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THE HISTORY OF
Volume VII - Letter 41
LADY GRANDISON. IN CONTINUATION.
Thursday morn, March 29.
Now for particulars of what passed yesterday. Sir Charles is gone to Grosvenor-Square, to enquire after the health and composure of his noble guests there.
When I called upon Lady Clementina yesterday, five o'clock, I found her greatly distressed with her own apprehensions. I must, said she to me, be a guiltier creature than I had allowed myself to think I was: Why else am I so ashamed, so afraid, to see parents whom I ever honoured, brothers and friends whom I ever loved?—O Lady Grandison! What a dispiriting thing is the consciousness of having done amiss! And to a proud heart too!
Then looking upon the written plan, Let me see, said she, what I am to sign. These were the remarks she made upon them, as she read:
(1.) Hard, hard article, the first! But your Grandison, madam, my fourth brother, my friend, my protector, tells me, that I shall discharge all the obligations he ever laid upon me, if I will sign it.—I submit.
(2.) How flattering to my pride; to my hopes of doing good to the indigent and unhappy!
(3.) Nominating my attendants—my confessor—Kind, considerate Grandison! If I give up the first wish of my heart, I shall not insist upon these stipulations in my favour. My parents shall have, in these cases, affirmative and negative too. Indeed I desire not in any article to be independent of them.
(4.) A grateful article! I acknowledge, Chevalier, your protection with gratitude, in this stipulation.
(5.) If my friends promise, they will perform. Ours is a family of untainted honour. I hope my Brother Giacomo will be answered for by his Brothers in these articles: But he will hate me, I fear.
Generous Grandison! what tempting proposals do you conclude with! And you, Lady Grandison, are so good as to say, that my happiness is wanting to complete yours—That is a motive, I assure you. Lead me, madam, and do you, my dear Lady L. (my hospitable other protectress) oblige me with your countenance too. A woman of your honour and goodness, Sister of the Chevalier Grandison, acknowledging me your guest, and answering for my behaviour, will credit the abject Clementina in the eyes of her forgiving relations.—Sir Charles Grandison there before me, to prepare them to receive graciously the fugitive!—Lead me on, while I can be led: I will attend you.
She looked wild and disordered; and, giving each of us a hand, we led her to the coach. But, at stepping in, she trembled, faltered, and seemed greatly disturbed. We consoled her all we could; and the coach drove to Grosvenor-Square. When it stopped, she threw her arms about Lady L. and, hiding her face in her bosom, called upon the Blessed Virgin to support her—How, how, said she, can I look my Father, my Mother, in the face!
Sir Charles, on the coach stopping, appeared. He saw her emotion. It is kind, my Harriet! It is kind, Lady L. to accompany Lady Clementina.—Your goodness will be rewarded in being eye-witnesses of the most gracious reception that ever indulgent parents gave to a long absent daughter.
Ah, Chevalier! was all she could say.
Let me conduct you, dearest Lady Clementina, into a drawing-room, where you will see no other person but whom you now see, till your recovered spirits shall rejoice the dearest of friends.
I was afraid she was too much discomposed to attend to this considerate expedient. I repeated, therefore, what Sir Charles last said. She was visibly encouraged by it. She gave him her trembling hand; and he led her into the prepared drawing-room. Lady L. and I followed, and took our seats on each hand of her; Sir Charles his over-against her. Our offered salts, and soothing, with difficulty kept her from fainting.
When she was a little revived—Hush! said she, with her finger held up, and wildness in her looks, casting her eyes to the doors and windows in turn: They will hear us!—Further recovering herself—O Chevalier! said she, what shall I say? How shall I look? What shall I do?—And am I, am I, indeed, in the same house with my Father, Mother, Jeronymo? Who else? Who else? with quickness.
It is so ordered, my dearest Clementina, said Sir Charles, in love and tenderness to you, that you shall only see your Mother first; then your Father—At your own pleasure, your Brothers, Mrs. Beaumont, Father Marescotti.
Sir Charles was sent for out—Don't, don't leave me, Sir. Then looking to Lady L. and then to me—You are all goodness, Ladies—Don't leave me.
Sir Charles instantly returned: Your Mamma, madam, all indulgence, is impatient to fold you to her heart. What joy will you give her?
He offered his hand. She gave him hers; motioning for out attendance. Sir Charles led her, we following, into the room where was her expecting Mother. The moment each saw the other, they ran with open arms to each other. O my Mamma!—My Clementina!—was all that either could say. They sunk down on the floor, the Mother's arms about the Daughter's neck; the Daughter's about the Mother's waist.
Sir Charles lifted them up, and seated them close to each other—Pardon! Pardon! Pardon! said the dear Lady, hands and eyes lifted up, sliding out of her Mother's arms on her knees—But at that moment could say no more.
The Marquis, not being able longer to contain himself, rushed in—My Daughter! my Child! my Clementina! Once more do I see my Child!
Sir Charles had half-lifted her up, when her Father entered. She sunk down again, prostrate on the floor, her arms extended: O my Father! Forgive!—Forgive me, O my Father!
He raised her up, by Sir Charles's assistance; and, seating her between himself and his Lady, both again wrapped their arms about her. She repeated prayers for forgiveness, in broken accents: Blessings, in accents as broken, flowed from their hearts to their lips.
After the first emotions, when they could speak, and she now-and-then could look up, which she did by snatches, as it were, her eyes presently falling under theirs, Behold, madam, Behold, my Lord, said she, the hospitable Lady to whom—Looking at Lady L. Behold, looking at me, a more than woman; an Angel—More she would have said; but seemed at a loss for words.
We have before seen and admired, said the Marquis, in Lady Grandison, the noblest of all women.
He arose to approach us: Sir Charles led us both to them.
Lady Clementina snatched first my hand, and eagerly pressed it with her lips; then Lady L's: Her heart was full: She seemed to want to speak; but could not: And Lady L. and I, with overflowing eyes, congratulated the Father, Mother, Daughter; and were blessed in speech by the two former; by hands and eyes lifted up, by Lady Clementina.
Sir Charles then withdrawing, returned with the Bishop, and Signor Jeronymo. It is hard to say, whether these two Lords showed more joy, than Clementina did shame and confusion. She offered at begging pardon: But the Bishop said, Not one word of past afflictions! Nobody is in fault. We are all happy once more; and happy on the conditions prescribed to both by this friend of mankind in general, and of our family in particular.
My ever noble, my venerable brother, said Jeronymo (who had clasped his Sister to his fond heart, his eyes running over) how I love you for this uncalled for assurance to the dear Clementina! Every article of my Grandison's plan shall be carried into execution. We will rejoice with the Chevalier in his England—And he, and all who are dear to him, shall accompany us to Italy. We will be all one family.
Sir Charles then introduced to the Lady his greatly and justly esteemed Mrs. Beaumont. Clementina threw herself into her arms. Forgive me, my dear Mrs. Beaumont! If you forgive me, Virtue will. Pardon the poor creature, who never, never, would have so much disgraced your lessons, and her mamma's example, as she has done, had not a heavy cloud darkened her unhappy mind. Say you forgive me, as the best and most indulgent of parents, and the kindest of brothers, have done.
It was not your fault, my dear Lady Clementina, but your misfortune. You never was so much to be blamed as pitied. All here are of one sentiment. We came over to heal your wounded mind: Be it healed, and every one will be happy; yes, more happy perhaps (for now we all understand one another,) than if you had not left us to mourn your absence.
Blessed be my Comforter, my Friend, my beloved Mrs. Beaumont! You always knew how to blunt the keen edge of calamity: What a superior woman are you!
Father Marescotti was introduced by the Marquis himself, with a respect worthy of his piety and goodness. I submit, Father, said Lady Clementina, before he could speak, to any penance you shall inflict.
His voice would not befriend him: His action, however, showed him to be all joy and congratulation.
I have been wicked, very wicked, continued she—But Mrs. Beaumont says, and she says justly, that I merited pity, rather than blame. Yet if you think not so, you, who are the keeper of my conscience, spare me not.
Who, who, said the good man recovering speech, shall condemn, when father, mother, and brothers, so zealous for the honour of their family, acquit! God forgive you, my dearest Lady! And God forgive us all!
My dearest Chevalier Grandison, said Jeronymo, what gratitude, what obligations, do we owe to you, and your admirable Lady and Sisters! Again I acknowledge the obligation for a whole family, from this hour a happy one, I hope.
It had been agreed between the family and Sir Charles, that not a word should be mentioned to Lady Clementina of the Count of Belvedere. They requested Sir Charles to take upon himself the breaking to her, that he was in England, in his own manner, as opportunity should offer.
Every one having been greatly affected, Sir Charles proposed to take leave; and that Lady Clementina should return to Lady L's for that night, as preparation might not have been made for her stay in Grosvenor-Square: But all the family, with one voice, declared they could not part with the restored daughter and sister of their hopes: And she herself cheerfully consented to stay; gratefully, however, with a bent knee, thanking Lady L. for her sisterly treatment.
Who, in the general joy, said Sir Charles, has remembered the good Camilla? Let Camilla congratulate her Lady and all of us, on this happy occasion.
Every-one called out for Camilla. In ran the worthy creature. On her knees she embraced her young Lady's, and wept for joy. Ah! my Camilla, my friend Camilla! said Clementina, clasping her arms about her neck, I have been cruel to you: But it was not I—Alas! alas! I was not always myself—I will endeavour to repair your wrongs.
Thank God that I once more clasp my dear young Lady to my heart!—I have no wrongs to complain of.
Yes, yes, you have, kind Camilla: I wanted to elude your watchful duty; and was too cunning to be just to my Camilla.
Sir Charles forgot not to commend Laura to forgiveness and favour. Laura, said Lady Clementina, is blameless. She obeyed me with reluctance. If I am myself forgiven, forgive Laura.
My dearest Love, said the Marchioness, we have agreed, that you shall choose your own servants. The Chevalier, we have no doubt, had Laura in his thoughts, when he made that stipulation; the English youth too. You, my Clementina, must have it in your power to do with these as you please.
May I be permitted, my Lords, said Sir Charles, to make one request for myself to Lady Clementina; a request which shall be consistent with the articles you will all sign?
I will agree to a request of yours, Chevalier, said the Lady, be it almost what it will.
I will not, madam, make it to-day, nor to-morrow. After the hurry of spirits we have all sustained, let tomorrow be a day of composure. Permit me to expect you all at dinner with me on Friday. The articles then may be signed: And then, but not before, I will mention my request, and hope it will be granted.
Sir Charles's invitation was politely accepted; and to-morrow—
Lady Clementina and Mrs. Beaumont below!—Agreeable surprise!
