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Volume VII - Letter 51
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Grandison-hall, Friday, May 11.
I am sorry, my dearest grandmamma, you have all been so much alarmed by an indisposition which is already gone off. My cousin James, foolish youth! I wish he had not called upon us on his return from Portsmouth, or that he had stayed at Grandison-hall till now. Lady G. has given you, in her lively way, an account of the girlish inconsideration, which might have been attended with a fever, had not Mr. Lowther been at hand; who thought it advisable that I should lose blood. But it was the joy on seeing Sir Charles after an absence of eight days, and several days sooner than I had expected that pleasure, which overcame me.
Never, never, was there so tender, so affectionate, so indulgent a husband!—Lady G. has told you that I fainted away—When recovered, I found myself in his arms; all our friends and guests assembled round me; every one expressing such a tender concern.
Harriet, be grateful! But canst thou be enough so? How art thou beloved of hearts the most worthy!—And what new proofs hast thou received of that Love of all other the dearest! Every hour do I experience some new instance of his tender goodness. He stirred not from my chamber for half an hour together, for two whole days and nights. All the rest he took was in a chair by my bed-side; and very little was his rest: Yet, blessed be God! his health suffered not. Every cordial, every medicine, did he administer to me with his own hands. He regarded not any-body but his Harriet. The world, he told me, was nothing to him without his Harriet. So amiably has he appeared in this new light, not in my fond eyes only, but in those of all here; who are continually congratulating me upon it; and every one telling me little circumstances of his kind attention, and anxious fondness, as some happened to observe one, some another, that tho' I wanted not proofs before of his affection for me, I cannot account my indisposition an unhappiness; especially as it has gone off without the consequences, of which you were so very apprehensive.— "Dear Sir, I obey you: But indeed, Sir, writing to my grandmamma does me good. But I obey."
Only, let thus far as I have written, be dispatched to my Northamptonshire friends,
From their ever-dutiful
LA STORIA DI
Volume VII - lettera 51
Volume VII - Letter 52
LADY GRANDISON. IN CONTINUATION.
I have a constant attendant in Lady Clementina. She was not to be consoled when I was at worst. Wringing her hands, O that she had never come to England! was her frequent exclamation: And they apprehended, that her mind would be again disturbed. She has not yet recovered her former sedateness. She gets by herself, when she is not with me. She is often in tears, and wishes herself in Italy. Sir Charles is concerned for her. She has something upon her mind, he says; and asked me, if she had not disclosed it to me? He wondered she had not; expressing himself with pleasure on the confidence each has in the other.
Sunday, May 13.
Signor Jeronymo has been pitying to me the Count of Belvedere. The poor man could not prevail upon himself to accompany Sir Charles and his noble guests down. He owned to Jeronymo, that he had twice set out for Grandison-hall; but both times, being unable to pursue his intention, turned back.
Jeronymo told me, that the Count had made his will, and left all that he could leave, and his whole personal estate, to their family, in case he should die unmarried. He would not leave it to Lady Clementina, left, if his bequests were to come to her knowledge, she should think he was so mean, as to expect that favour from his riches, of which he had no hope from her esteem.
The generous Belvedere declares, said Jeronymo, that should her malady be renewed by means of our interesting ourselves in his favour, he should be the most miserable of men. My dear Jeronymo, said he, at parting in town, tell that Angel of a Woman, that I never will solicit her favour, while I shall have reason to apprehend she has an aversion to me. May Clementina be happy, and Belvedere must have some consolation from knowing her to be so, however wretched he may be on the whole. But assure yourself, Jeronymo, that I will never be the husband of any other woman, while she is unmarried.
I joined with Signor Jeronymo in pitying the Count: Yet, I must own, that my compassion is still more deeply engaged for Clementina. But I was affected not a little, however, when Jeronymo read a passage from a Letter of the Count, which, at my request, he left with me; and which I English as follows:—After his supplications put up to Heaven for her happiness, whatever became of him—"But can she be happy," says he, "in her present situation? may there not be always a struggle between her exalted notion of duty, and her passion (tho' the noblest that ever warmed a human breast) which may renew the disorders of her mind?—Were she mine—(Let me indulge, for one moment, the rapturous supposition) I could hope to conduct, to guide, to compose, that noble mind. We would admire, with an equal affection, that best of men, whose goodness is not more the object of her Love, than of my veneration. Jealous as I am of my honour, I would satisfy the charmer of my soul, that I approved of her sisterly Love of a man so excellent. She would not then be left to the silent distress of her own heart."
What say my Grandmamma, my Aunt, my Lucy? Shall I wish the noble Clementina may be prevailed upon in favour of this really worthy man? should I, do you think, be prevailed upon in her situation?—A better question still—Ought I?
Monday, May 14.
My Cousin James has seen me, and I have chid him too, for having been so hasty to carry bad news to Northamptonshire, without staying a day or two, when he might have carried better. 'Tis true, they will not permit me to quit my chamber yet: But that is rather for precautionary than necessary reasons; and they have given over chiding me for writing—Their indulgence to me of my pen will convince you, that I am quite well.
Lady Clementina most sincerely rejoices in my recovery. Yet she is every day more and more thoughtful and solemn. She is grieved, she tells her mother (who is troubled at her Solemnity) for her brother Jeronymo, who indeed is not well. Mr. Lowther tells us, that he must not expect to be exempt from temporary pains and disorder: But I am sure the worthy man would be easier in his own mind, were his sister to give her hand to the Count of Belvedere.
I talked to Sir Charles on this subject an hour ago. Lady Clementina, my dear Sir, said I, is not happy. I question whether she ever will, unless she is allowed her own way, the veil.
And that, returned he, has been so long a family objection, that the compliance with her wishes, would break the heart of her mother, at least; and greatly afflict all the rest. It must not, for their sakes, be thought of.
What then, Sir, can be done?
We must have patience, my dearest life. Her malady has unsettled her noble mind. She must try her own schemes; and if she find not happiness in any of them, she will think of new ones, till at last she fixes. Nor, I hope, is the time far off.
Do you think so, Sir?
Don't you see, my Love, that the poor Lady is more and more uneasy with herself? Something is working in her mind. I have desired her mother to leave that disturbed mind to its own generous workings. Her vehemence, raised by the opposition she met with, which she considered as a persecution, has for some time subsided; and she will probably fall upon reflexions which she had not time to attend to before.
Jeronymo thinks, proceeded he, that I might successfully plead in the Count's favour—But did I not draw the articles? Did I not propose the terms? Lady Clementina shall not be prevaricated with. She shuns me of late—In apprehension, perhaps, that I will try my influence over her. She never seems so easy, as when she is with my dearest Love. You must preserve that consequence with her, which delicate minds will ever be of to one another. Some little appearances of her malady will perhaps, now-and-then, show themselves, and unsettle her: But I have no doubt, if it please God to preserve her reason, that her present uneasinesses will be productive of some great change in her schemes, which may end in a tranquillity of mind, that will make all us who love her, happy. Meantime, my dear, let this be our rule, if you please: Let her lead; let us only follow—Persuasion against avowed inclination, you and I, my Harriet, have always condemned as a degree of compulsion. Had the admirable Lady been entreated to take the noble measure she fell upon, when she rejected me, however great the motives, she would not have been so happy, as she was, when she found herself absolute mistress of the question, and could astonish and surprise us all by her magnanimity.
Who could resist this reasoning? How well does he seem to know this excellent woman, when he considers her unhappy unfixedness, occasioned by a malady, which will now-and-then (till she can be settled in some quiet and agreeable way) show itself in her conduct, when she has any great part before her to act!
Tuesday Afternoon, May 15.
Lady Clementina, soon after dinner, sent up to me her Camilia (for I was not at table) to desire a quarter of an hour's discourse with me in my chamber.
I gave direction, that nobody should come to me till I rang. She entered; saw me seated; took her seat by me; and immediately, with a noble frankness in her manner, thus began:
I could not, my dear Lady Grandison, ask the favour of your ear on the subject I wanted to open my heart upon to you, till I saw you were perfectly recovered. God be praised, that you are! What anxieties did your late indisposition give me! I accused myself as the cause of it.—I had engaged you, thoughtlessly, in too long a walk. You know how Lady G. how Lady L. were terrified. I overheard them once that evening talking over their fears to one another. Lady G. looked with visible unkindness upon me. My aid ineffectual, my person in the way, I hurried to my chamber: Good God! said I (every object looking strange about me) Where am I? What am I? Can I be the same Clementina della Porretta that I was a few months ago? Can I have brought misery to the family which was my only refuge? To the man who—[She paused: Then lifting up her eyes; Blessed Virgin! said she, And is Clementina in the house of the man whom she has been known to regard above all men; and whom she still does regard; but not as Olivia supposes?] And then on my knees I offered up fervent prayers for your health and happiness; and that it would please God to return me, with reputation, to my native country. My eyes are now opened to the impropriety I have been guilty of in taking refuge in England; and in remaining in it, and in your house, and with a man whom I am known to value. The world had begun to talk: Cruel Olivia! She will lead and point the talk, as she would have it believed. I am under obligation to your goodness, and to that of all your friends, that they and you think kindly of me, situated as I once was. I am obliged (Mortifying consideration to a spirit like mine!) to Sir Charles Grandison's generosity and compassion, that he does not despise me. A girl (forgive me for mentioning it; it is to you only) has been, by my dear Mrs. Beaumont, proposed, indirectly at least, for a Pattern to me. How am I sunk! My pride cannot bear it. Had I been allowed to take the veil, all these improprieties in my conduct had been prevented; all these mortifications would have been spared the unhappy Clementina—Tell me, advise me, May I not renew my entreaties to be allowed to take the veil? Give me, as to your sister (no sister ever loved her sister better than I love you) your advice: Counsel me what to do, what course to steer, to recover myself in my own eyes. At present I hate, I despise, myself.
With how little reason, my dearest sister, my excellent friend! All my family revere you: Sir Charles, his Sisters, and I, love you: Lady G. particularly admires you: She could not possibly look unkindly upon you. What has Olivia dared to report? But did she ever forbear her rash censures?—What can I advise you? I see your delicate distress. But suppose you open your mind to the Marchioness? To Mrs. Beaumont suppose? She is the most prudent of women.
