my Brother and Harriet cannot be happier than are this now worthy Couple; times of life considered on both sides, and my Lord's inferior capacity allowed for. For certainly, men of sense are most capable of joyful sensations, and have their balances; since it is as certain, that they are also most susceptible of painful ones. What, then, is the stuff, the nonsense, that romantic girls, their romancing part of life not wholly elapsed, prate about, and din one's ears with, of first Love, first Flame, but first Folly? Do not most of such give indication of gunpowder constitutions, that want but the match to be applied, to set them into a blaze? Souls of tinder, discretions of flimsy gauze, that conceal not their folly—One day they will think as I do; and perhaps before they have daughters who will convince them of the truth of my assertion.
But here comes Lucy.— 'My dear girl, take the pen—I am too sentimental. The French only are proud of sentiments at this day; the English cannot bear them: Story, story, story, is what they hunt after, whether sense or nonsense, probable or improbable.'
(Lucy.) 'Bless me, Lady G! you have written a great deal in a little. What am I to do?
(Lady G.) You brought the Happy Pair into Church. I have told Lady L. what was done there: You are to carry them out.
(Lucy.) 'And so I will.'—My dearest Love, said her charming man to my cousin, who had a little panic on the thought of going back through so great a crowd, imagine, as you walk, that you see nobody but the happy man whom you have honoured with your Hand: Every-body will praise and admire the loveliest of women. Nobody I hope, will blame your Choice. Remember at whose request it was, that you are put upon this difficulty: Your Grandmamma's and Uncle's. She, one of the best of women, was so married to one the best of men: I was but acquiescent in it. Show, my dearest Life, all your numerous admirers and well-wishers, that you are not ashamed of your Choice.
O Sir! how charmingly do you strengthen my mind! I will show the world, that my Choice is my Glory.
Every-body being ready, she gave her Hand to the Beloved of her Heart.
The Bells were set a ringing the moment the Solemnity was concluded; and Sir Charles Grandison, the Son of our venerable Mrs. Shirley, the Nephew of my uncle and aunt Selby, Husband of my dear and ever-dear Harriet, and the Esteemed of every heart, led his graceful Bride through a lane of applauding and decent behaving spectators, down through the Church—and still more thronging multitudes in the Church-yard; the four little Flora's again strewing flowers at their feet, as they passed. My sweet girls, said he, to two of them, I charge you, complete the honour you have done us, by your presence at Selby-house: You will bring your companions with you, my Loves.
My uncle looked around him as he led Mrs. Shirley: So proud! and so stately! By some undesigned change, Mr. Beauchamp led Miss Jervois. She seemed pleased, and happy; for he whispered to her, all the way, praises of her Guardian. My Guardian, twice or thrice, occasionally reported she aloud, as if she boasted of standing in some relation to him.
The Bride and Bridegroom stopped for Mrs. Shirley, a little while, at the Coach-side: A very grateful accident to the spectators. He led them both in, with a politeness that attends him in all he does. The Coach wheeled off, to give way to the next; and we came back in the order we went.
'Now, my dear Lady G. you, who never were from the side of your dear new sister for the rest of the day, resume the pen.'
(Lady G.) 'I will, my dear; but in a new Letter. This fourth sheet is written down to the very edge. Caroline will be impatient: I will send away this.'
Joy to my Sister! Joy to my Aunt! Joy to the Earl! To Lady Gertrude! To our dear Dr. Bartlett! To every one, on an event so happy; and so long wished for by us All!
'Sign, Lucy, sign.'
'After your Ladyship.'
There, then, CHARLOTTE G.
Volume VI - lettera 50
Volume VI - Letter 51
LADY G. TO LADY L. IN CONTINUATION.
This happy event has been so long wished for by us all; were so much delighted with the Bride, as well as the Bridegroom; so many uncertainties, so many suspenses, have fallen in; so little likelihood once that it ever would have been; and you are so miserably tied by the leg, poor Caroline! and so little to divert you, besides the once smiling to the ten times squalling of your little stranger; that Compassion, Love, both, incite me to be minute; that so you may be as much with us in idea, as we all wished you could have been in person.
Crowds of people lined the way, in our return from Church, as well as in our way to it; and blessings were pronounced upon the Happy Pair, by hundreds, at their alighting at Selby-house.