Sir Charles had been out, and was just come in when the two Ladies alighted. I was overjoyed to see them, and to see Lady Clementina serene, and seemingly not unhappy. We are come, said Mrs. Beaumont, to make our earliest acknowledgements for the happiness restored to a whole family. Lady Clementina could not be easy till she had paid her personal thanks to Lady Grandison, for the support her presence gave her yesterday.
Gratitude, said the Lady, fills my heart: But how, Chevalier, shall I express it? I beseech you, let me know your request. Tell me, dear Lady Grandison, wherein I can oblige my fourth brother?
My dearest Lady Clementina, said Sir Charles, fortify your heart against a gentle (I hope it will then be but a gentle) surprise. You have not yet signed, your Relations have not, I presume, the articles to which you have mutually agreed.
Sir! Chevalier! Sir!
Let me not alarm you, madam.
He put one of her hands in mine; and took the other in a very tender manner, in his.
You intend to sign them?—They do, I am sure. To-morrow, when we are all together, they will be signed on both sides.
I hope so—They will not, Chevalier, be receded from?
They will not, madam: And hence you will be assured, that the Count of Belvedere will never be proposed to you with any degree of urgency.
I hope not, I hope not, said she with quickness.
Should you, madam, on your return to Italy, be unwilling to see the Count as a friend of your family, as a respecter of your great qualities, as a countryman?
I shall always regard the Count of Belvedere as a man of honour, as a friend of my Brother Giacomo, of all our family—But I cannot place him in any other light. What means the Chevalier Grandison? Keep not my mind in suspense.
I will not. Your father, your mother, your brothers, came over in hopes, that you might be prevailed upon in the Count's favour. They have given up that hope—
They have, Sir!
And will absolutely leave you to your own will, to your own wishes, on the condition to which you have agreed to sign—But shall I ask you—Were the Count to be in France, would you allow him to come over, and take leave of your family and you, before he sets out for the court of Madrid?
What, Sir! as a man who had hopes from me of more than my good wishes?
No, madam; only as a friend to the whole family—not requesting any other favour, now he sees you so determined, than your good wishes, your prayers, for him, as you will ever have his for you.
I can consent in that view: But were any other favour to be hoped from me; were my generosity to be expected to be prevailed upon—O Chevalier! Lady Grandison! Mrs. Beaumont! Let me not be attempted in this way: The articles would be broken: This would be persuasion, and that compulsion.
Nothing, madam, of this kind is intended. The articles will be inviolably observed on the part of your relations. But here Mrs. Beaumont, who never intended to set her foot on the English shore, to oblige and comfort your mother, is come to England: And in the general grief that was occasioned by your absenting yourself, if the man, who was always deservedly esteemed by your family, had accompanied, had attended, your father, your brothers—
Sir Charles stopped, and looked at the apprehensive Lady with such a sweet benignity, and, on her eye meeting his, with such tender and downcast modesty (all the graces of gentle persuasion are his!)—
O Chevalier! your request! your request! Tell me in what I can oblige the most obliging of friends, of men!
I will tell you, madam—bowing on the hand he held—Consent, if it be not with too much pain to yourself, to see the Count of Belvedere.
See him, Sir! How? When? Where? As what?
As a friend to your family—a well-wisher to your glory, your happiness; and as a man ready and desirous to promote the latter at the expense of his own. He wishes but, while he stays here—
"Stays here," Sir!
To be allowed to visit your family, and to see you once, twice, thrice, as you please—but entirely under the conditions of the articles to be signed to-morrow.
And is then the Count in England?
He is, madam. He attended his and your friends over. He has not once desired to appear in your presence: He keeps himself close in private lodgings. Hence judge of his resolution not to disturb or offend you. He will depart the kingdom without an interview, if you will have it so: But I could not bear, that so good a man should be obliged to depart disgracefully, as I may say, and as if he were undeserving of pity, tho' he could not obtain favour.
Secured, madam, by the articles, tho' his emotion may be apprehended to be great, yours cannot—There is not the same reason for the one as for the other: I make it my request, that the Count of Belvedere may be allowed, as one of the chosen friends of your house, but as no more (more the articles forbid) a place at my table to-morrow.
To-morrow, Sir! and I at it!—
He bowed affirmatively.
O how the penetrating man looked into the heart of the Lady at her eyes!—As sure as you are alive, madam, he thought of guessing by her then emotion, whether any hopes could distantly lie for the Count, by the consequence his presence or absence would give him with her.
She paused—At last—And is this, Chevalier, the request you had to make me?
It is, madam; and if my Harriet had not had the honour of this visit, I should have made the same request for his admission in the evening to-morrow—as now I do to dinner.
Well, Sir; I can suspect no double-dealing from Sir Charles Grandison.
I ask for no favour for the Count more than I have mentioned, madam: I am bound by the articles I have drawn, as if I were a party to them.
Well, Sir, I consent to see the Count. He will be prudent. I hope I shall be so. In Italy, more than once, after you had left it, I saw him: And I always wished him happy.
Now, my dearest Sister, said Sir Charles, my ever-to-be-respected friend, I am easy in my mind. I could not bear in my thoughts, that any-thing I knew, which it concerned you to know, should be concealed from you.
Tears stood in her eyes. O madam, said she to me, God and you only can reward this excellent man for his goodness to me, and all the world that know him.—You see your influence, Chevalier. In every way do I wish to show my gratitude. But never, never, ask me to give my hand in marriage.
Ah! my dear Lady! thought I; a tear stealing involuntarily down my cheek; the less, the less, I doubt, must you be asked, for having before you a man, who having no equal, you cannot think of any other.
The two Ladies hurried away to Lady L's. How sincerely has the friendly heart of dear Lady L. been affected in all these tender scenes!
LA STORIA DI
Volume VII - lettera 41
Volume VII - Letter 42
LADY GRANDISON. IN CONTINUATION.
Thursday evening, March 29.
Lady G. has sent for me in all haste. She is taken ill. God give her a happy hour!
O my grandmamma! there are solemn, there are awful, circumstances in the happiest marriages. She begs to see her brother as well as me. I wait for him. The Count of Belvedere is with him.—They have parted—I am gone.
Just returned. All happily over! A fine girl!—Yet tho' a fine one, how are the Earl and Lady Gertrude disappointed!—Poor mortals! how hard to be pleased!
The brave are always humane. Sir Charles's tender and polite behaviour on this occasion—How does every occurrence endear him to every-body!
How dearly does Lord G. love his Charlotte! Till all was over, he was in agonies for her safety. His prayers then, his thankfulness now, how ought they to endear them to his Charlotte! And so they must, when she is told of his anxiety, and of his honest joy, or I will not own her for my Sister. But in her heart, I am sure, she loves him. Her past idle behaviour to him was but play. She will be matronized now. The mother must make her a wife. She will doubly disgrace herself, if she loves her child, and can make a jest of her husband.
I have just now asked Sir Charles, whether, if he could prevail on Lady Clementina, while they were all with us, to give her hand to the Count of Belvedere, he would? By no means, said he, and that for both their sakes. Lady Clementina has, on many occasions, shown that she may be prevailed upon by generous and patient treatment: Let the Count have patience. If she recover her mind, a train of cheerful ideas may take place of those melancholy ones, which make her desirous of quitting society. She will find herself, by the articles agreed to, in a situation to do more good, than it is possible she could do, were her inclination to take the veil to be gratified. The good she will do, will open and enlarge a mind which is naturally noble; and she will be grateful for the indulgence given her, which will be the means of so happy a change: But if the poor Lady's mind be not curable (which God forbid!) who will pity the Count for not being able to obtain her hand?—I think, my dear, I have made him, tho' not happy, easy; and I hope he will be able to see her without violent emotions.
Signors Sebastiano and Juliano are come back, rejoicing that they have been introduced to, and kindly received by, Lady Clementina.
Sir Edward Beauchamp has just left me. How happy does the account he gives of my Emily's cheerfulness make me! I knew you would all love her.
Sincerely do I rejoice in the news which my Nancy confirms, that Lucy has absolutely rejected the addresses of Mr. Greville. She startled me once, I can tell her: A naughty girl! what could she mean by it?
Won't she give me the particulars under her own hand? I shall be afraid of her till she does; so much was I impressed by her warmth in the argument she once held with me, in his favour, as I thought. Yet I cordially wish Mr. Greville well; but my Lucy better. Pray, madam, let me privately know, if the proposals from the young Irish peer (Note: Lord Reresby, mentioned in Vol. 6), whom Nancy praises so much for his sobriety, modesty, learning, and other good qualities, were made before or after the rejecting of Mr. Greville? I half-mistrust the girls who have been disappointed of a first Love. Yet Lucy's victory over herself was a noble one. She is in the way, I hope, to be rewarded for it. God grant it—Think you, my dear grandmamma, I can be solicitous (as I am from the bottom of my heart) for the happiness of a new-adopted Sister, and not be inexpressibly anxious for that of my Lucy, the faithful, the affectionate friend of my earlier years?
Our guests are entering.—May the same gracious Providence, which has more than answered every wish of your Harriet's heart in her own situation, shower down its blessings on Lucy, on you, and all the revered, the beloved circle! prays, my dear grandmamma,
Your and their ever dutiful and affectionate
Volume VII - lettera 42
Volume VII - Letter 43
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Sat. March 31.
Now, my dear grandmamma, let me give you some account of what passed yesterday.
The Articles signed and witnessed, were put into Lady Clementina's hand, and a pen given her, that she might write her name, in the presence of all her surrounding friends here.
Never woman appeared with more dignity in her air and manner. She was charmingly dressed, and became her dress. A truly lovely woman! But every one by looks seemed concerned at her solemnity. She signed her name; but tore off, deliberately, their names; and kissing the torn bit, put it in her bosom: Then, throwing herself on her knees to her father and mother, who stood together, and presenting the paper to the former; Never let it be said, that your child, your Clementina, has presumed to article in form with the dearest of parents. My name stands. It will be a witness against me, if I break the articles which I have signed. But in your forgiveness, my Lord, in yours, madam, and in a thousand acts of indulgence, I have too much experienced your past, to doubt your future, goodness to me. Your intention, my ever honoured parents, is your act. I pray to God to enable your Clementina to be all you wish her to be. In the single Life only indulge me. Your word is all the assurance I wish for. I will have no other.
They embraced her. They tenderly raised her between them; and again embraced her.
I would not, methinks, Sir, said she, turning to Sir Charles, for the first time see the Count of Belvedere before all this company, tho' I revere every one in it. Is the Count in the house?
He is in my Study, madam.
Will my mamma, said she, turning to her, honour me with her presence?
She gave her hand to Sir Charles, and took mine.—Jeronymo followed her; and Sir Charles led her into the next room. Too great solemnity in all this! whispered the Marquis to Father Marescotti. She curtsied, invitingly, to Mrs. Beaumont. She also followed her.