I know their minds already. Their judgments are not with me. Mrs. Beaumont (indeed without intending it) has terrified me. My mamma thinks herself bound by the Articles, and will not speak.
Suppose, my dearest Lady, you advise with Sir Charles? You know he is the most delicate-minded of men.
I shall ever honour him: But your indisposition has made me look upon him with more reverence than familiarity. I have avoided him. An exquisite pain has seized my heart, on being brought to meditate the impropriety of my situation: A pain I cannot describe. Here it used to be (putting her hand to her fore-head); but here now it is (removing it to her heart); and at times I cannot bear it.
Let me beg of Lady Clementina to lay that noble heart open to Sir Charles. You know his disinterested affection for you. You know his regard for your glory. You know that your own mother, your own Mrs. Beaumont, are not more delicate than he is. You may unbosom yourself to him. But such is his fear of offending you, that you must begin. A small opening will do. His nice regard for your honour, for the honour of our sex, will, on a slight encouragement, spare you all that would be irksome to you. He has no prejudices in favour or disfavour of any body. He loves, it is true, he reveres your whole family; but you more than all the rest. Shall I say that he made his court to me in your name, and by your interest; yet acknowledged himself refused by an Angel?
Excellent man!—I will consult him, and in your presence.
As to my presence, madam—
It must be so, interrupted she: I shall want your support. Do you be my advocate with him; and if he will be an advocate for me, I may yet be happy. At present, I see but one way to extricate myself with honour. I dare not propose it. He may. The world and Olivia will not let me be, in that world, a single woman, and happy.—Why should I not be allowed to quit it by a divine dedication?
I embraced her; soothed her: But thought of Sir Charles's advice, not to lead, but follow as she led: Not one word, as I told her, would I say to him of what had passed between us, that she might have his own unprejudiced advice.
I rang, by her permission. Sally came up. I made my request, by her, to her master. He found us together. Sir Charles, said I, before he could speak, Lady Clementina has something on her mind: I have besought her to consult you.
I must consult you both, said she. To-morrow morning, Sir, as early as will suit Lady Grandison, we will meet for that purpose.
May the issue of to-morrow's conference be tranquillity of mind to this excellent Lady!
Volume VII - lettera 52
Volume VII - Letter 53
LADY GRANDISON. IN CONTINUATION.
Wednesday, May 16.
The conference was held in Italian. It was but just turned of seven in the morning, when we met in my drawing-room.
I had told Lady Clementina that she must lead the subject; but Sir Charles, seeing her in some confusion, relieved her—You do me, madam, said he, great honour (and it is worthy of our brotherly and sisterly friendship in proposing to ask my opinion on any subject in which you are interested. Our dear Harriet's recovery (God be praised for it!) has left no wish in my heart so ardent as for your happiness. Permit me to say, my dear Lady Clementina, it is necessary for that of us both.
Indeed, madam, it is, said I, taking her hand. Tenderness, love, respect, I am sure, were in my countenance, if it spoke my heart. She condescendingly bowed upon mine: Tears were in her eyes: You pain me, Chevalier, you pain me, madam, by your goodness—How many of my friends have I made unhappy!
For some days past, said Sir Charles, I have observed, that you have seemed more uneasy than usual. Would to Heaven it were in my power to remove the cause!
Perhaps it may. Ah, Chevalier! I thought when I came into the compromise, that I might have made myself happier in it, than I now find I can be.
Dear Lady Clementina! said Sir Charles; and stopped.
Be not displeased with me, Chevalier. I must hold myself bound by it, if it be insisted on. But tho' my condescending friends urge me not by entreaties, by persuasions, see you not that their wishing eyes, and sighing hearts, break every hour the Articles agreed to?
Dear Lady Clementina!
I knew you would be angry with me.
I am not. It would be equally unfriendly and insolent if I were. But, my dear Clementina, what an affecting picture have you drawn of the resignation of parents to the will of their child, in an article which their hearts were fixed upon.
Add not weight, Sir, to my uneasy reflexions. I can hardly bear to see in them the generous suppression of their own wishes.
She then addressed herself to me.—Bear with me, dear Lady Grandison, if I cast an eye back to former situations. You know my whole story.—For a few moments bear with me.—I never, God is my witness, envied you. On the contrary, I rejoiced to find those merits which I had not power to reward, so amply rewarded by you; and that the Chevalier was so great a gainer by my declining his vows.—She stopped.
Proceed, dearest Lady Clementina, said I—Are we not sisters? And do I not know, that yours is the noblest of female minds?
I rejoice, Sir, from my heart, that I was enabled to act as I did.—
Again she stopped. Sir Charles bowed in silence.
But still I hoped, that one day my parents would have been overcome in favour of the divine dedication.
That was always my wish, till you, Sir, induced me to come into a compromise. And then I was resolved to make myself, if possible, happy, in the single Life allowed me. But what can I do? My former wishes recur. I cannot help it: And it seems evident to me, that there is but one measure, and that is the convent, which can make me happy.
Dear Lady Clementina! said Sir Charles, will you be pleased to allow me—
Olivia, Sir, interrupted she (you don't, perhaps, know that) reflects upon me. It was indeed a rash step which I took, when I fled to England: How has it countenanced the excursion she made hither? Tho', God knows, our motives were widely different: Hers was to obtain what mine was intended to avoid. But your sudden indisposition, madam, pointed the sting, and carried it into my heart. That flashed full upon me, the impropriety of my situation. Can there be, say, Chevalier, can there be, any expedient which will free me from reflexion, from slander, except that of the veil?
You lead the question, madam, replied Sir Charles: I but follow you. Surely there can.
You are not angry with me, Chevalier? You do not upbraid me with breach of Articles?
I do not, madam, while we only reason, not resolve. Assure yourself that your tranquillity of mind is one of the principal objects of my daily vows. Say, Lady Clementina, all that is in your heart to say. Your friend, your brother, hears his sister with all the tenderness of fraternal love.
How soothing! How kind!—You say there is another expedient. What, excepting marriage, is it?
Were it that, and that could be an acceptable expedient—We are only reasoning, madam; not resolving—
Do you, Chevalier, (with a look of impatience;) propose that to me.
I do not, madam—I said we were reasoning only.—But surely you may be very happy in the single Life. You may have thought of plans, which, on consideration, may not please you: But it is yet early. Lady Clementina has too much greatness of mind to permit any-thing that may be said by malevolent people to effect her. She knows her heart; and has reason to be satisfied with it. Were your former wishes to take place, will not ill-will and slander follow you into the most sacred retirements? There are several tender points to be considered in your past situation. These are considered by your parents. They have no view but to your happiness. You and they indeed have different notions of the means. They think marriage with a worthy man of your own faith, would tend to establish it. You think assuming the veil the only expedient. This subject has been much canvassed. They are determined not to urge you: Yet their judgments are not changed. Shall they not be allowed to wish? Especially when they urge not, speak not, their wishes? Your father was earnest with the count of Belvedere, in my hearing, when last in town, to give up all expectations from you. God preserve their lives till they see you happy! You must be convinced, that they are not so intent upon the means as to obtain the end.
My father, my mother, are all goodness!—God preserve their precious lives!—Tears trickled down her cheeks.
I am sure, my dear Lady Clementina, you cannot be happy in any state of life, if your choice, pursued, would make your parent; unhappy.—Could Lady Clementina, were she even professed, divest herself of all filial, of all family regards? Would not that very contemplative life, of which she is at present so fond, make her, when it was too late to retrieve the step (and with the more regret, perhaps, because it was too late) carry her thoughts, her affections, with greater force, back to parents, if living, so deservedly dear, to brothers so disinterestedly kind, to her; and who have all shared so largely in her distresses?
She sighed. She wept. O Chevalier! was all she said.
You cannot, madam, live only to yourself, for yourself: And you may live to your God in the world, perhaps, more efficaciously than in the convent, with regard to your soul's health, as you have such large ability to do good: For, wants not the world, as I have heretofore pleaded, such an example as you can give it?—The heart, madam, not the profession is the truly acceptable. Your maternal grandfather, tho' a sound Catholic, would have it, that there were many sighing hearts in convents; and on this supposition (confirmed to him by a singular instance which affected him) he inserted in his will the clauses which he thought would oblige you to marry. Your other grandfather joined in the enforcement of them.
And what, Sir, was the penalty? Only the forfeiture of an estate, which I wish not for; which none of us want. We are all rich. It is a purchased, not a paternal estate.
And purchased with what view, madam? And for whom?
I would have my family superior to such motives.
Must they not, my dear Clementina, be judges for themselves?
I do not believe, proceeded she, that there are many sighing hearts in convents: But if there were, and my friends would be satisfied (for that, I own, is an essential point with me) I should not, I am sure, add to the number of such. As to what you say of the world wanting such an example as I could set it, I have not vanity enough to be convinced by that argument. Whether my soul's peace could be best promoted in the world, or in the convent, must be left to me to judge; who know that in the turmoils and disturbances I have met with, both of mind and body, the retired, the sequestered life, is most likely to recompose my shattered spirits.
Those turmoils, those disturbances, madam, thank God! are over.
I pity, I can forgive, I do forgive, the poor Laurana. Ah Sir! you know not, perhaps, that LOVE, a passion which is often the cause of guilty meanness, as sometimes indeed of laudable greatness, was the secret cause of Laurana's cruelty to me. She hated me not, till that passion invaded her bosom. Shall I remember the evil of her behaviour, and not the good?
Admirable Clementina! said Sir Charles: Admirable lady! said his Harriet; both in a breath.
She was the companion of my childhood, proceeded the exalted Lady. We had our education together. I was the sufferer; thank God! not the aggressor. She has made me great, by putting it in my power to forgive her. Let all my revenge be in her compunction from my forgiveness, and from my wishes to promote her welfare!
And a revenge indeed would that be, said Sir Charles, were she, who had acted by an excellent creature, as she has done by you, capable of generous compunction. But, noblest of women, can it be expected, if you can forgive her, that your family should join, by giving up their reversionary expectance, to reward her for her cruelty to their child, who was entrusted to her kindest care and protection? Can you, madam, treat lightly those instances of your parents and brother's Love, which have made them resent her barbarity to you?—My dear Lady Clementina, you must not aim at being above Nature. Remember that your grandfather never designed this estate for Laurana. It was only to be provisionally hers, in order to secure it the more effectually to you; and, on failure of descendants from you, to your elder brother, who, however, wishes not for it. His heart is in your marriage. He only wishes, that it may not be the cruel Laurana's. If you can defeat the design of your grandfathers, with regard to your own interest, ought you to do injustice to your brother's claim?