When we were all assembled in the Great Hall, mutual congratulations flowed from every mouth: Then did every man salute the happy, happy Bride: Then did the equally-happy Bridegroom salute every Lady—There was among us the height of joy; joy becoming the awful Solemnity; and every one was full of the decency and delight which were given and shown by the crowds of spectators of all ranks, and both Sexes; a delight and decency worthy of the characters of the admirable Pair: And Miss Nedham declared, and all the young Ladies joined with her, that if she could be secure of the like good behaviour and encouragement, she would never think of a Private Wedding for herself. Mr. Selby himself was overjoyed too much, even to utter a jest! Now, now, he said, he had attained the height of his ambition.
The dear Harriet could look up: She could smile around her. I led her, with Lucy, into the Cedar-parlour—Now, my dear Love, said I, the moment we entered it, throwing my arms about her, just as her lips were joyfully opening to speak to me, do I salute my real Sister, my Sister Grandison, in my dear Lady L's name, as well as in my own: God Almighty confirm and establish your happiness!
My dearest, dearest Lady G. how grateful, how encouraging, to my heart, is your kind Salutation! Your continued Love, and that of my dear Lady L. will be essential to my happiness.
May our Hearts be ever united! replied I. But they must: For were not our Minds kindred Minds before?
But you must love my Lucy, said she, presenting her to me.—You must love my Grand-—Mamma, said I, catching the word from her, your Aunt, your Uncle, your Cousins, and your Cousins Cousins, to the twentieth Generation—And so I will: Ours yours; Yours ours! We are all of one Family, and will be for ever.
What a happy creature am I! replied she—How many people can one good man make so!—But where, where is my Emily, sweet girl? Bring to me, Lucy, bring to me, my Emily!
Lucy went out, and led in the sweet girl. With hands and eyes uplifted, My dear Miss Byron, that was, now Lady Grandison, said she, love me; love your Emily. I am now your Emily, your Ward; love me as well as you did when Miss Byron.
Harriet threw her arms about her neck; I do, I will, I must: You shall be my Sister, my Friend; my Emily now, indeed! Love me, as I will love you; and you shall find your happiness in mine.
Sir Charles entered; his Beauchamp in his hand. Quitting his, and taking hers, he kissed it. Once more, said he, do I thank my dearest Life for the honour she has done me: Then resuming, with his other hand, his Beauchamp's, he presented each to the other, as Brother and Sister.
Beauchamp, in a graceful manner, bowed on her hand: She curtsied to him with an air of dignity and esteem.
He then turning to Emily; Acknowledge, my dear, said he, your elder Sister: My Harriet will love her Emily. Receive, my dearest Life, your Ward. Yet (to Emily) I acquit not myself of the power, any more than of the will, of obliging you at first hand.
O Sir! said the sobbing girl, you are all goodness! But I will make no request to you, but through my dearest Lady Grandison's mediation. If she approve of it first, I shall not doubt of its fitness to be complied with.
Was not that pretty, in Emily?—O how Beauchamp's eyes loved her!
But why, Ladies, said Sir Charles, do you sequester yourselves from the company? Are we not all of a Family to-day? The four little Flora's, with their baskets in their hands, were entering the gate, as I came in: Receive them, my Love, with your usual graciousness. We will join the company, and call them in. My Beauchamp, you are a Brideman; restore my Bride to her friends and admirers within.
He took Emily's hand. She looked so proud!—Harriet gave hers to Beauchamp. We followed them into the Great Hall: Mr. Selby had archness in his look, and seemed ready to blame us for withdrawing.—Sir Charles was aware of him. My dear Mr. Selby, said he, Will you not allow us to see the pretty Flora's—By all means, said Mr. Selby; and hurried out, and introduced them. Sweet pretty girls! We had more leisure to consider the elegant rusticity of their dresses and appearance. They had their baskets in their hands, and a curtsy and a blush ready for every one in company. Sir Charles seemed to expect that his Bride would take notice of them first; but observing that she wanted presence of mind, he stepped to them, took each by the hand, the youngest first, called them pretty Loves; I wish, said he, I could present you with as pretty flowers as you threw away in honour to this company; putting into each basket, wrapped up in paper, five guineas: Then presented them, two in each hand, to his Bride; who, by that time, was better prepared to receive them with that sweet ease and familiarity which give grace to all she says and does.