Sir Charles, seating her and the Marchioness, by the young Lady's silent permission, went into his Study; and, having prepared the Count to expect a solemn and uncommon reception, introduced him. He approached her, profoundly bowing: A sweet blush overspread her cheeks: You, my Lord of Belvedere, said she, are one of those my friends, to whom I am, in some measure, accountable for the rash step which brought me into this kingdom; because it has induced you to accompany my brothers, whom you have always honoured with your friendship.—Forgive me for any inconveniencies you have suffered on this occasion.
What honour does Lady Clementina do me to rank me in the number of the friends to whom she thinks herself accountable!—Believe me, madam—
My Lord, interrupted she, I shall always regard you as the friend of my family, and as my friend. I shall wish your happiness, I do wish your happiness, as my own; and I cannot give you a better proof that I do, than by withholding from you the hand which you have sought to obtain with an unshaken, and my friends think, an obliging perseverance, quite thro' an unhappy malady, which ought to have deterred you, for many sakes, and most for your own.
My dear mamma, throwing herself at her feet, forgive me for my perseverance. It is not altogether owing (I hope it is not at all owing) to perverseness, and to a wilful resistance of the wills and wishes of all my friends, that I have withstood you. Two reasons influenced me, when I declined another hand: Religion and Country, a double reason, was one; the unhappy malady which had seized me, was another. Two reasons, rising with dignity, and turning from her weeping mother, also influence me with regard to the Count of Belvedere; tho' neither of them are the important articles of Religion and Country. I own to you, before these my dearest friends, and let it be told to every one concerned to know it, that justice to the Count of Belvedere is one—What a wretch should I be, if I gave my hand to a man who had not the preference in my heart, which is a husband's due!—And should I, who had an unhappy reason to refuse one worthy man for his own sake, perhaps for the sakes of the unborn (I will speak out on this important occasion) not be determined to do as much justice to another?—In one word, I refused to punish the Chevalier Grandison [Madam, to me, you know my story]: What has the Count of Belvedere done, that I should make no scruple to punish him? My good Lord, be satisfied with my wishes for your happiness. I find myself, at times, very, very wrong. I have given proofs but too convincing to all my friends, that I am not right.—While I so think, conscience, honour, justice (as I told you once before, my good Chevalier) compel me to embrace the Single Life.—I have, in duty to my nearest friends, given up the way I should have chosen to lead it in—Let me try to recover myself in their way. My dearest, dearest, mamma (again dropping on her knees to her) I will endeavour to make all my friends happy in the way they have agreed to make me so. Pray for me, all my friends!—looking round her, tears in big drops trickling down her cheeks. Then rising, Pray for me, my Lord of Belvedere: I will for you; and that you may do justice to the merit of some worthier woman, who can do justice to yours.
She hurried from us, in a way which showed she was too much elevated for her corporal powers. Sir Charles besought Mrs. Beaumont to follow her. Mrs. Beaumont took my hand.
We found the Lady in the Study: She was on her knees, and in tears. She arose at our entrance. Each of us hastening to give her a hand, O my dear Lady Grandison, said she, forgive me.—My dear Mrs. Beaumont, am I, am I wrong? Tell me, Have I behaved amiss?
We both applauded her. Well we might. If her greatness be owing to a raised imagination, who shall call it a malady? Who, but for the dear Lady's own sake, would regret the next-to-divine impulse, by which, on several occasions, she has shown herself actuated?
She suffered herself to be led to her mother, who embracing her (Clementina again kneeling to her) My dearest child, my blessed daughter, we all of us, while such are your apprehensions, must acquiesce with your reasons. Be happy, my Love, in your own magnanimity. I glory in my child.
And I in my Sister, said the noble Jeronymo—Saint! Angel! kneeling to her on one knee, notwithstanding his lameness, I next to adore my Sister.
She called him her brother, her true brother. Then, taking my hand; And will you, Lady Grandison, said she, be my Sister? Shall Sir Charles Grandison be my Brother? Will you return with us into Italy? Shall we cultivate on both sides a family-friendship to the end of our lives?
I threw my arms about her neck, tears mingling on the cheeks of both: It will be my ambition, my great ambition, to deserve the distinction you give me—My Sister, my Friend, the Sister of my best Friend, love him as he honours you; and me for his sake, as I will you for your own, as well as his, to the end of my life
Sir Charles clasped his arms about us both. His eyes spoke his admiration of her, and his delight in each. Angels he called us. Then seating us, he took the Count's hand; and, leading him to her, Let me, madam, present to you the Count of Belvedere, as a man equally to be pitied and esteemed. He yields to your magnanimity with a greatness of mind like your own. Receive then, acknowledge, the friend in him. He will endeavour to forego a dearer hope.
Then will I receive him as my friend. I thank you, my Lord, for the honour you have so long done me. May you be happy with a woman, who can deserve you!—See that happy pair before you! May you be as happy as Sir Charles Grandison!—What greater felicity can I wish you?
He took her hand: On one knee he lifted it to his lips: I will tear from you, madam, a tormentor. I must ask nothing of you; but, for myself, I can only promise, in the words of the Chevalier Grandison, to endeavour to forego, a dearer, the dearest, hope.
The Count arose, bowing to her with profound respect; his eyes full; as his heart seemed to be. Signor Jeronymo motioned to return to the company. Lady Clementina wished to retire with me, till what had passed was related to the rest. I led her to my closet. There did we renew our vows of everlasting friendship.
Sir Charles, thinking the relation would be painful to the Count, withdrew with him into his Study. Mrs. Beaumont, and Signor Jeronymo, told those who were not present at the affecting scenes, what had passed.
When we were summoned to dinner, every one received Lady Clementina as an Angel. They applauded her for her noble behaviour to the Count, and blessed themselves for having taken the resolution of coming to England; and, most of all, they blessed my dear Sir Charles; to whom they ascribed all their opening happy prospects; and promised themselves that his family and theirs would be as much one, as if the alliance, once so near taking place, had actually done so.
Sir Charles, at and after dinner, urged the carrying into execution the latter part of his beneficent plan. He offered to attend them to the Drawing-room, to the Play, to the Oratorios (and took that opportunity to give the praises which every-body allows to be due to Mr. Handel); and to every place of Public Entertainment which was worthy the notice of Foreigners; and left it to their choice, whether they would go first to Grandison-hall, or satisfy their curiosity in and about town.
The Marquis said, that as Sir Charles and I were brought out of the country by the arrival of their Clementina, and our expectation of them, he doubted not but it would be most agreeable to us, to return to our own seat; adding, politely, that the highest entertainment they could have, would be the company and conversation of us, and our friends; and that rather at our own seats, than any-where else. The public diversions, he was pleased to say, might take their attention afterwards. Now they were here, they would not be in haste to return, provided Sir Charles and his friends would answer the hope he had given of accompanying them back to Italy.
There is no repeating the polite and agreeable things, that were said on all sides.
Well then, my dear grandmamma, to cut short, thus it was at last agreed upon:
The Count of Belvedere, who, all the afternoon and evening, received the highest marks of civility and politeness from the admirable Clementina (which, by the way, I am afraid will not promote his cure) proposes, with Signors Sebastiano and Juliano, to pass a month or six weeks in seeing every-thing which they shall think worthy of their notice in and about this great city; and then, after one farewell-visit to us, they intend to set out together for the Court of Madrid; where the Count intends to stay some months.
We shall all set out, on Monday next, for Grandison-hall.
Lord and Lady L. will follow us in a week or fortnight.
How will the poor dear Charlotte mutter! whispered Lady L. to me: But she and her Lord will join us as soon as possible.
Mrs. Eleanor Grandison loves not the Hall, because of the hardships she received from the late owner of it, Sir Thomas; and thinks herself bound by a rash vow which she made the last time she was there, Never again to enter its gates: And she will be delighted, Lady L. says, in attending, in the absence of the fathers and mothers, the dear little infants of her two nieces.
Lady Clementina whispered me more than once, how happy she should think herself in these excursions; and hoped all their healths would be established by them. She said the sweetest, the most affectionate things to me. Once she said, bidding me call her nothing but my Clementina, that she should be happy, if she were sure I loved her as much as she loved me. I assured her, and that from my very heart, that I dearly loved her.
Surely it was a happy incident, my dear grandmamma, that Lady Clementina took a step, which, tho' at first it had a rash appearance, has been productive of so much joy to all round (to the poor Count of Belvedere excepted) and, in particular, to
Your ever-dutiful, ever-grateful,
Volume VII - lettera 43
Volume VII - Letter 44
LADY GRANDISON TO LADY G.
Grandison-hall, Monday, April 9.
How happy, my dear Lady G. are we all of us here, in one another! How happy is your Harriet!—And yet when you can come, and partake of my felicity, it will be still enlarged.
I have just now received a Letter from Lucy. The contents, as you will see (for I shall inclose it) are a conversation that passed a few days ago at Shirley-manor, upon a subject of which you are a better judge than your Harriet. In short, it is a call upon you, as I interpret it, to support your own doctrine; by which, in former Letters, you have made some of the honestest girls in England, half-ashamed to own a first passion. You know how much I am at present engaged. I would not have the dear girls neglected. Answer the Letter therefore for me, and for yourself; yet, remember, that I do not engage to abide implicitly by your determination. Ever, ever, my Charlotte,
Your most affectionate
Volume VII - lettera 44
Volume VII - Letter 45
MISS LUCY SELBY TO LADY GRANDISON.
[Inclosed in the preceding.]
Thursday, April 3.
Every hour in the day some circumstance or other makes me wish my dear Lady Grandison in Northamptonshire. Emily charms us all—But still every object reminds us of our Harriet. Not that Harriet alone would content us now. Nor could Sir Charles and Lady Grandison be at this time spared by their noble guest. After all therefore, every-thing is best as it is. But indeed we all wished for you yesterday evening, most particularly, at Shirley-manor. The conversation was an interesting one to all us girls; and Emily, Nancy, and our cousin Holles's, have brought me to give you an account of it, and to appeal to you upon it; and through you to Lady G. And yet we are all of us more than half afraid of a Lady, who has already treated but lightly, a subject that young women think of high importance.
The conversation began with my cousin Kitty's greatly pitying Lady Clementina; describing in her pathetic way, the struggles she had had between her first duties and her inclination; the noble preference she had given to the former; and the persecution, as she called it, of all her friends to induce her to marry when she chose to live single all her life. Every one of us young folks joined with my cousin Kitty.
But your grandmamma Shirley could not, she said, perfectly agree with us in the hardship of Lady Clementina's situation; who having from noble motives spontaneously rejected the man of her choice, was, from reasons of family convenience, and even of personal happiness, urged to marry a nobleman, who, by all accounts, is highly deserving and agreeable, and every way suitable to her: A man in short, to whom she pretended not an aversion; nor hoped nor wished to be the wife of any other man; proposing to herself only the Single Life, and having given up all thoughts of taking the veil.