Ought you think of disposing of your brother's right? Has not he much better reason to be considered by you for his affection, than Laurana has for her cruelty?—Abhorred be that sort of LOVE, my dear Lady Clementina, which is pleaded in excuse of barbarity, or of any extravagant, undutiful, or unnatural action!
She sighed. Tears again stole down her cheeks. After a short silence—O spare me, Chevalier!—Despise me not, Lady Grandison!—My enfeebled reason may lead me into error; but when I know it is error, I will not continue in it. I see that, with regard to my brother's interest in this estate, I reasoned wrong. I was guilty, my dear Lady Grandison, I doubt, in your eye, of a false piece of heroism. I was for doing less than justice to a brother, that I might do more than justice to an unnatural relation.
All that Laurana can hope from you, my dear Lady Clementina, said Sir Charles, is, that you will entitle her to the receipt of the considerable legacy your grandfather bequeathed to her—
And how is that to be done, interrupted she, but by my marriage?—Ah, Chevalier!
Such, indeed, is the state of the case. Such was it designed to be. I, madam, but state it. I advise nothing.
Still, Sir, the motive which may allowably have weight with my friends, ought not to have principal weight with me. Consider, Sir: Is it not setting an earthly estate against my immortal soul?
Far otherwise, madam. Can you so far doubt of the divine grace, can you so disparage your own virtues, as to suppose they want the security of a convent? Do justice, my dear Lady Clementina, to yourself. You have virtues which cannot be exerted in a convent; and you have means to display them for the good of hundreds. I argue not as a protestant, when I address myself to you. The most zealous catholic, if unprejudiced, circumstanced as you are, must allow of what I say.
Ah, Chevalier! how you anticipate me! I was going to charge you with arguing like a protestant.
Did not your grandfathers, madam, in effect, argue as I argue, when they made their wills? Did not your father, mother, uncle, brothers, thus argue, when they wished you to relinquish all thoughts of the veil? And are not the one, were not the others, all zealous catholics? Does not your brother the bishop, does not your truly pious confessor, acquiesce in their reasonings, and concur with (at least not oppose) the family-reasons?
She looked down, sweetly conscious. Sir Charles proceeded.
Has not your mother, madam, who gave you and your three brothers to the world, a merit both with God and man, one of you dedicated, as he is, to God (you see, madam, I address myself to you in the catholic style) which the cloistered life could not have given her? Are not the conjugal and maternal duties (performed as she has performed them) of higher account, than any of those can be, which may be exerted in the sequestered life? Clementina would not wish to be a better woman in the convent, than her mother has always been out of it.
She hesitated, sighed, looked down: At last, What can I say? said she. I have signed to the waving of my wishes after the veil; and must, I see, abide by my signing. It is, however, generous in you, Sir, not to plead against me that my act; and to hear me with patience want to be absolved from it. But I am not happy—She stopped; and turned away her face to conceal her emotion.
Sir Charles was affected as well as I.
She recovered her speech. I am, at times, said she, too sensible of running into flight and absurdity. My late unhappy malady has weakened my reasoning powers. You both can, I see you both do, pity me. Let me say, Chevalier, that when I came into your proposed compromise (which, after so grievous a fault committed, as the flying from my native country, and indulgent parents, I could the less refuse) I promised myself happiness in a situation, in which, I now see, it is not to be found. Your friendship, your united friendship for me, happy pair! I thought (as I knew I deserved it by my disinterested affection for you both) would contribute to it; I was therefore desirous to cultivate it. My wounded reason allowed me not to consider, that there were improprieties in my scheme, of which the world would judge otherwise, than I did: And when I heard of vile and undeserved reflexions cast upon me; but most when that sudden indisposition seized you, my dear Lady Grandison, and seemed to my frighted imagination to threaten a life so precious—
She paused: Then proceeded.—I have told you, madam, my reflexions.—Before you, Chevalier, I have said enough.—And now advise me what to do.—To say truth, I almost as much long to quit England, as I did to fly to it. I am unhappy. O my fluctuating heart! When, when, shall I be settled?
What, madam, can I say? answered Sir Charles: What can I advise? You say you are not happy. You think your parents are not so. We all believe you can make them so. But God forbid it should be to your own unhappiness, who have already been so great a sufferer, tho' hardly a greater than every one of your friends has been from your sufferings. I plead not madam, the cause of any one man. I have told you, that your father himself advises a certain nobleman to give over all hopes of you: And that person himself says, that he will endeavour to do so; first, because he promised you, that he would; and next, because he is now too well assured, that you have an aversion to him.
An aversion, Chevalier! God forbid that I should have an aversion to any human creature! I thought my behaviour to that Gentleman had been such—She stopped.
It was great; it was worthy of Clementina. But this is his apprehension: And if it be just, God forbid that Lady Clementina should think of him!
My dear Lady Grandison, do you advise me upon all that has passed in this conference. You assured me at the beginning of it, that my peace of mind was necessary to your happiness.
From my affection for you, my dear Lady Clementina, and from my affection only, it is necessary. You cannot have a distress, which will not, if I know it, be a distress to me. You know best what you can do. God give you happiness, and make yours the foundation of that of your indulgent parents! They are of opinion, that a settled life with some worthy man of your own country and faith, will greatly contribute to it. Your mamma is firmly of opinion it will: So is Mrs. Beaumont. You see that you cannot, in justice to your brother, and to his children yet unborn, as well as in duty to your deceased grandfathers, assume the veil: You see that the unnatural Laurana, whom you still are so great as to love, cannot enjoy a considerable legacy bequeathed her, but on your marriage.—If you have a dislike to the nobleman who has so large a share in the affections of all your family, by no means think of him. Rejoice, madam, in a single life, if you think you can be happy in it, till some man offer whom you can favour with your esteem. Let me be honoured mean time with the continuance of your Love, as I shall be found to deserve it. We are already sisters. In presence, we will be one; in absence, we will not be divided; for we will mingle souls and sentiments on paper.—
I was proceeding; but she wrapped her arms about my neck. She bathed my cheek with her tears.—O how generously did she extol me! how delighted, how affected, was the dearest of men! how delicate was his behaviour to both! the tender friend in her, the beloved wife, were with the nicest propriety, distinguished by him.
The dear Lady was too much disordered by her own grateful rapture, to recover a train of reasoning. She told me, however, that she would ponder, weigh, consider every thing that had passed.
God give her happiness! prays with her whole heart,
Your HARRIET GRANDISON.
Volume VII - lettera 53
Volume VII - Letter 54
LADY GRANDIDON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Thursday, May 17.
Lady Clementina is thoughtful, solemn, and shuns company. Not one word will anybody say to her of the Count of Belvedere: But as he is expected here every-day to take his leave, Sir Charles thinks she ought not to be surprised by his coming at unawares. She neither dined nor supped in company yesterday; nor breakfasted with us this morning. She loves, as you have heard, to walk in the garden. She diverts herself often with feeding the deer, which gather about her, as soon as she enters the park. Sir Charles just now passed her in the garden. He asked after her health.—My mind is not well, Chevalier!—God Almighty heal it! said he, taking her hand, and bowing upon it.—Thank you, Sir! Continue your prayers for me. That last conversation, Chevalier—But, adieu.
She took a path that led to the park. He looked after her. She turned once to see if he did. He bowed, and motioned with his hand as for leave to follow her. She understood his motion, and by hers forbid him.—Poor Lady!
Thursday Evening, Six o'clock.
Mr. Lowther returned from London about an hour ago. He has always been of opinion with the physicians of Italy, that a disorder of mind not hereditary, but circumstanced as Lady Clementina's was, will be in no danger of returning, or of becoming hereditary, unless on some new distress like the former. He expressed his wonder more than once, at her relations acquiescence with her plea, as she made that the principal against marriage; tho' he allowed it to be a noble and generous one in her. And now, in order to justify his opinion, he has taken, of his own accord, the opinions of the most noted London physicians: who entirely agree with him.
Saturday, May 19.
Lady Clementina has been generously lamenting to me the unhappiness of the cruel Laurana. What I hinted to Sir Charles, said she, of her Love for the Count of Belvedere, is but too true. I have been urged to have compassion, as it is called, on him. He should have showed some for her. She was proposed to him. He rejected the proposal with haughtiness: But, I believe, knew not how much she loved him. I have faint remembrances of her ravings, as I may call them, for him, to her mother and woman: Sometimes vowing revenge for slighted Love—Poor Laurana was another Olivia in the violence of her passion.
In the few lucid intervals I had when I was under her management. I always expected that these ravings would end in harder usage of me. Yet even then, when I had calmness enough to pity myself, I pitied her. O that the Count would make her happy, and could think himself happy in her!—
She asked me if Sir Charles were not indeed inclined to favour the Count?
He wishes you, madam, to marry, answered I, because he thinks (and physicians of Italy and England, and Mr. Lowther, concur with your parents wishes) if there were a man in the world whom you could consent to make happy, the consequence would not only make your whole family so, but yourself. But the choice of the man, he thinks, should be entirely left to you: He thinks that the count, so often refused, ought not to be insisted on; and that time should be given you.
Let me ask you, Lady Grandison, as one sister to another, Could you, in my situation, have resolved to give your hand—She stopped, blushed, looked down. I snatched her hand, and lifted it to my lips—Speak your whole Heart, my Clementina, to your Harriet.—But yet I will spare you, when I understand your meaning. Noblest of women, I am not Clementina. I could not, situated as you once were, all my friends consenting, and the man—such as you knew him to be, have refused him my hands as well as heart. But what may not be expected from a Lady, who, from a regard to her superior duties could make the most laudable passion of inferior force?—You have already overcome the greatest difficulty; and when you can persuade yourself that it is your duty to enter into new measures, I am sure, whatever they may be.—
Dear Lady Grandison, say no more—My duty—How delicate are your intimations!—What a subject have we slid into!—Believe me, I am incapable—
Of any thought, of any imagination, interrupted I, that an angel might not own. It would be an injury to your Harriet's emulative Love of you, were you but to suppose any assurances of your greatness of mind necessary.