The children afterwards desiring to go to their parents, the polite Beauchamp himself, accompanied by Lucy, led them to them, and returned, with a request from all the tenants, that they might have the honour, some time in the day, to see the Bride and Bridegroom among them, were it but for two minutes. What says my Love? said Sir Charles. O, Sir! I cannot, cannot—Well, then, I will attend them, to make your excuse, as well as I can. She bowed her thanks.
The time before dinner was devoted to conversation. Sir Charles was nobody's; no, not very particularly his Bride's: He put every one upon speaking in turn. For about half an hour he sat between the joyful Mrs. Shirley and Mrs. Selby; but even then, in talking to them, talked to the whole company: Yet, in his air and manner to both, showed so much respect, as needed not the aid of a particular address to them in words.
This was observed to me by good Lord L. For Harriet (uneasy, every eye continually upon her, thoughtful, bashful) withdrawing, a little before dinner, with a cast of her eye to me, I followed her to her dressing-room. There, with so much expressiveness of meaning, tho' not of language; so much tenderness of love; so much pious gratitude; so much true virgin sensibility; did she open her heart to me; that I shall ever revolve what passed in that conversation, as the true criterion of Virgin Delicacy unmingled with Affectation. Nor was I displeased that, in the height of her grateful Self-congratulation, she more than once acknowledged a sigh for the admirable Clementina. We just began to express our pleasure and our hopes in the good behaviour of our Emily, when we were called to dinner.
It was a sumptuous one.
Mr. Selby was very orderly, upon the whole: But he remembered, he said, that when he was married (and he called upon his Dame to confirm it) he was obliged to wait on his Bride, and the Company; and he insisted upon it, that Sir Charles should.
No, no, no, every one said; and the Bride looked a little serious upon it: But Sir Charles, with an air of gaiety that infinitely became him, took a napkin from the butler; and putting it under his arm, I have only one request to make you, my dear Mr. Selby—When I am more awkward than I ought to be, do you correct me: and I shall have both pride and pleasure in the task.
Adad! said Mr. Selby, looking at him with pleasure—You may be any-thing, do any-thing; you cannot conceal the Gentleman. Ads-heart, you must always be the first man in company—Pardon me, my Lords.
Sir Charles was the modestest servitor that ever waited at table, while his napkin was under his arm: But he laid it down, While he addressed himself to the company, finding something to say to each in his pithy, agreeable manner, as he went round the table. He made every one happy. With what delight did the elder Ladies look upon him, when he addressed himself to each of them! He stopped at the Bride's chair, and made her a compliment with an air of tenderness. I heard not what it was, sitting at distance; but she looked grateful, pleased; smiled, and blushed. He passed from her to the Bride-maids, and again complimented each of them. They also seemed delighted with what he said. Then going to Mr. Selby; Why don't you bid me resume the napkin, Sir?—No, no; we see what you can do: Your conformity is enough for me. You may now sit down, when you please. You make the waiters look awkward.
He took his seat, thanked Mr. Selby for having reminded him of his duty, as he called it, and was all Himself, the most graceful and obliging of men.
You know, my dear Lady L. how much I love to praise my brother. Neither I, nor the young Ladies, not even those who had humble servants present, regarded any-body but him. My poor Lord!—I am glad, however, that he has a tolerable good set of teeth—They were always visible. A good honest sort of man, tho', Lady L. whatever you may think of him.
After dinner, at Mr. Selby's reminding motion, Sir Charles and the men went to the tenants. They all wished him joy; and, as they would not sit down, while he stood, Sir Charles took a seat among them, and all the rest followed his example.
One of the honest men, it seems, remembered the Nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Byron, and praised them as the best and happiest of the human race: Others confirmed his character of both: Another knew the late Mr. Shirley, and extolled him as much: Another remembered the birth, another the christening, of the Bride; and others talked of what an excellent creature she was from her infancy. Let me tell you, Sir, said one grey-headed man, you will have much ado to deserve her; and yet you are said to be as good as you are handsome. The women took up the cause: They were sure, by what they had heard, if any man in the world could deserve the Bride, it was Sir Charles Grandison; and they would swear for him by his looks. One of the honest men said, they should all have taken it as an hugeous favour, were they allowed to wish the Bride joy, tho' at ever so great a distance.