Personal happiness! cried out Miss Kitty Holles: Can the woman be happy in a second choice, whose first was Sir Charles Grandison?
And whom, for noble motives, she refused, said my aunt Selby, remember that, Kitty; and whom she wished to be, and who actually is, the husband of another woman.
The girls looked at one another: But Mrs. Shirley speaking, they were all silent.
The happiness of human Life, my dears, replied your grandmamma, is at best but comparative. The utmost we should hope for here, is such a situation, as, with a self-approving mind, will carry us best through this present scene of trial: Such a situation, as, all circumstances considered, is, upon the whole, most eligible for us, tho' some of its circumstances may be disagreeable.
Young people set out with false notions of happiness; gay, fairy-land imaginations; and when these schemes prove unattainable, sit down in disappointment and dejection. Tell me now, Kitty Holles, and speak freely, my Love [She would not address herself to some of us for a reason I, your Lucy, for one, need not give] we are all friends; the gravest of us have been young; tell us, Kitty, your ideas of happiness for a young woman just setting out in Life.
Poor Emily answered only with a sudden blush, and a half-stifled sigh: But all the rest, as with one voice, cried out Harriet, our Harriet, is the happy woman—To be married to the man of her choice; The man chosen by her friends, and applauded by all the world.
And so, said Mrs. Selby, as there is but one Sir Charles Grandison in the world, were his scheme of Protestant Nunneries put in execution, all the rest of womankind, who had seen him with distinction, might retire into cloisters.
Were men to form themselves by his example, said Emily [No unfavourable hint for Sir Edward]—There she stopped.
Besides, said I (my own case in view) when our eye has led our choice, imagination can easily add all good qualities to the plausible appearance. But to give our hand where we cannot give a preference, is surely, madam, acting against conscience in the most important article of Life.
A preference we ought to give, my Lucy: But need this be the preference of giddy inclination? No version pre-supposed, will not reason and duty give this preference in a securer and nobler way to the man who, upon the whole, is most suitable to us? It is well known, that I was always for discouraging our Harriet's declarations, that she never would be the wife of any other man than him she is now so happy as to call hers. If (as we all at one time apprehended) our hopes had been absolutely impracticable, the noble Countess of D. who gave such convincing reasons on her side of the question (Note: See, Vol. 5, Letter 18) would have had my good wishes for the Earl of D. So, before him, had not ill health been an objection, would Mr. Orme. You all know, that I wished but to live to see my Harriet the wife of some worthy man. A single woman is too generally an undefended, unsupported creature. Her early connexions, year by year, drop off; no new ones arise; and she remains solitary and unheeded, in a busy bustling world; perhaps soured to it by her unconnected state. Is not some gratitude due to a worthy man, who early offers himself for her guide and protector through Life? Gratitude was the motive even of Harriet's inclination at first.
Nancy smiled. Why smiles my Nancy? asked your smiling grandmamma. I am sure you think, child, there is weight in what I said.
Indeed, madam, there is—Great weight—But just as you gave us an idea of the dreary unconnected Life of a single woman in years, I thought of poor Mrs. Penelope Arby. You all know her. I saw her in imagination, surrounded with parrots and lap-dogs!—So spring-like at past fifty, with her pale pink Lutestring, and back head—Yet so peevish at girls!—
And she, resumed Mrs. Shirley, refused some good offers in her youth, out of dread of the tyranny of a husband, and the troublesomeness of a parcel of Brats!—Yet now she is absolutely governed by a favourite maid, and as full of the Bon-mots of her parrots, as I used to be of yours, my Loves, when you were prattlers.
Yet let us not, said Mrs. Selby, with the insolence of Matrons or Brides-expectant, be too severe upon Old Maids. Lady G. surely is faulty in this particular. Many worthy and many happy persons in that class, have I known: Many amiable and useful in society, even to their latest age—You, madam, to Mrs. Shirley, had a friend—Mrs. Eggleton.
I had, my dear Mrs. Selby—Never has any length of time, any variety of scene, at all effaced the dear idea, tho' she died many years ago. She never married; but that was not her own fault. She was addressed when near twenty, by a young gentleman of unexceptionable character. She received his addresses, on condition that both their friends approved of them. She was a visitor in town. The relations of both lived in the country. The young couple loved each other: But neither of their families, when consulted, approving the match, to the great regret of both, it was broken off. The gentleman married, and was not unhappy. In three or four years, another worthy man made his addresses to Mrs. Eggleton. All her friends approved. She found him deserving of her affection, and agreed to reward his merit. He was to make one voyage to the Indies, on prospects too great to be neglected, and on his return they were to be married. His voyage was prosperous to the extent of all his wishes. He landed in his native country; flew to his beloved mistress. She received his visit with grateful joy. It was his last visit. He was taken ill of a violent fever; died in a few days, delirious, but blessing her.
She and I have talked over the subject we are upon a hundred times. In those days I was young, and had my romantic notions.
Indeed, madam! said Patty Holles; Indeed, madam! said Emily—Dear, dear madam, said Kitty Holles, if it be not too bold a request, let us hear what they were.
The reading in fashion when I was young, was Romances. You, my children, have, in that respect, fallen into happier days. The present age is greatly obliged to the authors of the Spectators. But till I became acquainted with my dear Mrs. Eggleton, which was about my sixteenth year, I was over-run with the absurdities of that unnatural kind of writing.
And how long, madam, did they hold?
Not till I was quite twenty. That good Lady cured me of so false a taste: But till she did, I had very high ideas of first impressions; of eternal constancy; of Love raised to a pitch of idolatry. In these dispositions, not more than nineteen, was my dear Mr. Shirley proposed to me, as a person whose character was faultless; his offers advantageous. I had seen him in company two or three times, and looked upon him merely as a good sort of man; a sensible man—But what was a good sort of man to an Oroondates? He had paid no addresses to me: He applied to my friends on a foot of propriety and prudence. They laid no constraint upon me. I consulted my own heart—But, my dear girls, what a temptation have you thrown in the way of narrative old age!
All of us most eagerly besought her to go on.
The excellent Mrs. Eggleton knew my heart better than I did myself. Even now, said she, you dislike not this worthy man. You can make no reasonable objection to his offer. You are one of many Sisters [We were then a numerous family—Alas! how many dear friends have I out lived!] A match so advantageous for you, will be of real benefit to your whole family. Esteem, heightened by Gratitude, and enforced by Duty, continued she, will soon ripen into Love: The only sort of Love that suits this imperfect state; a tender, a faithful affection. There is a superior ardor due only to Supreme perfection and only to be exercised by us mortal creatures in humble devotion. My dear Henrietta, concluded she, condescend to be happy in such a way as suits this mortal state.
I replied to her, with distress of mind, proceeded Mrs. Shirley, that I could not depend upon my own sentiments. I had seen little of the world. Suppose, after I have vowed Love to a man quite indifferent to me, I should meet with the very one, the kindred soul, who must irresistibly claim my whole heart? I will not suspect myself of any possibility of misconduct, where the duty and the crime would be so glaring; but must I not, in such a case, be for ever miserable?
The mild Mrs. Eggleton did not chide: She only argued with me. Often afterwards did I with delight, repeat this conversation to the best of men, my dear Mr. Shirley, when a length of happy years had verified all she said.
Dear madam, cried Kitty, tell us how she argued, or we shall all remain on your side of the question.
O my children! said the venerable parent, in what talkativeness do you engage me!
I fear, Henrietta, said Mrs. Eggleton, that tho' you are a good christian, your opinions in this point are a little heathenish. You look upon Love as a blind irresistible Deity, whose darts fly at random, and admit neither defence nor cure. Consider the matter, my dear, in a more reasonable light. The passions are intended for our servants, not our masters, and we have, within us, a power of controlling them, which it is the duty and the business of our lives to exert. You will allow this readily in the case of any passion that poets and romance writers have not set off with their false colourings. To instance in anger; Will my Henrietta own, that she thinks it probable, anger should ever transport her beyond the bounds of duty?
I pleaded, that I was not naturally of an angry temper; and was asked with a smile, whether I meant by that distinction, to own myself of a loving one.
I could not be angry with my good Mrs. Eggleton; yet I remember I was vexed to the heart.
But why then, rejoined she, should you think yourself more likely to fall in Love after you are married, than before?
At least, said I, a little peevishly, let me stay till I am in Love, as you are pleased to call it, before I marry.
I would not by any means, replied she, have you marry a man for whom you have not a preferable inclination; but why may you not find, on admitting Mr. Shirley's addresses, young, agreeable, worthy, and every way suitable to you, as he is, that he is that man whom your inclination can approve?
I never saw him yet, said I, with the least emotion. I have no aversion to him: I might esteem him: But what is that to the Love one is so solemnly to vow a husband? And should I, after that vow, behold an object whom I could indeed have loved?—
A Duke de Nemours! said she, taking up the Princess of Cleves, that unluckily lay on my table—Ah, my Henrietta, have I found you out!—That princess, my dear, was a silly woman. Her story is written with dangerous elegance; but the whole foundation of her distresses was an idle one. To fancy herself in Love with a mere stranger, because he appeared agreeable at a Ball, when she lived happily with a worthy husband, was mistaking mere Liking for Love, and combating all her Life after with a chimera of her own creating. I do not tell you it is impossible for you to meet hereafter with persons in some external accomplishments superior to the deserving man whose wish is to make you happy: But will you suffer your eye to lead you into misery then, when an additional tie of duty forbids its wandering? If so, I must suppose it would equally mislead you now. Tell me, Henrietta, What think you of those girls, who blast all the hopes of their fond parents, by eloping with a well-dressed captain, a spruce dancing-master, or a handsome player?
She struck me dumb with shame.
You see then, my dear, the filial duty, the duty of a reasonable and modest woman, were she even without parents or friends, forbids fancy to be her guide, as much as the sacred engagement of marriage forbids it to be her tormenter.
But have there not been instances, said I; do not you and I know one [We did] in this neighbourhood, where a truly good woman was made miserable for years, by having her heart and hand differently engaged?
Mrs. Eggleton reminded me, that there were, in that case, such extremely particular circumstances, as made it absurd to form from thence a general judgment. In almost every thing, said she, we act but upon probabilities; and one exception out of a thousand ought never to determine us. Even this exception in the case you hint at, is owing, in some measure, to a pitiable misguided imagination. Let us take our rules, my dear, from plain common sense, and not from poetical refinements.
Say, my children, said the condescending parent, did my friend argue well?
I think, madam, answered Kitty, she argued poor Love out of doors. She did not seem to allow the possibility of any person's being in Love at all.
I told her so, replied my grandmamma.