But I am at times pained, generous Lady Grandison, for what your friends may think, may wish—O that I were in my own country again!
They wish for nothing but your happiness. Lay down your own Plan, dear Lady: Chalk out your future steps. Look about you, one, two, three years, in the single life: Assure your indulgent parents—
Hush, hush, hush, hush, my dear Lady Grandison, gently putting her hand on my Mouth: I will, I must, leave you!—O my fluctuating heart!—But whatever I shall be enabled to do; whose-soever displeasure I may incur, do you continue to love me; still call me Sister; and, through you, let me call Sir Charles Grandison my Brother; and then shall I have a felicity that will counter balance many infelicities.
She hurried from me, not staying to hear the affectionate assurances of my admiring Love, that were bursting my lips from a heart fervently desiring to comply with every wish of hers.
Sunday, May 20.
The Marquis is slightly indisposed. The Marchioness is not well. Lady Clementina applying to Mrs. Beaumont for consolation on the occasion, owned, that were their indispositions to gather strength, she should be too ready for her peace of mind, to charge them to her own account. Mrs. Beaumont generously consoled her, without urging one syllable in favour of the man, who has so large an interest in the hearts of all her family, her own excepted. She herself mentioned with Approbation to Mrs. Beaumont, some particulars of the Count's munificence, and greatness of mind, that had come to her knowledge: But wished he could think of her cousin Laurana. Her Camilla came in. She asked with anxious duty, after her Mother's health; and withdrew in Tears, to attend her.
Monday, May 21.
Well, but now, I Charlotte G. who have taken up Harriet's pen, say, these tears will soon be dried up. The Marquis and his Lady are both better. The Count is arrived; Signors Juliano and Sebastiano with him. Did you not see the Count when he was in town, Lucy? A pretty man, upon my life, were he not quite so solemn: But that very solemnity will make for him with the fair romancer; Is he not come, as Lee says, in his Theodosius,
—"To take eternal leave?
"Not to vouchsafe to see him, would be scorn,
"Which the fair soul of gentle CLEMENTINA
"Could never harbour."
Accordingly, on his arrival, not unsent to, but almost unnexpected, down she came to tea; and with such a grace!—Indeed, my dear and venerable Mrs. Shirley, she will be a good Girl. All will come right. She was a little solemn indeed in her serenity: But she plainly put herself forward to speak. She seemed to pity the Count's confusion (who, poor soul! knew not how to speak to her) and relieved it by enquiring after his health, as he had not been well. She addressed herself to him once or twice on indifferent subjects; and pleased every-body by her behaviour to him. Nay, they talked together a good while at the window, he, and she, and Mrs. Beaumont, very freely about England and Italy, comparing in a few instances, these gardens with those of the Marquis at Bologna. No very interesting conversation indeed; but the good Count thought himself in paradise. Yet he fears he shall to-morrow be allowed to take a long, long leave of her. He goes to France and Italy; not to Spain. I like him for that, it would only be distressing himself, further, he says, were he to amuse a worthy family who have invited him thither with a view that can never be answered, while Clementina remains unmarried.
My brother continues to insist upon it, that not one word shall be said in the Count's favour. Searoom, and Land-room, Mrs. Shirely, as I said once before—Where did he learn so throughly to understand the perverseness of a female Heart?
By Lady Grandison.] You see, my grandmamma, what Lady G. has written. Her sweetly playful pen may divert you. Her heart feels not, as mine does, the perplexities of the dear Clementina: But I yield with grateful pleasure to a pen so much more lively, than that of
Your HARRIET GRANDISON.
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Volume VII - Letter 55
LADY G. TO MISS SELBY.
Tuesday, May 22.
And so, Lucy, your day is fixed. May next Thursday be a happy one, and reward the heroic girl who so nobly conquered a first Love, on the discovered unworthiness of the man. And you own that your heart is far from being indifferent to Lord Reresby—Good girl!—Confirmation of all my Doctrines. We women prate and prate of what we can, and what we can-not; what we ought, and what we ought-not, to do: But none of us stay-till-we-are-asked mortals know what we shall, or can do, till we are tried by the power of determining being put into our hands. Was it possible for me to have loved that sorry wretch Anderson, so well as I really love my honest Lord G? It was not. But tho' I name that creature myself, never do you presume to do it. I blush even to this hour at looking back to certain giddinesses that debased my character—But let me quit a subject so disagreeable.
Lady Clementina has had a bad night, it seems—Came not down to breakfast. The poor Enamore too was in despair. I tried to hearten him up a little: But my brother will not let any body flatter him with a hope that too probably may end in disappointment.
Yonder [I am writing at my window, you must know] is the fair Inflexible musing in the garden. I have a good mind to call to her; for I see by her motions and downcast looks, that Reverie is no favourable sign for the Count—No need of my calling to her; my Brother has this minute joined her. As soon as he came in sight, she went to him.—Now, dear brother, put in a word for the poor man.
Well, but Lucy, this Lord of yours must come among us. He shall not carry you to Ireland this year. Let all who would be good husbands and good wives, come to Grandison-hall, and learn: And, pray, let them come while I am here. Yet I have something to say against our Harriet too.—She is so taken up with her heroic friendship, that Clementina is now almost the only subject of her pen. What godlike instances of my brother's goodness does she leave untold tho' she admires him for them, as much as ever! Every rising, every setting sun, are witnesses of his divine Philanthropy. I suppose she looks upon his praises now to be her own. Well she may. Never were hearts so united, so formed for one another. But Harriet used to praise herself formerly; Did she not, uncle Selby?
Believe me, I will praise my honest man whenever he gives me cause. For instance; Yesterday, I was well enough pleased with what he said to my brother.—You, Sir Charles, ought not to give yourself up to a private life. Your country has a claim upon such a character as yours.
Without doubt, said I—Shall we, my-Lord, make my brother an ambassador, or a justice of peace? Lord G. rubbed his forehead; but seeing me smile, his countenance brightened up. Don't you know, Charlotte, said my brother, that nothing but the engagements our noble guests have given me, would have prevented me from acting in the useful character you have last named?
O that you had, brother! What admirable causes would then have been brought before US, en dernier ressort! How delightfully would your time have been taken up with the appeals of scolding wives, forsaken damsels, and witches presumptive!
Lady G. must be herself, whatever be the subject, replied Sir Charles. You and I love her, my Lord, for her charming vivacity. But think you, my sister, that a day spent in doing good, be the objects of it ever so low, is not more pleasing to reflect upon, than a day of the most elegant indulgence? Would persons of sense and distinction (myself out of the question) more frequently than they do, undertake the task, it would be lighter to every one, and would keep the great power vested in this class of magistrates, and which is every year increasing, out of mean and mercenary hands. And, surely, men of consideration in the world owe it to their tenants and neighbours, and to those of their fellow-creatures to whose industry they are obliged for their affluence, to employ in their service, those advantages of rank and education, which make it perhaps easy for them to clear up and adjust, in half an hour, matters that would be of endless perplexity and entanglement to the parties concerned.
Mind this, uncle Selby; for I think you are too fond of your own ways and your own hours, to do your duty as an active justice, tho' of the quorum.
But I should have told you, Lucy, how this conversation began. I got the occasion for it out of Dr. Bartlett afterwards. You must know, that I visit him now and then as Harriet used to do, to learn some of my brother's good deeds, that otherwise would not come to our knowledge; by which I understand that notwithstanding he gives his guests so much of his company, and appears so easy and free among us, yet, that every beneficent scheme is going on: Not one improvement stands still: He knows not what it is to be one moment idle.
Dr. Bartlett tells me, that some gentlemen of prime consideration in the county, have been offering my brother their interest against the next election. He modestly acknowledged the grateful sense he had of the honour done him; but declined it for the present, as having been too little a while returned into his own country, after so long an absence, to be as yet fit for a trust so important. We young men, said he, are apt to be warm: When we have not studied a point throughly, we act upon hasty conclusions, and sometimes support, sometimes oppose, on insufficient grounds. I would not be under Engagements to any party: Neither can I think of contributing to destroy the morals and health of all the country people round me, to make myself what is called an Interest. Forgive me, gentlemen: I mean not to slight your favours: But on such an occasion, I ought to be explicit.
But, after the gentlemen were gone. There is a county, Dr. Bartlett, said he, of which I should be ambitious to be one of the representatives, had I a natural interest in it; because of the reverence I bear to the good man, to whom in that case I should have the honour to call myself a colleague. When I can think myself more worthy than at present I am, of standing in such a civil relation to him, I shall consider him, as another Gamaliel, at whose feet (so long absent as I have been from my native country) I shall be proud to be initiated into the service of the public.
It is not difficult to guess, who my brother—But my Marmouset is squalling for me; and I must fly to silence it.
Now, Lucy, that I have pacified my Brat, do I wish you with me at my window. My Brother and his Harriet only, at this instant walking almost under it, engaged in earnest conversation: Seemingly, how pleasing a one! admiration and tenderness mingled in his looks: In her, while he speaks, the most delighted attention: When she answers, love, affiance, modest deference, benevolence, compassion; an expression that no pen can describe—Knowing them both so well, and acquainted with their usual behaviour to each other, I can make it all out. She is pleading, I am sure, for Clementina. Charming pleader!—Yet, my dear Mrs. Shirley, I fear her reasonings are romantic ones. Our Harriet, you know, was always a little tinctured with Heroism; and she goes back in her mind to the time that she thought she could never be the wife of any other man than my brother (tho' then hopeless that he could be hers); and supposes Clementina in the same situation.
When I looked first, I dare say, he was giving her an account of the conversation that passed an hour ago, between him and Clementina. He had his arm round her waist, sometimes pressing her to him as they walked; sometimes standing still; and, on her replies, raising her hand to his lips, with such tender passion—But here she comes.
Harriet, if I am a witch, let Lucy know it. Here—read this last paragraph—Have I guessed right at your subject of discourse?—You will tell me, you say, in a Letter by itself—Do so.
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Volume VII - Letter 56
LADY GRANDISON TO MISS SELBY.