Sir Charles said, He was sure the women would excuse her this day; and then the men would, in complaisance to them. We will hope, said he, looking all round him, before we leave Northamptonshire, for one happy dinner together.
They all got up to bow and curtsy, and looked upon each other; and the men, who are most of them freeholders, wished to the Lord for a new election, and that he would come among them. They had no great matter of fault to find, they said, with their present representatives: but any-body who would oppose Sir Charles Grandison, would stand no chance. The women joined in the declaration, as if they thought highly, as Sir Charles pleasantly observed, of their own influence over their husbands. They all wondered that he was not in Parliament, till they heard how little a while he had been in England.
He took leave of the good people (who, by their behaviour and appearance, did as much credit to their landlords as to themselves) with his usual affability and politeness; repeating his promise of a day of Jubilee, as some of them called it.
The Ball, at the request of the whole company, was opened by the Bride and Bridegroom. She was very uneasy at the general Call. Sir Charles saw she was, and would have taken out Miss Nedham; but it was not permitted. The dear creature, I believe, did her best at the time; but I have seen her perform better: Yet she did exceedingly well. But such a figure herself, and such a partner; How could she do amiss?
Emily was taken out by Beauchamp. He did his best, I am sure; and almost as much excelled his pretty partner, as his beloved friend did his.
Emily, sitting down by me, asked if she did not perform very ill. Not very ill, my dear, said I; but not so well as I have seen you dance. I don't know, said she, what ails me: My heart is very heavy, madam. What can be the meaning of it? But don't tell Lady Grandison so.—High-ho!—Lady Grandison! What a sound is that? A charming sound! But how shall I bring my lips to be familiarised to it?
You are glad she is married, my love, I dare say?
Glad! To be sure I am! It is an event that I have long, long wished for: But new names, and new titles, one knows not how to frame one's mouth to presently. It was some time before I could call you Lady G. But don't you pity poor Lady Clementina, a little, madam?
A great deal, I do. But as she refused my brother—
Ah! dear! that's the thing! I wonder she could—when he would have let her have the free exercise of her Religion.
Had you rather your Guardian had had Lady Clementina, Emily?
O no! How can you ask me such a question, madam? Of all the women in the world, I wished him to have Miss Byron. But she is too happy for pity, you know, madam!—Bless me! What does she look so thoughtful for? Why does she sigh so? Surely she can't be sorry!
Sorry! No, my Love! But a change of condition for life! New attachments! A new course of life! Her name sunk, and lost! The property, person and will, of another, excellent as the man is; obliged to go to a new house; to be ingrafted into a new family; to leave her own, who so dearly love her; an irrevocable destiny!—Do you think, Emily, new in her present circumstances; every eye upon her: it is not enough to make a considerate mind, as hers is, thoughtful!
All these are mighty hardships, madam! putting up her lip—But, Lady G. can you suppose she thinks them so? If she does—But she is a dear good Lady!—I shall ever love her! She is an ornament of our Sex! See, how lovely she looks! Did your Ladyship ever see so sweet a creature? I never did.
Not for Beauty, Dignity, Ease, Figure, Modesty, good Sense, did I ever.
She is my Guardianess, may I say? Is there such a word?—I shall be as proud of her, as I am of my Guardian. Yet there is no cause of sighing, I think!—See my Guardian! her Husband? Unfashionable as the word is, it is a pretty word. The House-band, that ties all together. Is not that the meaning?—Look round! How does he surpass all men!—His Ease, talk of Ease! His Dignity, talk of Dignity! As handsome a man, as she is a woman! See how every young Lady eyes him; every young Gentleman endeavours to imitate him. I wish he would take me out: I would do better.
This was the substance of the whispering Dialogue that passed between Emily and me—Poor girl!
Mr. Selby danced with Lucy, and got great applause. He was resolved, he said, to have one dance with the Bride. She besought him not to think of it. Her grandmamma, her aunt, intreated for her. She desired Sir Charles to interpose—If, my dearest Life, you could oblige your uncle—I cannot, cannot think of it, said she.