So far from it, said she, with a sigh, and a look expressive of the softest tenderness, that my own affections, as you know, were deeply engaged. The amiable youth, to whom I was to be united by marriage, died. His memory will ever be dear to my heart. Love authorised by reasonable prospects; Love guided and heightened by duty, is every-thing excellent that poets have said of it: Yet even this Love must submit to the awful dispensations of Providence, whether of death or other disappointment; and such trials ought to be met with cheerful resignation, and not to be the means of embittering our lives, or of rendering them useless: And every thing we ought to do, be assured, my dear, we shall be enabled to do, if we set about it rightly, and with equal humility and trust. As for that kind of Love, which in its very beginning is contrary to Duty, to suppose that unconquerable, is making ourselves wretched indeed: And for first-sight impressions, and beginning inclinations, though always dangerous, and often guilty to indulge, they are absolutely trifles to overcome and suppress, to a person of prudence and virtue.
How we dwelt upon every sweet document that fell from the lips of the dear Mrs. Shirley!
But now, Harriet, for the appeals. After all, were you, or were you not, a romantic girl, when you declared, that you never would be the wife of any man living, if you were not Sir Charles Grandison's; even at the time when neither you nor we thought there could be any hopes of such a happy event?—
But had we not, however, better appeal to Lady G. than to you? You were always so wise!—Yet you could not be contented with the worthy Orme. You knew, instinctively, as I may say, that your kindred mind dwelt in St. James's Square. And Lady G. forty years hence will be looking back, I suppose, with wonder, on the time when she gave her then fair hand of swan-skin, changed to buff. [Her own flighty idea!] with reluctance, to her deserving Lord. So, perhaps, we had best make no appeals at all. If we did, neither you nor she are at leisure now to answer them. Yet we have one appeal more to make; but it must be to our Harriet; not to Lady G.—Was not even our venerable parent a little too severe upon Old Maids? That wicked Nancy fell a laughing—Does she know what may be her own case? Here is a great parcel of girls of us—Have not I, her Elder, been crossed in Love already? But if no proper match ever offers, must we take an improper one, to avoid the ridicule of a mere name? An unsupported state is better than an oppressed, a miserable one, however: And how many rashly-chosen husbands, and repentant wives, could I set against Nancy's Mrs. Arby?—But the post is just going out; so that, far from entering on so copious a subject, I have barely time to add, that I am, with the truest affection, my dearest creature,
Your faithful LUCY.
Volume VII - lettera 45
Volume VII - Letter 46
LADY G. TO LADY GRANDISON.
Thursday, April 12.
I am very well—What's the matter with the woman!—I will write!—Fifteen days control and candle—Why surely!—
They are impertinent, my dear; and would take my pen and ink from me!—
YOU do well, Harriet, to throw upon me your self-condemning task.
How conscious you are, when you tell me, before you know my opinion of the contents of Lucy's Letter, that you will not subscribe implicitly to my determination!—But I will not spare you. In my condemnation of them, read your own. I have written my answer, and shall inclose it: and no more at present trouble myself about them.
But here, I, Charlotte G. who married with indifference the poor Lord G.; who made the honest man, whenever I pleased, foam, fume, fret, and execrate the hour that he first beheld my face, now stand forth, an example of true conjugal felicity, and an encouragement for girls who venture into the married state, without that prodigious quantity of violent passion, which some hare-brained creatures think as essential of Love.
You, my dear, left us tolerably happy. But now we are almost in-tolerably so. I had begun to recover my spirits, depressed, as they had been, for near a month before, on finding myself, like any common woman, confined to my chamber, while every other mouth sang O be joyful; and one was preparing, another was set out, and half a score more were actually got to dear Grandison-hall. I bit my lip, and raved at the wretch to whom I attributed my durance: When, yesterday (after a series indeed of the most obliging and most grateful behaviour, that a man ever expressed for a Present made him, which he holds invaluable) he entered my chamber; and surprised me, as I did him (for I intended that he should know nothing of the matter, nor that I would ever be so condescending); surprised me, as how? Ah, Harriet! In an act that confessed the mother, the whole mother!—Little Harriet at my breast; or, at my neck, I believe I should say—should I not?
The nurse, the nursery-maids, knowing that I would not for the world have been so caught by my nimble Lord (for he is in twenty places in a minute) were more affrighted than Diana's nymphs, when the goddess was surprised by Acteon; and each, instead of surrounding me in order to hide my blushes, was for running a different way; not so much as attempting to relieve me from the Brat.
I was ready to let the little Leech drop from my arms—O wretch! screamed I—Begone!—begone! Whence the boldness of this intrusion?
Never was man in a greater rapture. For Lady Gertrude had taught him to wish that a mother would be a mother: He threw himself at my feet, clasping me and the little varlet together in his arms. Brute! said I, will you smother my Harriet—I was half-ashamed of my tenderness—Dear-est, dear-est, dear-est Lady G.—Shaking his head, between every dear and est, every muscle of his face working; how you transport me!—Never, never, never, saw I so delightful a sight! Let me, let me, let me (every emphatic word repeated three times at least) behold again the dear sight. Let me see you clasp the precious gift, our Harriet's Harriet too, to that lovely bosom—The wretch (trembling however) pulled aside my handkerchief. I try'd to scold; but was forced to press the little thing to me, to supply the place of the handkerchief—Do you think, I could not have killed him?—To be sure, I was not half angry enough. I knew not what I did, you may well think—for I bowed my face on the smiling infant, who crowed to the pressure of my lips.
Begone, Lord G. said I—See! see! how shall I hold the little Marmouset, if you devour first one of my hands, then the other?
He arose, took the little thing from me, kissed its forehead, its cheeks, its lips, its little pudsey hands, first one, then the other; gave it again to my arms; took it again; and again resigned it to me.
Take away the pug, said I, to the attendants—Take it away, while any of it is left—They rescued the still smiling babe, and run away with it.
My Lord then again threw himself at my feet—Pardon, pardon me, dearest creature, said he, that I took amiss any thing you ever said or did—You that could make me such rich amends—O let not those charming, charming spirits ever subside, which for a fortnight together, till yesterday, I missed. I loved you too well, proceeded he, to take any usage that was not quite what I wished it, lightly. But for some time past I have seen that it was all owing to a vivacity, that now, in every instants of it, delights my soul. You never, never, had malice or ill-nature in what I called your petulance. You bore with mine. You smiled at me: Henceforth every thing you say, every thing you do, will I take for a favour. O my Charlotte! Never, never more shall it be in your power to make me so far forget myself, as to be angry!
My dear Lord G.!—I had like to have said—I believe I did say—Then will you ruin, absolutely ruin, me! What shall I do—for my Roguery?—
Never, never part with what you call so!—
Impossible, my Lord, to retain it, if it lose its wonted power over you. I shall have a new lesson to learn. O my Lord! why began you not this course before Harriet and Caroline set out for Grandison-hall? I might by a closer observation of their behaviour, have made myself mistress of lessons that would have far more delightfully supplied the old ones, than can be done without their examples. But, my Lord, the time will soon come, when we shall be allowed to fly to that benefit at Grandison-hall. Our little Harriet shall go with us: The infant is the cement between us; and we will for the future be every day more worthy of that, and of each other.
My Lord hurried from me in speechless rapture; His handkerchief at his eye—Nurse, said I, bring me again our precious charge. I will be all the mother. I clasped it to my bosom. What shall I do, my little Harriet! Thy father, sweet one! has run away with my Roguery—
What a scene is here!—I will not read it over. If it requires a blush, do you, my dear, blush for me: I am hardened—And shall not perhaps, were I to re-peruse it, my maternity so kindly acknowledged, so generously accepted, by my Lord G. be able to blush for myself.
But, that I may seem only to have changed the object, not wholly to have parted with my levity, read the inclosed here, in answer to the appeal of the young people; directed thus:
Lady G. To Miss Lucy Selby,
And the rest of the Girls at Selby-house,
You appeal to Harriet, and revoke your appeal: You appeal to me, and withdraw it in the same Letter—a parcel of chits! You know not what you would have; what you would be; and hardly what you are: You can have the sauciness in more places than one, to reflect upon me your judge. But are you not convinced by the solid arguments of Mrs. Shirley? and her Mrs. Eggleton? If you are not, what strange creatures are girls from sixteen to twenty-two! Don't boys read romances as well as girls? Yet, in these latter days, do the glaring absurdities influence them so much in Love-matters, or last so long? Foolish things! would you give a preference against yourselves to the other Sex?
Harriet, I think, was a romantic girl, when she made her declarations of one man only, or no one, for a husband. I did let her know my mind at the time by hints: But had my brother actually married Clementina; not only I, but her grandmother Shirley, and aunt Selby, and uncle too (odd soul as he is in some things) would have spoken out, in favour of the young Earl of D. And had it not been with success, after a proper time had passed, I, for my part, would have set her down as a very silly girl; inferior, in this respect, to you, Lucy, and to twenty more I could name: For how few of us are there, who have their first Loves? And indeed how few first Loves are fit to be encouraged? You know my thoughts, Lucy, of a beginning Love, in a young bosom (Note: Vol. 6, Letter 27)—A very, very silly and childish affair, believe me.
Let me enumerate a few chances that may render a first Love impracticable.
A young woman may fix her affections on a man, who may prove perfidious—On a man, who may be engaged to another woman; as had like to have been my brother's case—On a man who may be superior to her in degree or fortune; or who may be greatly inferior to her in both.—If Love be not a voluntary passion, why not upon an hostler, a groom, a coachman, a footman—A grenadier, a trooper, a foot-soldier?—She may be in Mrs. Eggleton's case: Her Lover may be taken from her by death. In either, or any, of these cases, what is to be done? Must a woman sit down, cry herself blind, and become useless to the principal end of her being, as to this life, and to all family connexions, when, probably, she has not lived one third of her time?—Silly creatures!—to maintain these nonsenses at their own expense, in favour of a passion that is generally confined to the days of girlhood; and which they themselves would laugh at in a woman after she was arrived at honest thirty, or at years of discretion—Thus narrowing their own use and consequence.—I, for my part, am, and ever will be, a friend of my Sex.
But hark ye, girls—Let me ask you—Do you find many of these constant nymphs, when they have had their foolish way given them, and they have buried the honest man of whom they were once so dotingly fond, refuse to marry again?—Do they wish, like the wives of some Pagan wretches, to be thrown into the funeral pile, with the dead bodies of their Lords?—No! They have had their whimsey out. Their Fit of constancy is over; and, quiet good souls as they are by that time become, they go on without Rantipoling, in the ordinary course of reasonable creatures.