[In Continuation of Lady G's Subject.]
You need not be told, my dear Lucy, that our charming Lady G. is mistress of penetration. Your happy Harriet had been engaged in the most pleasing conversation. The best of husbands conceals not from her one emotion of his excellent heart. He is greatly distressed for Clementina. It would be unworthy of his character, if he were not: Yet he seems to think she may be happy with the Count of Belvedere: That is the point we have been debating. As Sir Charles would have been the man of her choice, but for an invincible obstacle, is it not owing, partly to his delicate modesty, that he thinks she may be so? What think you, Lucy?
Lady G. says, I make Clementina's case my own. Be it so; because so it ought to be. Could I have been happy with Lord D?—Call it romantic, if you please, Lady G.; I think it impossible that I could, even tho' I could not form to myself, that Sir Charles Grandison himself would make the tender, the indulgent husband he makes to the happiest of women.
Sir Charles gave me the particulars of the conversation that passed between him and Lady Clementina in the garden. He observed, that she is not a stranger to the Count's resolution, never to marry while she remains unmarried; and that it is the intention of that nobleman to return to Italy, and not go to Spain at all. Perhaps she had her information either from Camilla or Laura; who both heard him declare as much. If she has condescended to hear them talk on a subject which every body else has studiously avoided, she may also have heard from them many other particulars greatly to the Count's honour; for they are his admirers and well-wishers.
Sir Charles believes she will take a gracious leave of the Count before he sets out.
The solemn, the parting interview, was to have been in my drawing-room this afternoon: But Lady Clementina has given the Count an unexpected, and joyful reprieve.
She dined in company. We were all charmed with her free and easy deportment, as well to the Count, as to every-body else. His was not so easy. He, intending to bespeak the favour of half an hour's audience of her, in order to take leave of her, when she arose from table, was in visible agitations. How the poor man trembled! with what awe, with what reverence, as he sat, did he glance towards her! How did every-body pity him, and by their eyes beseech her pity for him! yet, in the same moment, our eyes fell under hers, as she looked upon each person; we all seeming unwilling to have her think we entreated for him by them. I thought I read in her lovely countenance more than once, compassion for him; yet, the breath hard-fetched, as often showed a sigh suppressed, that indicated, I imagined, a wish (also suppressed) after a life more eligible to her than the nuptial.
At last, when we women arose from table, he, as a man who must address her in haste, or be unable at all to do it, stepped towards her; retreated, when near her, as irresolute; and again advancing, profoundly bowing, Madam, madam, said he, hesitatingly—putting out his hand, as if he would have taken hers; but withdrawing it hastily, before he touched it—I hope—I beg—allow me—I beseech you—one parting moment.
She pitied his confusion: My Lord, said she, We see you to-morrow in the afternoon [Allow me, madam, to me—]She curtsied to him, and withdrew with some little precipitation; but with a dignity that never forsakes her.
Every man, it seems, congratulated the Count. Every woman (when withdrawn with her) Clementina. The Marchioness folded her to her maternal bosom—My daughter! My beloved daughter! My Clementina! was all she said, tears trickling down her cheeks—O my mamma! kneeling (affected by her mother's tears)—O my mamma!—was all the daughter could say. And rising, took Mrs. Beaumont's hand, and retired with her to her own apartment.
We see her now in the garden with that excellent woman, arm in arm, in earnest talk, as we sit by the window.
And now, my grandmamma, a word or two of dear Northamptonshire.
I have a Letter from Emily. I inclose it, with a copy of my answer. I hope it is not a breach of confidence to communicate them both to you, and thro' you, madam, to my aunt Selby. At present I wish the contents may be a secret to every-body else.
Don't let Lucy repine at her distant residence, if it must be in Ireland. It is generally the privilege of husbands to draw their wives after them. Sir Charles says it is but a trip to that kingdom: And having an estate in it, which he is intent upon improving, he will be her visitor; and so will his Harriet, you need not question, if he make her the offer of accompanying him. To you, my grandmamma, I know every part of the British dominions, where your friends have a natural call, is Northamptonshire. Lucy's grandmother, however will miss her: But has not she a Lucy in her Nancy? And has not her grandson James a chance (if Patty Holles will favour him) to carry to her another granddaughter? Besides, Lord Reresby, who is so good-natured a man, will not be in haste to quit the country where he has obtained so rich a prize. Sir Charles expects them both with him for a month at least, before they leave England.
Happy! happy! as the sixteenth of November to me, may be the twenty-fourth of May to Lucy, prays,
Her Ever affectionate
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Volume VII - Letter 57
MISS EMILY JERVOIS TO LADY GRANDISON.
Sat. May 19.
I have something to communicate to you, my dear Lady Grandison, and take your advice about: yet, so young a creature as I am, I am quite ashamed. But you must keep my secret from every living soul, and from my guardian too, for the present, since in writing to you, I think I write to him, as you know all his heart, and are so prudent a Lady. It is true, I was, (or I might have been, I should rather say) a forward girl with regard to him: But then my whole heart was captivated by his perfections, by his greatness of mind; that was all. May not a creature, tho' ever so young, admire a good man's goodness? May she not have a deep sense of gratitude for kindness conferred? That gratitude may indeed, as she grows up, engage her too deeply; and I found myself in danger; but made my escape in time. Thank God!—and thank you, who assisted me!—what an excellent Lady are you, that one can speak to you of these tender matters! But you are the Queen of our Sex, and sit inthroned, holding out your sceptre in pity to one poor girl, and raising another, and another; for it is glory enough for you to call the man yours, for whom so many hearts have sighed in secret.
But this was always my way—I never sat myself down to write to my guardian or to you, but my preambles were longer than my matter—To the point then—but be sure keep my secret.
Here every-body is fond of Sir Edward Beauchamp. He is indeed a very agreeable man. Next to my guardian, I think him the most agreeable of men. He is always coming down to us. I cannot but see that he is particularly obliging to me. I really believe, young as I am, he loves me: But every body is so silent about him: yet they slide away, and leave us together very often. It looks as if all favoured him; yet would not interfere. He has not made any declaration of love neither.—I am so young a creature, you know; and to be sure he is a very prudent man.
My guardian dearly loves him—who does not? His address is so gentle: His words are so soothing: His voice—To be sure he is a very amiable man! Now tell me freely—Do you think my guardian (but pray only sound him—I am so young a creature, you know) would be displeased if matters were to come to something in time?—Three or four years hence, suppose, if Sir Edward would think it worth while to stay for so silly a creature?—I would not think of sooner.—If not, I would not allow myself to be so much in his company, you know.
He has a very good estate; and tho' he is ten or twelve years older than I; yet he never will be more than that; since every year that goes over his head, will go over mine likewise—So you will be pleased to give me your opinion.
And here all the world is for marrying, I think. Miss Selby is as good as gone, you know. Her brother courts Miss Patty Holles: Miss Kitty is not without her humble servant. Nay, Miss Nancy Selby, for that matter—But let these intelligences come from themselves.
You, my dear Lady Grandison, have led up this dance—So happy as you are—I think it is a right thing for young women to marry when young men are so desirous to copy Sir Charles Grandison.
Hasten to me your advice, if but in six lines. We expect Sir Edward down next week. I must like his company, because he is always telling us one charming thing or other of my guardian; and because he so sincerely rejoices in your happiness and his.
God continue it to you both. This is our prayer night and morning, for our own sakes, as well as yours, believe
Your ever-obliged and affectionate
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Volume VII - Letter 58
LADY GRANDISON TO MISS JERVOIS.
Tuesday, May 22.
I have a great opinion of your prudence, my Love: And I have as high a one of Sir Edward Beauchamp's honour and discretion. His fortune, his merit are unexceptionable. Your guardian loves him. If you could certainly love Sir Edward above all men, and he you above all women, I am of opinion your guardian will think no alliance can be happier for both, and for himself too: For you know, my dear, that your welfare is near his heart. Let me, my sweet Emily, refer you as to your conduct on this occasion, to my own almost-unerring counsellors, my grandmamma and aunt Selby. Don't be ashamed to open your heart to them: Are you not under their wings? I will so manage, that they shall lead the way to your freedom with them. Your difficulties by this means will be lessened. Sir Charles will pay the greatest attention to their advice. But yet I must insist, that the reference to them, shall not deprive of my Emily's confidence,
Her ever-affectionate Sister, and faithful Friend and Servant,
Volume VII - lettera 58
Volume VII - Letter 59
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Thursday, May 24.
I begin this Letter, as I ended my last to Lucy—May this day be a happy one to her, and then it will be so to us all—My dear aunt Selby will be so good as to favour me with a line to acquaint me with the actual celebration; that I may ground upon in my earliest felicitations.
I will proceed with an account of what so much engages the attention of every one here.
I told you in one of my former, that Lady G. had shown to Mrs. Beaumont Lucy's account of the conversation held at Shirley-manor, on the subject of a first Love, with Lady G's sprightly decision upon it, and upon the appeal made to me.—I must now tell you, that Mrs. Beaumont prevailed upon Lady Clementina to desire me to read it to her. She made her request; and I obeyed. Mrs. Beaumont was present. Not a word by way of application did either she or I suggest, when I had done reading. Lady Clementina's complexion often changed as I read. She was not at all diverted with those lively parts of Lady G's decision, that I ventured to read; tho' she is an admirer of her sprightly vein. She looked down most of the time in solemn silence. And at last, when I had ended, she, sighing, started, as if from a reverie, arose, curtsied, and withdrew; not having once opened her lips on the subject.
The Bishop, Signor Jeronymo, and the two young Lords, just now joined to request Sir Charles to become avowedly an advocate for the Count to Lady Clementina. They urged, that she was balancing in his favour; and that Sir Charles's weight would turn the scale: But Sir Charles not only desired to be excused, but begged that she might not be solicited by any-body on that subject—May she not, asked he, by reasoning with herself, and considering what she can do, with justice to the Count and herself? Her future peace of mind is concerned that her determination now, shall be all her own. Leave her no room for after-regret, for having been persuaded against her mind. If persuasion only is wanting, will she not wrap herself up in reserve, to keep herself in countenance for not having been persuaded before?