Lady G. said Sir Charles, be so good as to challenge Mr. Selby. I stood forth, and offered my hand to him. He could not refuse it. He did not perform so well as he did with Lucy. Go, said I, when we had done, sit down by your Dame, and be quiet: You have lost all your credit. You dance with a Bride!—Some people know not how to bear applause; nor to leave off when they are well. Lord L. took out Mrs. Selby. She dances very gracefully. My Lord, you know, is above praise. The young Lord Reresby and Miss Nedham distinguished themselves. My odd creature was in his element. He and Miss Barclay, and another time he and Emily, did very handsomely; and the girl got up her reputation. Lord W. did hobble, and not ungracefully, with old Mrs. Selby; who had not danced, she said, for twenty years before; but on so joyful an occasion, would not refuse Lord W's challenge: And both were applauded; the time of life of the Lady, the limpingness of my Lord, considered.
There was a very plentiful sideboard, of rich wines, sweetmeats, &c. We all disclaimed formal supper.
We went afterwards into country dances. Mrs. Shirley retired about Ten. Harriet took the opportunity of attending her; and it was a seasonable relief to her. I had an intimation to attend her. I found her just dropped on her knees to her grandmamma; who, with her arms about her neck, was folding to her fond heart the darling of it. The sweet girl was so apprehensive! I was called upon to give my opinion, whether she should return to the company, or not: I gave it, that she should; and that she should only retire, for the night, about Eleven. As to the Bride-maids, I said, I would manage, that they should only attend her to her chamber, and leave her there, with her aunt, Lucy, and me. Lord L. undertook to make the gentlemen give up form; which, he said, they would the more easily do, as they were set into dancing.
After all, Lady L. we women, dressed out in ribands, and gaudy trappings, and in Virgin-white, on our Wedding-days, seem but like milk-white heifers led to sacrifice. We ought to be indulged, if we are not shameless things, and very wrong indeed, in our choice of the man we can love.
We returned to company. The Bridegroom was looking out for us. My dearest Life, said he, Are you returned?—I thought—There he stopped.
Mr. Selby broke from his partner, Miss Barclay, to whisk into the figure the Bride. Sir Charles joined the deserted Lady, who seemed much better pleased with her new partner than with her old one. Lord W. who was sitting down, took Mrs. Selby, and led her into the dance.
I drew Miss Nedham to the sideboard, and gave her her cue: She gave theirs to the three other Bride-maids.
About Eleven, Mrs. Selby, unobserved, withdrew with the Bride. The Bride-maids, one by one, waited on her to her chamber; saluted her, and returned to company.
The dear creature wanted presence of mind. She fell into my reflexion above. O my dear Lady G! said she, was I not right when I declared, that I never would marry, were it not to the man I loved above all the men in the world?
She complimented me twenty times, with being very good. She prayed for me; but her prayers were meant for herself. You remember, that she told me, on my apprehensiveness on the like occasion, that fear made me loving to her. On her blessing me, Ah, Harriet, said I, you now find, that apprehension will make one pious, as well as loving.
My Sister, my Friend, my own, my Caroline's, my Brother's, dear Lady Grandison! said I, when I left her, near undressed, God bless you! And God be praised, that I can call you by these tender names! My Brother is the happiest of men; You of women. May we never love each other less than we do now. Look forward to the serene happiness of your future lot. If you are the Joy of our Brother, you must be our Joy; and the Jewel of our Family.
She answered me only by a fervent embrace, her eyes lifted up, surcharged, as I may say, with tears of joy, as in thankfulness.
I then rushed down-stairs, and into the company.
My brother instantly addressed me—My Harriet, whispered he, with impatience, returns not this night.
You will see Mrs. Selby, I presume, by-and-by, returned I.
He took his seat by old Mrs. Selby, and fell into talk with her, to avoid joining in the dances. His eye was continually turned to the door. Mrs. Selby, at last, came in. Her eyes showed the tender leave she had taken of her Harriet.
My brother approached her. She went out: He followed her. In a quarter of an hour she returned.
We saw my brother no more that night.
We continued our dancings till between Three and Four.
I have often observed, that we women, whether weakly or robust, are hardly ever tired with dancing. It was so with us. The men, poor souls! looked silly, and sleepy, by two; all but my ape: He has a good many Femalities, as uncle Selby calls them. But he was brought up to be idle and useless, as women generally are. I must conclude my Letters whimsically, my dear: If I did not, you would not know them to be written by
Your CHARLOTTE G.
Volume VI - lettera 51
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