Not but Harriet was in earnest: I am sure she was. She believed, she certainly believed, HERSELF. And were it given to us women always to be in one mind, she would have made all her friends, the good Mrs. Shirley at the head of us, despair of succeeding with her in our endeavours to induce her to change it. But Harriet, with all her wisdom, could not know what Time would have done for her. Time is the pacifier of every woe, the qualifier of every disappointment—Pity for the man [the Earl of D. suppose—He would have thought it worth his while to feign dying for her]; the Entreaty of her friends:-You see what arguments her excellent grandmamma could have produced—Pho, pho, never fear but Harriet would have married before my Brother and Clementina had seen the face of their second boy—No girls shall he have, for fear they should be Romancers.
And, do you think, that Clementina and the Count of Belvedere, a year or two hence—I have no fear of the matter; if they do not tease, torment, oppose her. If they do—Why then, I will not be answerable for their success. For, with excellences that none but she and Harriet among women ever boasted, there is a glorious perverseness, which they miscall constancy and perseverance, in the mind of that noble Lady (and indeed in the minds of most of us) that will probably, as it has already done, carry her thro' all opposition—In short, no more teasing, tormenting from Friends, no more heroics from Girls—Is not opposition, is not resistance, the very soul and essence of all sorts of heroism?—My life therefore for Clementina's, admirable creature as she undoubtedly is—Leave her sea-room, leave her land-room, and let her have time to consider; and she will be a Bride.
Did I ever mention to you a trick that an honest guardian put upon his ward? Many a one have you heard of from dishonest ones. This briefly was it.
The girl was of the heroic stamp; as good a girl as an heroic girl could well be. A match was proposed for her, much more considerable than she could have expected, as to fortune; and as to the man's person and qualities of mind, absolutely unexceptionable—Young, handsome, gallant, and most ardently in Love with her: But, unpolitic! he had let her know as much, before he had made himself sure of the shadow of a return, or acceptance. Her guardian, from pure Love of his ward, and a sense of the advantageousness of the offer, heartily espoused the interests of the young gentleman. This was another unhappiness to him. She gave him an absolute denial: Nor vouchsafed she to assign a reason for it; having, indeed, no other man either in her head or heart.
Her guardian was a man who knew the world, and a little of her Sex: He saw that Miss was in the very meridian of her heroics; and that the grievance most probably was, that there was no likelihood of difficulty or opposition. He took another course. He acquainted the young Lady, that he had altered his mind: That he had objections to the address of Sir Arthur Poinings (the young gentleman's name) and declared, that he never would give his consent. He desired that she would by no means see him, or receive Letters from him; and he talked of carrying her down to his country-seat in a full town-season; [The girl had a taste for pleasure—What girl has not?] not doubting, he said, that the young Baronet would persecute her with his addresses while she remained in London. He then actually forbid Sir Arthur his house; and, more than once, read Miss a Lecture on the Authority of a guardian, and the Duty of a ward. Words that naturally incite young girls to rebellion.
Sir Arthur found means to write to the minx, as if unknown to her guardian. Darts, flames, and distresses, were suggested in his Letter. The girl began to relent; the guardian to suspect: He renewed his prohibition; cunning creature! The affair now wore a face of difficulty. She answered the young gentleman's Letters. It became a regular Love-affair of the heroic kind. And, at last—What at last!—Why, the young Lady, attended only by her faithful DELIA, who had been assistant to the Lovers in their correspondence, ran away from an inexorable guardian, to Sir Arthur; married him; and, in a few days, writing an humble Letter for her clothes, acknowledged rashness, which she laid at the door of Love, and so-forth. The guardian desired a meeting with the Love-yers; now no more Love-yers, but man and wife. They met, with trembling on her side, with pretended apprehension on Sir Arthur's, for having disobliged so good a guardian. The guardian was in high good-humour. He forgave them both, at the first word, and surrendered up his trust with pleasure. The girl was surprised at his unexpected goodness; and had she not been actually nailed down by the Solemnity, would very probably have again resumed her heroics.
Well, but I am charmed with Mrs. Shirley's Eggleton, as well as with her account of herself in her heroic days. Little did I think that she ever was girl enough to be infected: But, as she says, romances were the fashionable reading of her youthful years.
Tell aunt Selby that I am not an enemy to old maids; but only to those ill qualities which I should equally dislike in old or in young Any-bodies. I love Lady Gertrude, and even aunt Eleanor, for those qualities that are love-able in them. But you see that your Nancy, the mild, good-natured Nancy, could not forbear laughing at the idea of the young-old Penelope Arby: Yet knows she not, says the malicious Lucy, what may be her own case. But I have appealed for you; and to whom? To Lady Gertrude. I was writing to her on a particular occasion, when your packet was brought me; and, in order to enliven my subject, transcribed three lines of Lucy's query upon defending the single state. She was but at Enfield, and returned me the following by the same messenger; the other part of my Letter requiring an immediate answer.
"Your question, my dearest niece, is whimsically asked: You tell me that a whole room-full of young country ladies wait only the success of an appeal you have referred to me, to know whether they shall out of hand dispose of themselves to recruiting officers, mountebanks, and fox-hunters; or venture to live on with the melancholy title of old maids, in an unsupported, undefended state.
"One or two queries to be put, proceeds the Sage are, Whether the worthy matches you have mentioned, or any unsuitable matches whatsoever, would be a support and defence? Whether the woman who makes a rash and improper choice, does not throw herself out of that protection and defence which every one may depend upon in the state of life marked out to them by Providence? And whether the single state is not thus marked out to the woman who never has it fitly in her choice to change it?
"I, my dear, who am an old maid, must not write partially on that side of the question. In general, I will fairly own, that I think a woman is most likely to find her proper happiness in the married state. May you, my dear niece, experience it every day more and more!—But there are surely many exceptions: Women of large and independent fortunes, who have the hearts and understanding to use them as they ought, are often more beneficial to the world, than they would have been had they bestowed them on such men as look for fortune only. Women who have by their numerous relations many connexions in the world, need not seek out of their own alliances for protection and defence. Ill health, peculiarity of temper or sentiments, unhappiness of situation, of person, afford often such reasons, as make it a virtue to refuse what it would otherwise be right to accept.
"But why do I write seriously to such a lively creature? Only, my dear"— But, girls, I will give you no more of Lady Gertrude. I have not done with you myself yet.
Much to the same purpose, I remember, as Mrs. Shirley's, were the expostulations of Lady D. in one of her Letters to Harriet; who only answered her, (I also remember) like a girl. What could she say?
"You, my Harriet," (wrote that Lady,) "are pious, dutiful, benevolent—Cannot you, if you are unable to entertain, for the man who now with so much ardour addresses you, were you married to him, the passion called Love, regard him as Gratitude would oblige you to prefer any other man who is assiduous to do you service or pleasure? Cannot you show him as much good-will, as you could any other man, whom it was in your power to make happy? Would you esteem him less than a person absolutely a stranger to you? The exertion of your native benevolence, of your natural obligingness, of your common gratitude, of your pity, is all that is asked of you. You have no expectation of the only man, who is dearer to you than he. This exertion will make my Lord happy; and if you retain that delight, which you have hitherto taken, in promoting the happiness of others who are not undeserving, yourself not unhappy.
You have now before you, girls, the opinion of Mrs. Shirley, and the Countess of D. on the case you put. They both sit enthroned on the serene hill of wisdom, which hardly one in fifty of their Sex attains. From thence they look down with pity, and with beckoning finger, to the crowds below them, who with aching eyes, and despairing hearts, emulate their starry heights; but in too faintly attempting to gain the ascent, tumble down, some (shameful!) head over heels, immersed in the miry puddles of sense; and others taking a supposed more easy, tho' visibly run round-about way, are misled by mazy paths into dreary deserts, till they lose even the distant sight of the sacred hill.
There, chits, I end romantically, figuratively at least, in compliment to your fanciful tastes. And thus much as to you, girls, young Lady-expectants, whimsicals, and so forth, from
Your CHARLOTTE G.
Friday, Saturday, April, 13, 14.
My women are so impertinent, and my Marmouset is so voracious, that I have been forced to take two days for what once I could have performed in little more than two hours.
Volume VII - lettera 46
Volume VII - Letter 47
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Grandison-hall, Monday, April 16.
And must I, my dear grandmamma, be more particular in relation to ourselves, our guests, our amusements, diversions, conversations—Why then does not Lucy write as usual, every tender, every engaging, every lively occurrence that happens at Selby-house, and Shirley-manor? Is she so much taken up with her agreeable Peer, that she must leave the obliging task wholly to Nancy and Emily? I don't care. They shall be my best girls; and I will put down my Lucy as a woman of mere quality before she has the title. Yet let me tell her, that could honest Mr. Fowler have courted for himself, have suffered his heart to rise to his lips, I should have wished by her means, to have been related to him and Sir Rowland. But that matter, it seems, is as good as over; and I will proceed to do my duty, whether she does hers or not.
I have told you, madam, how much our guests are pleased with us and the place. How much we are charmed with them, I need not tell you. Every praise you have heard of them, is confirmed and heightened, on a more intimate knowledge of them.
Lord and Lady L. are with us. Lord and Lady G. will come as soon as they can. Lady L. has her sweet infant with her. And I hope Lady G. will not come without my god-child.
Sir Edward Beauchamp is at present our guest. The good doctor, you know, is at home here; and how beloved, how revered, by every one!
Sir Charles! The Soul of us all!—O madam! never surely, was one spot blessed with so many persons of one mind, as are now rejoicing together at Grandison-hall.
And pray, my dear grandmamma, let me ask; Would it not be affectation rather than modesty, were I to leave myself un-named in this noble circle? I will not. Every body, for Sir Charles's sake, looks on me, with the kindest partiality, and my heart tells me that being his as much as my own, it deserves that partiality.
Except at certain devotional hours of retirement, we know not, but that we are all of one faith. Nothing of religious subjects is ever mentioned among us, but in those points in which all good Christians are agreed. You, madam, who have a true catholic charity for the worthy of all persuasions, would be delighted to see the affectionate behaviour of the two fathers (I will call them) to each other. When they are not in the general company, they are always together, walking, riding out; or in the apartment of each other, reading, conversing. The dear Clementina cannot but see, that charitable and great minds, however differing in some even essential articles of religion, might mingle hearts and love each other; and from Sir Charles's catholicism, that she might have been happy with him, and kept her own faith.—But no! it would in her notion, now I recollect, have been a dangerous trial. She could not trust her own heart—Great and noble Lady! how much is she to be revered!
The gentlemen ride out almost every day.—Our conversations! It would be endless to give you an account of the conversations that yet, I flatter myself, would delight you all. The least interesting ones of those we hold, would have made a great figure in my former Letters. Such the company, you may suppose we know not what trifling subjects are.
Every one avoids mentioning the name of the poor Count of Belvedere in the presence of Lady Clementina; yet we all pity him. We have reason to do so, from the account Signor Jeronymo receives of his distress of mind, while he endeavours to overcome his hopeless passion.