Pursuant to this advice, the Marchioness in a conversation with her beloved daughter, that might have led to the subject on which their hearts are fixed, declined it; saying, Whatever my child shall determine upon, with regard to any plan for her future life, let her whole heart be in it: her choice shall be ours.
Lady Clementina excused herself from breakfasting with us; but obliged us with her Company at dinner. At, and after dinner, Sir Charles directed himself to all the company, in turn, in his usual agreeable manner. How does his benign countenance always shine when he finds himself surrounded at table by his friends the larger the circle, the more diffused is his cheerfulness. With what delight does his Jeronymo meditate his every graceful motion! He dwells upon what he says, and by his eyes cast with less complacency on an interrupter, seems to wish every one silent, when Sir Charles's lips begin to open.
After he had gone round his ample table, saying something obliging to all (in a manner calling forth every one, to say something in his or her own way) he addressed himself more particularly to the Count, and led him into subjects both learned and familiar, in which he knew he could shine; and in which he did. It was doubly kind in Sir Charles to do so; for the poor man's reverence for the mistress of his fate, had taken all courage from his love, and he wanted to be drawn out. Never can bashful merit appear to so much advantage, as in Sir Charles's address to it.
How much soul did Lady Clementina show in her eyes! she was very attentive to every one that spoke. She asked the Count questions more than once on some of the subjects he was led to talk of. My eyes, as I could feel, glistened when she did, to see how those of her father and mother rejoiced, as I may say, on the notice she took of him. Lady Clementina could not but observe how delightfully her complaisance to the Count was received by all her family—Is it possible, thought I, more than once, were I in the situation of this admirable Lady, to avoid obliging such indulgent parents with the grant of all their wishes, that depended on myself; having given up voluntarily the man I preferred to all others?
Signor Sebastiano dropped a hint once, of his own, and the Count's, and Signor Juliano's intention of setting out; mentioning a care for their baggage, which by this time, he supposed, had reached Dover: But Clementina turning an attentive ear to what he said, Sir Charles was afraid she would take this hint as a design to hasten her resolution; and said, We will not sadden our hearts with the thoughts of parting with any of our friends.
Thursday Evening, Eight o'Clock.
A Letter is this moment brought from town by an especial Messenger, to Signor Jeronymo. The whole family, Lady Clementina excepted, are got together upon the contents.
The Marchioness, just now, taking my hand, tears starting in her eyes, Ah, madam, said she, the poor wretch Laurana—Just then the Bishop and Father Marescotti entering, she put the Letter into my hand. I shall inclose a translation of it.
To Signor Jeronymo della Porretta.
May 6. N. S.
The dear perverse Clementina may be now indulged, if she has not from principles of gratitude already yielded to give her hand to our Belvedere. I hope she has. One of our motives for urging her, is at an end. Laurana is no more. Her mother kept from her as long as she could, the news of the Count's accompanying you all to England: But when she was told that he was actually in that kingdom; and that my sister was heard of; she doubted not but the consequence would be the defeating of all her hopes with regard to him. A deep melancholy first seized her; that was succeeded by raving fits; and it is suspected that the poor creature, eluding the care of her attendants, came to a miserable end. Lady Sforza is inconsolable. A malignant fever is given out—so let it pass—SHE, whom the wretched creature most cruelly used, will shed a tear for the companion of her childhood: But who else, besides her own mother, will?—Yet, if the manner of her quitting life were as shocking as it is whispered to me it was—But I will not enquire further about it, for fear I should be induced to show compassion for a wretch who had not any to show to a near relation, entrusted to her care, and who had a right to her kindest treatment.
What a glorious creature, as you paint him, as Fame, as father Marescotti, and you all report him, is your Grandison! Your Sister-in-law must, I believe, be complied with. Ever since you all left Italy, she has been earnest to attend you in England. She even threatens to steal from her husband, if he consent not, and now Clementina has shown her the way, procure a passage thither, to try my Love in following her, as that naughty girl has all yours, in a season—But what is the inclemency of season, what are winds, mountains, seas, to a woman who has set her heart on an adventure? This I must allow in her favour, if she should fly from me, it will be to the father, mother, brothers, from whom her Sister fled—Naughty, naughty Clementina! Can I forgive her? Yet if her parents do, what have I to say?
I do assure you, Jeronymo, that I unfeignedly join with you in your joy, that so deserving a man is not a loser by a disappointment, that we all know sat heavily upon him, at the time. I even long to see upon one spot, two women, who are capable of showing, as they have shown, a magnanimity so very rare in the Sex: One of whom, let me glory, is my Sister. But Clementina ever was one of the most generous, however, in some points, unpersuadable, of human creatures.
Let Belvedere know how much I love him. Whatever be his fate with one of the perversest, yet noblest-minded of women, I will ever look upon him as my brother.
Reverence, duty, love, and the sincerest compliments, distribute, as due, my dear Jeronymo, from
Volume VII - lettera 59
Volume VII - Letter 60
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Friday, May 25.
Unhappy Laurana! Sir Charles expressed great concern for the manner of her death. How can you, brother, said Lady G. (when we three only were together) be concerned for so execrable a wretch!
Shall a human creature perish, replied he, and its fellow-creature not be moved? Shall an immortal Being fix its eternal state by an act dreadful and irreversible; by a crime that admits not of repentance; and shall we not be concerned? this indeed was owing to distraction: But how ill was such a soul as Laurana's prepared to rush into Eternity?—Unhappy Laurana!
It is not thought fit, for obvious reasons, to acquaint Clementina with the contents of the general's Letter.
At last, my dear grandmamma, the great point seems to be decided. Lady Clementina had for some time been employing herself in drawing up, in two opposite columns, the arguments for and against her entering into the marriage-state. She showed them to me, and afterwards to Mrs. Beaumont; but would not allow either of us to take a copy. She has stated them very fairly. I could not but observe to her on which side the strength lay.
This morning she gave us her company at breakfast-time for a few minutes only. She was in visible emotions; and seemed desirous of getting the better of them; but was unable; and therefore retired, She shut herself up, and about noon, sent, sealed up, a Letter; which I will English as well as I can; thus directed;
To her ever-honoured, ever-indulgent Father and Mother, Clementina della Porretta.
How did my whole Soul aspire after the veil!—Insuperable obstacles having arisen against the union of your child with one exalted man, how averse was I to enter into covenant with any other!
It was your pleasure, my Lord; it was yours, madam; that I should not be indulged in the aspiration. You had the goodness to oblige me in my averseness.
The Chevalier Grandison has since convinced me, by generous and condescending reasonings, that I could not, in duty to the will of my two grandfathers, and in justice to my elder brother and his descendants, renew my wishes after the cloister. I submit.
But now, what is to be done; what can I do, to make you, my dearest parents, and my brothers, happy? Olivia triumphs over me. My situation is disagreeable: I, who ought to be a comfort to my friends, have been, I still am, a trouble to them all.—The Chevalier Grandison and his excellent Lady, have signified to me, more than once, that they expect from me the completion of their earthly happiness: And what is this life, but a short, a transitory passage to a better?
Have I not declined accepting the vows of the first of men? The only man I ever saw with a wish to be united to him? Decline them on motives, that all my friends think do me honour?
Have I ever, dear as the struggle cost me, repented the glorious self denial? And what precedents of self-denial (wholly yours by laws divine and human, as I am) have you, my ever indulgent parents, set me?
Is there a man I would prefer to him whom my friends are solicitous to commend to my favour?
Cannot I, in performing my duty to my parents, perform all those duties of life, which performed, may entitle me to a blessed hope?
Shall I contend in and through life, to carry a point, that at the awful close of it will appear to me, as nothing?—
Let me make a proposal—On a supposition that you, Sir, that you, Madam (whose patient goodness to me has been unexampled), and every one of my friends, favour the Count of Belvedere as much as ever—I have always acknowledged his merits—
Permit me a year's consideration from the present time, to examine the state of my head and heart; and at the end of that year, allow me to determine; and I will endeavour, my dear parents, to make your wishes, and my duty, honour, conscience, (divested of caprice, fancy, petulance) my sole guides in the result, as well as in the discussion. The Chevalier Grandison, his Lady, Father Marescutti, and Mrs. Beaumont, shall be judges between my relations and me, if there be occasion.
But, as it would be unreasonable to expect, that the Count of Belvedere should attend an issue so uncertain; for I would rather die, than give my vows to a man to whom I could not do justice both with regard to head and heart; so, I make it my earnest request to him, that he will look upon himself to be absolutely free to make his own choice, and to pursue his own measures, as opportunities offer. Rejoiced at my heart should I be, to have reason to congratulate him on his nuptials with a woman of the soundness of whose mind he could have no doubt, and whose heart never knew another attachment.
I would humbly propose, as a measure highly expedient, that the ever-obliging Chevalier Grandison and his truly admirable Lady will permit us, as soon as possible, to depart from England. [O my friends accuse me not of levity in your hearts! I obeyed in the rash voyage hither, an Impulse that appeared to me irresistible] And let us leave it to his never-forfeited honour, to bring over to us, as soon as can be convenient, his Lady, his Sisters, and their Lords, as they have made us hope: And that a family friendship may be cultivated among us, as if a legal relation had taken place.
But allow me to declare, that if my cousin Laurana shall be found to have entertained the least reason to hope that she might one day be Countess of Belvedere, that that expectation alone, whatever turn my health may take, shall be considered as finally determining the Count's expectations on me; for I never will be looked upon as the rival of my cousin.
And now, blessed Virgin-mother of the God of my hope, do thou enable me to be an humble instrument of restoring to the hearts of my honoured and indulgent parents, and to those of my affectionate brothers and other friends, the tranquility of which I have so unhappily and so long deprived them; prays, and will every hour pray, my ever honoured and ever indulgent Father and Mother,
Your dutifully devoted CLEMENTINA.
Friday, May 25.
The Marquis was alone with his Lady in her dressing room when Camilla carried them this Letter. They opened it with impatience. They could not contain their joy when they perused it. They both declared, that it was all that should, all that ought to be exacted from her. The Bishop, Signor Jeronymo, and her two cousins, on the contents being communicated to them, were in ecstasies of joy.
All that the Count of Belvedere had wished for, was, that Lady Clementina would give him hope, that if she ever married, he might be the happy man; and for the sake of this distant hope, he was resolved to forego all other engagements. Sir Charles was desired to acquaint him with the happy tidings. He did, with his usual prudence: but his joy is extreme.