Allow me, madam, to conclude this Letter here. We are to have a little concert this evening, and our company is beginning to assemble in the music-room.—I must go and attend the marchioness and Lady Clementina; who herself will be a performer. She is an admirable one. I can only stay to add, that I am
Volume VII - lettera 47
Volume VII - Letter 48
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Grandison-hall, Saturday, April 28.
My dearest grandmamma will not complain that my three last Letters (Note: These three letters do not appear) were not filled with particulars of our engagements and Conversations here. What a scene of happiness! What have I to pray for but the continuance of it? Except that the admirable Lady Clementina were somehow settled to her own liking, and that her indulgent relations could be satisfied with it? Something seems to be wanting for her, and therefore for them. Yet can a lover of her, of her fame, of her family, say, what that something should be? I, for my part, ought to be the last who should decide for her; I, who never, I think (say Lady G. what she pleases of my romancings) could have been happy with any man in the world but Sir Charles Grandison, after I had known him, and once was led to hope for so great a blessing and who have not that notion that she has, or seems to have, of the dreariness, and disadvantages of a single state; on the contrary, who think the married life attended with so many cares and troubles, that it is rather (as it is a duty to enter into it, when it can be done with prudence) a kind of faulty indulgence and selfishness, in order to avoid these cares and troubles, to live single. But to leave this subject to the decision of Lady G. and Lady Gertrude, the latter of whom has given some unanswerable hints on her Side of the Question, I will proceed with my narrative.
And here let me observe, that had not Lady Clementina made her rejection of the best of men her sole and deliberate Act, it is my humble opinion that her loss of him would have been insupportable to her. That consideration, and her noble motive for it, enable her to behave gloriously under the self-deprivation, as I may call it. Yet, I can see, at times, by her studiously avoiding his company, and frequently excusing herself from making one in little parties of Sir Charles's proposing; and by her choosing at all times, my company, that the noble Lady thinks self-denial necessary to her peace.
She was once for putting Jeronymo on proposing to leave England sooner than they had intended; and take my promise to follow them. I was present. She had tears in her eyes when she proposed it. We had been talking of Sir Charles in raptures, on some of his noble charities which had but lately come to our knowledge, and it was pretty evident to me, that she, at the time, was of opinion, that distance from him would be a means to quiet her heart—The dear Emily finds it so, thank God!
Lady Clementina has been, however, tolerably cheerful since, amusing herself with drawing up plans for her future life. Very pretty ones some of them: But a little too ideal, if I may so express myself; and she changes them too often to show that steadiness, which I want to see in her mind. Poor Lady! How I pity her as I contemplate her, in her contrivances and proposals! I am often forced to turn away my face, that she may not see the starting Tear.
Tuesday, May 1.
The Count of Belvedere being returned to London from a country excursion, and not very well, the Marquiss was desirous of making a visit to him, and at the same time to pass a few Days in London to see the Curiosities of the place, and to be present at some of the public entertainments. The gentlemen at the first Motion made a party to attend him, and Sir Charles, you may suppose, would not, in complaisance, be excused. Dr. Bartlett and Father Marescotti, who are inseparable, had formed a scheme of their own and the Ladies declared, that not one of them would leave me.
The gentlemen accordingly set out yesterday morning. In the afternoon arrived here, one of the most obliging of wives, tenderest of mothers, and amiable of nurses-Who do you think, madam?—No other than Lady G. and her Lord. Ungovernable Charlotte! Her month but just up! We have all blamed her. We blamed her Lord too for suffering her to come.—But what could I do, said he, innocently—But they are both so much improved as husband and Wife!—Upon my Word, I am charmed with her in every one of the above characters. My Lord appears, even in her company, now that his wife has given him his due consequence, a manly, sensible Man: If he ever had any levities of behaviour they are all vanished and gone. She is all vivacity, as heretofore; but no flippancy. Her liveliness, in the main, is that of a sensible, not a very saucy wife, entirely satisfied with herself, her situation and prospects. Upon my Word, I am brought over to her opinion, that if the second man be worthy, a woman may be happy, who has not been indulged in her first Fancy: And I am the rather induced to hope so for my Emily's sake.
Mrs. Beaumont has received a Letter from the Ladies her friends at Florence, expressing their fear that the love of her Country now she is in it, has taken place in her heart, and weakened her Affection for them. They beg of her to convince them of the contrary by hastening to them.
This Letter, it seems, mentions some severe reflexions cast upon Lady Clementina by the unhappy Olivia. Camilla, who is very fond of me, has hinted this to me, and at the same time acquainted me with her young Lady's earnestness to see it; Mrs. Beaumont having expressed to her her indignation against Olivia on the occasion. Unworthy Olivia! What reflexions can you cast on the admirable Clementina!—Yet I wish Mrs. Beaumont would let me see them.—But dear Mrs. Beaumont, impart not to Clementina any thing that may affect her delicate and too scrupulous mind!
This over-lively Lady G. has been acquainting Lady Clementina with Emily's story, yet intending to set forth nothing by it, she says, but the fortitude of so young a creature.
She owns, that Lady Clementina often reddened as she proceeded in it; yet that she went on—How could she?—I chid her for poor Emily's sake, for her own sake, for Lady Clementina's, for Sir Edward Beauchamp's sake—How could she be so indelicate? Is there a necessity, dear Lady G. (thought I, as she repeated what passed on the occasion) now you are so right in the great articles of your duty, that you must be wrong in something?
Lady Clementina highly applauded Emily, however. A charming young creature she called her. Absence, added she, is certainly a right measure. Were the man a common man, it would not signify: Presence, in that case, might help her, as he probably would every Day expose his Faults to her observation. But absence from such a man as Sir Charles Grandison, is certainly right. Lady G. says, it was easy to see that Lady Clementina made some self-applications upon it.
Wednesday Morning, May 2.
Lady G. has been communicating to me a conference which she says, she could not but overhear, between Lady Clementina and Mrs. Beaumont, held in the closet of the latter, which joins to a closet in Lady G's dressing-room, separated only by a thin partition. The rooms were once one—A little of your usual curiosity, I doubt, my dear Lady G. thought I. You were not confined to that closet. You might have retired when their conversation begun. But, no; Curiosity is a nail, that will fasten to the ground, the foot of an inquisitive Person, however painful, what she hears may sometimes make her situation.
Mrs. Beamont had acquainted Lady Clementina with the contents of the Letter she had received from her Friends at Florence. The poor Lady was in tears upon it. She called Olivia cruel, unjust, wicked. The very surmise, said she, is of such a nature, that I cannot bear to look either Lady Grandison, or any of her friends in the face: For Heaven's sake, let it not be hinted to any one in the family, nor even to my own relations, that Olivia herself could be capable of making such a reflexion upon me.
My dearest Lady Clementina, said Mrs. Beaumont, I wish—
What wisheth my dear Mrs. Beaumont—
That you would change your system.
ARTICLES, Mrs. Beaumont! ARTICLES!—If they are broken with me, I resume my solicitude to be allowed to take the veil. That allowance, and that only, can set all right. My heart is distressed by what you have let me see Olivia has dared to throw out against me.
Allow me one observation only, my dear Clementina. What Olivia has hinted, the world will hint. It behoves you to consider, that the Husband of Lady Grandison ought not to be so much the object of any woman's attention, as to be an obstacle to the address of another man really worthy.
Cruel, cruel Olivia! There is no bearing the thought of her vile suggestion. None but Olivia—Say not the world. Olivia only, Mrs. Beaumont, was capable of such a suggestion—
For my own part, interrupted Mrs. Beaumont, I am confident that it is a base suggestion; and that if Sir Charles Grandison had not been married, you never would have been his. You could not have receded from your former objections. You see what a determined Protestant he is; a Protestant upon principle.
You are equally steady in your Faith: Yet as matters stand; so amiable as he is; and the more his private Life and manners are seen, the more to be admired; must not your best friends lay it at the Door of a first Love, that you cannot give way to the address of a man against whom no one other objection can lie?
ARTICLES, Mrs. Beaumont! ARTICLES!—
One word more only, my dear Lady Clementina, as the subject was begun by yourself—May it not be expected, now that no opposition is given you, you will begin to feel, that your happiness, and peace, and strength of mind will flow from turning your thoughts on principles of Duty (so the world will call them) to other objects; and that the dwelling on those it will suppose you to dwell upon, till your situation is visibly altered, will serve only to disturb your mind, and fill your friends, on every instance that may affect it, with apprehensions for you?
You have said a great deal, Mrs. Beaumont. But is not the veil the only possible expedient to make us all easy?
ARTICLES, ARTICLES! my dear Clementina. I have been drawn in by yourself insensibly to speak my mind on this subject. But I have no view, no design. Your Parents, your Brothers, you see, inviolably adhere to the Articles. But, consider, my dear, were you even allowed to assume the veil, that all such recollections of your former inclination as would be faulty in a married state, would have been equally contrary to your religious Vows. Would then the assuming of the veil make you happy?
Don't you hint, Olivia-like, Mrs. Beaumont, at culpable inclinations? Do you impute to me culpable inclinations?
I do not, neither do I think you are absolutely as yet an Angel. Would you, my dear, refuse your vows to the Count of Belvedere, or any other man, for a certain reason, yet think yourself free enough to give them to your God?
Will this Argument hold, Mrs. Beaumont, in the present case?
You will call upon ARTICLES, my dear, if I proceed. Your silence, however, is encouraging. What were just now your observations upon the story of Miss Emily Jervois: Is there not a resemblance between her case and yours?
Surely, madam, I am not such a girl!—O Mrs. Beaumont, how am I sunk in your opinion!
You are not, my dear Clementina, you cannot in any-body's. Miss Jervois is under obligations to her guardian, that you are not.
Is that, Mrs. Beaumont, all the difference?—That makes none. I am under greater. What are pecuniary obligations to the preservation of a brother's life? To a hundred other instances of goodness—That girl my pattern! Poor, poor Clementina! How art thou fallen! Let me fly this country.—Now I see in the strongest Light, what a rashness I was guilty of, when I fled to it. How must the Chevalier Grandison himself despise me!—But I tell you, Mrs. Beaumont, that I am incapable of a wish, of a thought, contrary to those that determined me when I declined the hand of the best of men. O that I were in my own Italy!—What must young Creatures suffer from the love of an improper object, in the opinion of their friends, if, after the sacrifices I have made, I must lie under disgraceful imputations from my gratitude and esteem for the most worthy of human minds?—O how I disdain myself!
It is a generous disdain, my dear lady Clementina. I end as I began—I wish you would think of changing your system. But I leave the whole upon your own consideration. Your parents are passive. God direct you. I wish you happy. At present you will not yourself say you are so. Yet nobody controls you, nor wishes to control you. Every-body loves you. Your happiness is the subject of all our prayers.