The Marquis and Marchioness were impatient to embrace and thank their beloved Daughter. The moment she saw them she threw herself at their feet, as they sat together on one settee, and were rising to embrace her—O my father! O my mother! Have I not been perverse in your eyes?—It was not I!—You can pity me!—It was not always in my power to think as I now do. My mind was disturbed. I sought for tranquility, and could no where find it. My brother Giacomo was too precipitating, yet, in his earnestness to have me marry, showed his disinterestedness. He gave me not time, as you both, thro' the advice of the common friend of us all have done. The nearest evil was the heaviest to me: I sought to avoid that, and might have fallen into greater. God reward you, my father, my mother, and all my dear friends, for the indulgence you have shown me!—To follow me too into foreign climates, at an unpropitious season of the year—And for what?—Not to chide, not to punish me; but to restore me to the arms of your parental love!—And did you not vouchsafe to enter into conditions with your child!—How greatly disordered in my mind must I be, if I ever forget such instances of your graciousness!
The tender parents pressed her to their bosoms. How did her two brothers and Mrs. Beaumont applaud her!—
O how good, said she, are you all to me! What a malady! A malady of the darkest hue! was mine, that it could fill me with such apprehensions, as were able to draw a cloud between your goodness and my gratitude; and make even your indulgence wear the face of hardship to me.
The Bishop thought it not advisable, that the Count, who hardly knew how to trust himself with his own joy, should be presently introduced to her. The rejoicing Lover therefore walked into the garden; giving way to his agreeable contemplations.
Clementina, her mind filled with self-complacency on the joyful reception her proposal had met with, went into the garden, intending to take one of her usual walks, Laura attending her. The Count saw her enter, and fearing to disoblige her, if he broke in upon her, in her retirements, profoundly bowed, and took a different path, but she, crossing another alley, was near him before he was aware. He started; but recovering, threw himself at her feet—Life of my hope! Adorable Lady Clementina! said he—But could not at the moment speak another word.
She relieved him from his confusion—Rise, my Lord, said she, I crossed to meet you, on purpose to exchange a few words with you, as you happened to be in the garden.
I cannot, cannot rise, till, thus prostrate at your feet, I have thanked you, madam, with my whole soul—
No thanks are due, my Lord, interrupting him. God knows what may happen in the next twelve months. Rise, my Lord. [He arose.] As a friend of our house, I will respect you: So I have heretofore told you: But for your own sake, for honour's, for justice sake, I think it necessary to tell you, you must not make an absolute dependance on me from what I have written to my Parents, tho' I repent not of what I have written.
I will not, madam: For one year, for many years; I will await your pleasure. If at the end of any limited period, after that you have named, I cannot be so happy as to engage your favour, I will resign to my destiny—Only, mean time, permit me to hope.
I mentioned, my Lord, that it was for your own sake, that I wished you not to depend upon a contingency. Be you free to pursue your own measures. Who can say, what one, two, or three years may produce? Maladies that have once seized the head, generally, as I have heard say, keep their hold, or often returned. Have I not very lately, been guilty of a great rashness? Believe me, Sir, if at the end of the allowed year, I shall have reason to suspect myself, I will suffer by myself. I ever thought you a worthy man: God forbid that I should make a worthy man unhappy. That would be to double my own misery.
Generous Lady! exalted goodness!—Permit me, I once more beseech you, but to hope. I will resign to your pleasure whatever it shall finally be; and bless you for your determination tho' it should doom me to despair.
Remember, my Lord, you are warned. You depend upon the regard all our house have for you. I owe it duty next to implicit, for its unexampled indulgence to me. Your reliance on its favour is not a weak one: But, O Count, remember I caution you, that your dependence on me, is not a strong me. Be prudent: let me not be vexed. My heart sickens at the thought of importunity. Opposition has its root in importunity. If you are as happy as I wish, you will be very happy. But at present I have no notion, that I can ever contribute to make you so.
He bent one knee, and was going to reply—Adieu, adieu, said she—Not another word, my Lord, if you are wise. Are not events in the hand of Providence?
She hurried from him. He was motionless for a few moments: His heart, however, overflowed with hope, love, and reverence.
On his reporting to the Marchioness, Mrs. Beaumont, the two Brothers, and me, what passed between the noble Lady and him, as above, we all congratulated him.
The warning Lady Clementina has given you my Lord, said Mrs. Beaumont, is of a piece with her usual greatness of mind, since the event referred to, is not, cannot be, in her own power.
There is not, said Signor Jeronymo, there can be but one woman greater than my sister—It is she, who can adopt as her dearest friend, a young creature of her own Sex in calamity (circumstances so delicate!) and for her sake, occasionally forget that she is the wife of the best, and most beloved of men.
Clementina, said the Bishop (the Count being withdrawn) will now complete her triumph. She has, upon religious motives, refused the man of her inclination; the man deservedly beloved and admired by all her friends, and by the whole world: And now will she, from motives, of duty, accept of another worthy man; and thereby lay her parents themselves, as well as the most disinterested of brothers, under obligation to her.—What a pleasure, madam, (to the Marchioness) will it be to you, to my honoured Lord, to my Uncle, and even to our Giacomo, and still more to his excellent wife, to reflect on the patience you have had with her, since her last rash step, and the indulgence shown her! Clementina now will be all our own.
Every one praised Sir Charles, and attributed to him the happy prospects before them.
Volume VII - lettera 60
Volume VII - Letter 61
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Monday, May 28.
The Marchioness having been desired to break to Lady Clementina the news of Laurana's death, as of a favour, she did it with all imaginable tenderness this morning: But the generous lady was affected with it.— "O my poor cousin! said she—Once she loved me. I ever loved her!—Had she time given her!—On what a sandy foundation do we build our schemes of worldly glory!—Poor Laurana!—God, I hope, has taken her to the arms of his mercy!"
The pious lady and her confessor have shut themselves up in the oratory appropriated for the devotions of this noble family, to pray, as I presume, for the soul of Laurana.
Every thing is settled according to a plan laid down by Lady Clementina, at the request of all her family. The Count and Signor Sebastiano, are to set out for Dover on Thursday next. In less than a month from their departure, the rest of our noble guests are to embark for France in their way home—All but Jeronymo. Sir Charles has prevailed, that he shall be left behind, to try what our English baths may contribute to the perfect re-establishment of his health.
This tender point having been referred to his admirable sister, she generously consented to his stay with us. She has still more generously, because unasked, released Sir Charles from his promise of attending them back to Italy, in consideration of his Harriet; since, at this time, he would not know how to leave her; nor she to spare him. But the next summer, if it be permitted me to look so forward, or the succeeding autumn to that, we hope to be all happy at Bologna. Lady L. Lady G. and their Lords, have promised to accompany us: So has Dr. Bartlett; and we all hope, that Sir Edward Beauchamp will not refuse to re-visit Italy with his friends.
Friday, June 1.
Six happy days from the date of the Letter which Lady Clementina wrote to her father and mother, has the Count passed with us; the happiest he often declared, of his life; for in every one of them, he was admitted with a freedom that rejoiced his heart, to converse with the mistress of his destiny. She called upon him more than once in that space of time, to behave to her, as a Brother to his Sister; for this, she thinks, the uncertainty of what her situation may be a twelvemonth hence, requires for both their sakes.
Sweetly composed, sweetly easy, was her whole behaviour to him and to every-body else, during these six days. The sisterly character was well supported by her to him: But in the Count, the most ardent, the most respectful, and even venerating Lover took place of the brotherly one. Signor Jeronymo loves his Sister as he loves himself; but the eyes of the Count compared with those of Jeronymo, demonstrated, that there are two sorts of Love; yet both ardent; and Soul in both.
The parting scene between Clementina and the Count, was, on his side, a very fervent, on hers, a kind, one. On his knees, he pressed with his lips, her not withdrawn hand. He would have spoken; but only could by his eyes; which run over—Be happy, my Lord of Belvedere, said she. You have my wishes for your health and safety—Adieu!
She was for retiring: But the Count and Signor Sebastiano (of the latter of whom she had taken leave just before) following her a few paces, she turned; and with a noble composure, Adieu, once more, my two friends, said she: Take care, my Lord, of Signor Sebastiano: Cousin, take care of the Count of Belvedere; curtsying to both. The Count bowed to the ground, speechless. As she passed me, Lady Grandison, said she, raising my hand to her lips, Sister of my heart; the day is fine; shall I, after you have blessed with your good wishes, our parting friends, invite you into the garden? I took a cordial leave of the two noble youths, and followed her thither.
We had a sweet conversation there. And it was made still more delightful to us both, by Sir Charles's joining us, in about half an hour; for the two Lords would not permit him to attend them one step beyond the court yard; though he had his horses, in readiness to accompany them some miles on their way.
When we saw Sir Charles enter the garden, we stood still, arm in arm, expecting and inviting his approach. Sweet sisters! Lovely friends, said he, when come up to us, taking a hand of each, and joining them, bowing on both; Let me mark this blessed spot with my eye; looking round him; then on me;—A tear on my Harriet's cheek!—He dry'd it off with my own handkerchief—Friendship, dearest creatures, will make at pleasure a safe bridge over the narrow seas; it will cut an easy passage thro' rocks and mountains, and make England and Italy one country. Kindred souls are always near.
In that hope, my good Chevalier; in that hope, my dear Lady Grandison; will Clementina be happy, though the day of separation must not be far distant. And will you here, renew your promise, that when it shall be convenient to you, my dear Lady Grandison, you will not fail to grace our Italy with your presence?
We do!—We do!—
Promise me again, said the noble Lady. I, too, have marked the spot with my eye (standing still, and, as Sir Charles had done, looking round her) The Orangery on the right-hand; that distant clump of Oaklings on the left; the Villa, the Rivulet, before us; the Cascade in view; that Obelisk behind us—Be This the spot to be recollected as witness to the promise, when we are far, far distant from each other.
We both repeated the promise; and Sir Charles said (and he is drawing a plan accordingly) that a little temple should be erected on that very spot, to be consecrated to our triple friendship; and, since she had so happily marked it, to be called after her name.