Lady G. believes the conversation ended here.
Lady L. in Mrs. Beaumont's presence, has been just making me a compliment on my generous Love, as she calls it, of Lady Clementina, and my security in Sir Charles's affection. Dear madam, said I, where is the merit? A man of such established principles and a woman of such delicate honour! They both of them move my pity, and engage my love. With regard to Lady Clementina, this is my consolation, that I stood not in her way: That your Brother never made his addresses to me, till she, on the noblest motives, left him free to choose the next eligible, as I have reason to think he allowed me to be. And let me tell you, my dear Mrs. Beaumont, that in his address to me, he did her justice; and dealt so nobly with me, that had I not before preferred him to all other men, I should have done it then.
Thursday, May 3.
I have received a Letter from Sir Charles. Lady Clementina and I were together when it was brought. She seeing whom it came from, and that I mediated the seal with Impatience, begged me to read it then, or she would withdraw. I opened it. There were in it, I told her, the politest remembrances of her, and the other ladies; and read what he wrote of that nature. She looked with so desiring an eye at it, that I said, were you to read it, madam, you would find him the kindest of men. Sir Charles and I have not a secret between us. But there are in it a passage or two, relating to a certain gentleman, that, were you to read it, might affect you. [By the way she reads English extremely well.] And is that, Lady Grandison, your only objection? I should be glad to see, were it not improper, how the politest of men writes to the best of wives.
I gave her the Letter.
She had greatness of mind to be delighted with his affectionate stile—Tender delicacy! said she, as she read:—Happy, happy Lady Grandison! Tears in her eyes, and clasping her arms about me, let me thus congratulate you. I acted right in declining his address. I must have thought well of the religion of the man, who could speak, who could write, who could act, who could live, as he does,
I bowed my face on her Shoulder. To have expressed but half the admiration I had in my heart of her nobleness of mind, would have been to hint to her the delicate situation she had been in, and to wonder how she could overcome herself.
What follows, said she, sitting down, I presume I may read: For my eye has caught the name of a man my heart can pity.
She read to herself the passage, which is to the following effect:
"The person of the poor Count of Belvedere" (Sir Charles writes, in the Count's words) "is loitering in town, endeavouring to divert itself there; while his soul is at Grandison-hall. He cannot think of quitting England, till he has taken leave of Lady Clementina; yet, dreading the pangs he shall feel on that occasion, he cannot bring himself to undergo them."
The Marquis, the Bishop, Signor Jeronymo, all joined, Sir Charles writes, to console him; yet wished him to pursue his better fortune at Madrid; and the Count thinks of prevailing on himself to accompany them down, in order to take this dreaded Farewell. Sir Charles expresses his pity for him; but applauds the whole family for their inviolable adherence to their agreement.
When she read to that place, tears stole down her cheeks—Agreement, said she,—Ah, Lady Grandison!
It is true, they speak not: But I can read their wishes in their eyes.
She read on Sir Charles's praises of the Count for his beneficent spirit. The Count, said she, is certainly a good man—But is not his, a strange perseverance? Then, giving me the Letter, How few of us know, said she, what is best for ourselves! There is a Lady in Spain of great honour and merit, who would make him a much happier man, than she can do, on whom he has cast a partial eye. And besides there is the poor Laurana—
She stopped. I suffered the subject to end there.
Sir Charles supposes it will be the latter end of next week before they return, if the Marquis holds his purpose of being present at a Ball to which he is invited by the Venetian ambassador—Near a fortnight's absence on the whole!—O dear! O dear!
The following by Lady G.
And O dear! O dear! say I! This is Saturday, and not a word more written. So taken up with her walks and walking-mate!—Selfish creature both. It was with difficulty I procured a sight of this Letter. No wonder. You see how freely she has treated me in it. I told her, it never would be finished, if I did not finish it for her. Her excuse is, Sir Charles's absence, and that you, madam, charged her not to write by every post, lest an accidental omission should make you uneasy.—Ungrateful for indulgence given! She must therefore let several posts pass—But get thee gone, Paper, now. And carry with thee all manner of compliments from Charlotte G. as well as from [Here sign it, my sweet Sister.]
Volume VII - lettera 48
Volume VII - Letter 49
LADY G. TO MISS SELBY.
Grandison-hall, Sat. May 5.
Your complaining Letter (Note: This letter does not appear) reached me here, Lucy, but this day. I arrived here on Monday afternoon. Ungracious Harriet! She chid me for coming. But I went to Church first. What would they have?
My Lord and I are one now: If therefore I say, I arrived, it is the same as saying, he did: My little Harriet with us, you may be sure.
But what does the girl complain for? Maiden creatures should send us married women two Letters for one. Establish for me this expectation: You will soon yourself be the better for the doctrine.
You tell me, that hardly any of your girls are satisfied with my imperial decision on the appeal laid before me, tho' supported by the opinions of Mrs. Shirley, Lady D. and every wise woman. I don't care whether you are or not. Sorry chits! you decide among yourselves, and then ask for the opinions of others: What for? In hopes they will confirm your own; if not, to be saucy, and reject them.
You want me to tell you a hundred thousand things, of what's doing, what's done, what's said, here? Not I. Harriet is writing a long, long Letter to her grandmamma, she tells me; and journal-wise (Note: Meaning the preceding letter).—Let that when you have it, content you. She says I must not see it. But I will. Something saucy about me in it, I suppose.
My Brother, and his principal Men-guests, are in town. They went on Monday morning. So I have not seen them.—Will not come back till Friday next week. Harriet is impatient for his return. O girls! girls! That a Church ceremony can so soon make such a difference in the same person!—But he is so generously tender of her, that the wonder, in her case, is the less.
Lady Clementina is a noble creature. We are obliged to call both her and Harriet to order; or they would never be asunder. The garden and park are the places in which they most delight to walk. Make Harriet give you the particulars of their conversations.—Then I shall have them. I have demanded them; but she only acquaints me in general, that she is delighted with Lady Clementina's part in them. The other expresses no less admiration of Harriet's. But, besides that they rob us of their company too often, which is ruder in the mistress of the house than in the guest; Harriet does not enough consider her own circumstances. Their walks are too long. She comes in, and throws herself sometimes into a chair—so tired!—Yet, chidden for her long walks, such engaging conversations! she cries out—Heroines both, I suppose; and they are mirrors to each other; each admiring herself in the other. No wonder they are engaged insensibly by a vanity, which carries with it, to each, so generous an appearance; for all the while, Harriet thinks she is only admiring Clementina; Clementina, that she's applauding Harriet.
Well, Lucy—But I find you will not be Lucy long—Your day, it seems, will soon be fixed: The day, happy may it be! which will set a coronet on your head. A foolish kind of bawble, after all, but it looks not amiss on the outside of one's coach—if the inside contain not—Did I say a monkey, Lucy? But that will not be your case. My Lord knows your Lord, and esteems him. Lord G's esteem (china and shells out of the question) is not contemptible, I can tell you. His Love for his flippant Charlotte made him play monkey-tricks, which lessened him in my eyes: but now I see he is capable of forgetting his butterflies, and esteeming me, I remember my promise, and honour him: Obedience will come—when it can.
Well, but, Lucy, Dr. Bartlett knew your Lord Reresby abroad, and speaks well of him. He has wished for this match ever since it was first mentioned; nay before it was mentioned—Ever since he was a brideman on my brother's happy day: and you are a good girl, that you have not paraded, as Harriet did, and Clementina does.
Have I any more to say? I think not. I will endeavour to get a sight of what Harriet has written. Let her deny me, if she dare. If that suggests to me a subject which she has not touched upon, well and good: If not, take it for a conclusion, chits, that I wish you all well; and to our venerable Mrs. Shirley, and respectable aunt Selby, and her honest man, health, happiness, and so-forth.
Volume VII - lettera 49
Volume VII - Letter 50
LADY G. TO MISS SELBY.
Wednesday, May 9.
I am afraid your brother James will terrify you all. Surprising;—I am very angry with him; for, however slight he might make of what I have to tell you, I know, that none of you besides will. I therefore dispatch this by a man and horse, on purpose to set your hearts at ease.—The wretch left her in a fainting fit. Had the dear creature ever any of these fits before? But why do I ask? this is easily accounted for: She was over-fatigued with a walk. Against warning, against threatenings, she and Lady Clementina had taken a longer walk than ever they did before, quite to the end of the park, to view some alterations which Sir Charles was making there. They had forgotten that they had the same length to walk back again. Half-way on their return, tired, and each accusing herself, and apologising to the other, they were surprised by a sudden shower of rain; a violent one; a thunder-shower: No shelter: They were forced to run for it towards a distant tree; which when they approached, they found wet thro'; as they both were. So they made the best of their way to the house; were seen at a little distance, making the appearance of frighted hares. The servants ran to them with cloaks, which, thrown over their wet clothes, helped to load them. As Harriet entered the hall-door, which leads into the garden, she was surprised with the sight of Sir Charles, entering at the other. She expected him not till Friday or Saturday. Her complexion changed: She sighed; sobbed: Her cheeks, her lips turned pale: Down she was sinking. My brother was terrified; but he caught her in his arms, and saved her fall.
Lady L. and I were together, indulging ourselves with our little nurseries, who were crowing at each other; I singing to both [by the way they are surprising infants] when word was brought, that my Brother was come, and Lady Grandison was dying. How were we both terrified! We, in our fright, each popped her pug into the arms of the other, by way of ridding our hands of our own; and the women being not at hand, threw the smiling brats into one cradle; and down hurried we to our Harriet.
In the midst of all this bustle, this wise Brother of yours, Lucy, slipped away without taking leave of us. What tho' his hour was fixed, and his post-chaise waiting, could he not have stayed one half-hour? O these inconsiderate, hare-brain'd—Don't be angry, Lucy, he has vex'd us for you. I should otherwise have left to herself the account of her indisposition and recovery. She has got cold: So has her sister-excellence, as my Brother justly calls her. Is it to be wondered at?—She was feverish all day yesterday; but made slight of it; and would have come down to dinner; but we would not permit her to leave her chamber.
How was Lady Clementina affected! She laid all at her own door: And last night, Harriet being still more feverish, we all talked ourselves into a thousand panics. Lady Clementina was not to be pacified.
To-day, she is, in a manner, quite well; and we are all joy upon it. But she shall never again do the honours of the Park to Lady Clementina. Trust me for that, grandmamma Shirley; and expect a Letter from the dear creature herself by the post. Adieu, adieu, Lucy, every body, in a violent hurry subscribes
Your CHARLOTTE G.
P.S. My hurry is owing only to the demands of my Marmouset upon me. To nothing else, upon my honour! For we are all safe, serene, and so-forth.
Volume VII - lettera 50
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