On Monday next, we are to set out for London. One fortnight passed we shall accompany our noble friends to Dover—And there—O my grandmamma, how shall we do to part!
It is agreed, that Mr. Lowther and Mr. Deane, tho' the latter, I bless God, is in good health; will next season accompany Signor Jeronymo to Bath. Sir Charles proposes to be his visitor there: And when I will give permission, is the compliment made me. Sir Charles proposes, to show him Ireland, and his improvements on his estate in that kingdom. Will not Lucy be rejoiced at that?—I am happy, that her Lord and she, take so kindly, the felicitations I made them both. They are always, my dear grandmamma, my uncle and aunt, and all my friends in Northamptonshire, sure of the heart of
Their and Your
Volume VII - lettera 61
Volume VII - Letter 62
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Sat. June 16.
I gave you, my dear grandmamma, in my two last Letters (Note: These do not appear), an account of our delightful engagements, among ourselves principally, and now-and-then at public places. What a rich portion of time has passed: And we have still the promise of a week to come. And how let me take a survey of our present happy situation.
Every thing that can be adjusted, is. The Count of Belvedere, as by Letters to Signor Jeronymo, is on his way to Italy, and not unhappy: Lady Clementina is mistress of every question, and the more studious, for that reason, of obliging all her friends. How joyfully do we all, in prospect, see a durable tranquillity taking possession of her noble heart! The Marquis and Marchioness have not one care written on their heretofore visibly anxious brows. Clementina sees, as every one does, their amended health in their fine countenances; wonders at the power she had over them, and regrets that she made not, what she calls, a more grateful and dutiful use of it.
Father Marescotti, the Bishop, Signor Juliano, compliment the English air, as if that had contributed to the alteration; and promise wonders from that and its salubrious baths for Jeronymo.
The highest merit is given to the conduct of Sir Charles, and to the advice he gave not to precipitate the noble Clementina.
Lord and Lady L. Lord and Lady G. when we are by ourselves, felicitate me more than any body else on these joyful changes; for they rightly say, that I could not but look upon the happiness of Lady Clementina, as essential to my own.
But your congratulations, my dearest grandmamma, I most particularly expect, that in this whole critical event, which brought to England a Lady so deserving of every one's Love, not one shadow of doubt has arisen of the tender, inviolable affection of the best of men to his grateful Harriet.
So peculiarly circumstanced as he was, how unaffectedly noble has been his behaviour to his WIFE, and to his FRIEND, in the presence of both! How often, tho' causelessly (because of the nobleness of the Lady's heart) have I silently wished him to abate of his outward tenderness to me, before her, tho' such as became the purest mind.—Nothing but the conscious integrity of his own heart, above disguises or concealments, as his ever was, could thus gloriously have carried him thro' situations so delicate.
He had, from the first, avowed his friendly, his compassionating Love, as well as Admiration, of this noble Lady: That generous avowal prepared his Harriet to expect, that he should behave with tenderness to her, even had not her transcendent worthiness done honour to every one who paid her honour. To her he applauded, he exalted his Harriet: She was prepared to expect that he would recognise, in the face of the sun, obligations that he had entered into at the altar: And both knew, that he was a good man; and that a good man cannot allow himself either to palliate or temporise with a duty, whether it regarded friendship, or a still closer and more sacred union. How many difficulties will the character and intervention of a man of undoubted virtue obviate! What cannot he effect? What force has his example! Sir Charles Grandison's Love is a Love to be gloried in. Magnanimity and tenderness are united in his noble heart. Littleness of any kind has no place in it: All that know him are studious to commend themselves to his favourable opinion; solicitous about what he will think of them; and, suppressing common foibles before him, find their hearts expand, nor know how to be mean.
O my God! do thou make me thankful for such a Friend, Protector, Director, Husband! Increase, with my gratitude to THEE, my merits to him, and my power of obliging him. For HIS SAKE, spare to him [This, my grandmamma, he bids be my prayer—I know it is yours] in the awful hour approaching, his Harriet; whose life and welfare, he assures her, are the dearest part of his own.
Volume VII - lettera 62
Volume VII - Letter 63
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
St. James's-Square, Monday, June 18.
Now, at last, my dearest grandmamma, is the day arrived, that we are setting out for Dover. We shall lodge at Canterbury this night, and reach Dover to-morrow. How sad our hearts!
Canterbury, Monday Night.
Here we are! How we look upon one another! The parting of dear friends, how grievous!—How does Sir Charles endeavour—But Lady Clementina is, to outward appearance, an Heroine. What a grandeur of soul! She would not be thought to be concerned at leaving Sir Charles Grandison: But I see she is inwardly a sufferer. Jeronymo is silent. I hope he repents not his stay to oblige his dear friend, and us all. The Marquis and Marchioness are continually comforting themselves (and declare it to be needful) with the hope of seeing us in a few months. Thank God, they have a finer season to go back, than they had to come hither: And they have found the jewel they had lost.
I should have told you, that Lord and Lady L. and Lord and Lady G. took leave of us at Rochester; thinking so large a train would be inconvenient to those to whom they wished to do honour. How tender was the parting; particularly between Lady Clementina and Lady L.!
Ten o'Clock Monday Night.
I am in my chamber here. Know not what to do with myself.—Yet, cannot write. Must again join company—Is not my Sir Charles in company?
Dover, Tuesday Night.
Here, here, we are! How foolish to attempt the pen! I know not what to do with myself. The vessel is ready; every one is ready. To-morrow morning by day-light, if the wind—O what company to one another! How does the dear Clementina now melt into tears and tenderness!—Dear Lady! What prayers has she put up for me! What tender blessings has she poured out upon me! How have we blessed, soothed, and endeavoured to console each other! What vows of more than sisterly affection!—Mrs. Beaumont! The excellent Mrs. Beaumont, She now is also affected—She never loved, at so short an acquaintance, she says, any mortal as she loves me. She blesses my dear Sir Charles for his tender, yet manly Love to me!—We have engaged to correspond with each other, and in Italian chiefly, as with Lady Clementina, in order to perfect myself in that language, and to make myself, as the Marchioness fondly says, an Italian woman, and her other Daughter.
Dover, Wednesday Morning.
Cruel tenderness! They would not let me see them embark. Sir Charles laid his commands upon me (I will call them so because I obeyed reluctantly) not to quit my chamber. Over-Night, we parted! What a solemn parting! Sir Charles and Mrs. Beaumont only—But are they gone? They are! Indeed they are—Sir Charles, to whom seas and mountains are nothing, when either the service or pleasure of his friends call upon him, is embarked with them. He will see them landed, and accommodated at Calais, and then will return to Dover, to his expecting Harriet. His Jeronymo, his Beauchamp, and good Dr. Bartlett, are left to protect and comfort her. What a tender farewell between the Doctor and Father Marescotti last night: They, also, are to be constant correspondents: The welfare of each family is to be one of their subjects.
Lady Clementina was not afraid of passing a boisterous Sea, and the Bay of Biscay, in a wintry season, when she pursued the flight that then was first in her view. Her noble Mother, while she was in search of her daughter, had no fears: But now, the pangs of uncertainty and ardor of impatience being over, they both very thankfully embraced Sir Charles's offer (his resolution, I should say; for he would not have been refused) to accompany them over. The Marquis complimented him, that every one would think themselves safe in the company of so good a man!—How will they be able to part with him! He with them!—But in a twelvemonth we shall all, God willing, meet again; and, if the Almighty hear our prayers, have cause to rejoice in Lady Clementina's confirmed state of mind.
The best of Men, of Friends, of Husbands, is returned from Calais, cheerful, gay, lively, lovely, fraught with a thousand blessings for his Harriet. We shall set out, and hope to reach Canterbury this night on our return to town.
Sir Charles assures me, that he left the dear Sister of my heart not unhappy. She was all herself at parting [His own words]; magnanimous, yet condescendingly affectionate [His words also]; as one, who was not afraid or ashamed of her Sisterly Love for him. He took leave of her with a tenderness worthy of his friendship for her; a tenderness that the Brave and the Good ever show to those who are deserving of their Love.
He particularly recommended it to her Father, Mother, the Bishop, and Father Marescotti (the two latter to enforce it upon the General) that they would not urge the noble Lady, not even upon the expectation she had given them; but leave her wholly to her own will, and her own way. They all promised they would; and, the poor Laurana being now no more, undertook for the General.
He tells me, that he had engaged the Court of Belvedere, on his departure from England, to promise, to make his court to her only by silent assiduities, and by those actions of beneficence and generosity which were so natural to him, and so worthy of his splendid fortune.
St. James's-square, Sunday Morning.
Last night, blessed be God, we came hither in health and spirits. We are preparing for church. There shall we pray for the travellers, and be thankful for ourselves.
I expect Lord and Lady L. Lord and Lady G. and my cousin Reeves's, according to the following billet from the ever-lively Lady G.
"My Harriet, thank God, is arrived, and in health and spirits. Caroline and Mrs. Reeves, I know, will long to congratulate you. I have therefore sent to invite them to dinner with you. Their good men, and mine of course, must be admitted. I know my Brother will not be displeased. He is indulgent to all the whimsies of his Charlotte that carry in the face of them, as this does, affectionate freedom. Besides, it is stealing time for him: I know he will not long be in town, and must see us all before he leaves it. He will hasten to the Hall, in order to pursue the glorious schemes of benevolence which he has formed, and in which hundreds will find their account.
"But let the green damask bed-chamber be got in a little sort of order, for a kind of nursery: Where we dine, we sup. My marmouset must be with me, you know. I have bespoke Lady L's—Mrs. Reeves is to bring hers. They are to crow at one another; and we are to have a squalling concern. As it is Sunday, I will sing an anthem to them. My pug will not crow, if I don't sing. Yet I am afraid, the little pagans will be less alive to a Christian hymn, than to the sprightlier Phillida, Phillida, of Tom. Durfey. I long to see how my agreeable Italian, poor thing! bears the absence of his father and mother. Bid him rub himself up, and look cheerful, or I shall take him into our Nursery, to complete the chorus, when our brats are in a squalling fit. Adieu till to-morrow, my dear, and ever-dear, Harriet!—"
Lady G. is a charming nurse. She must be extraordinary in whatever she does. Signor Jeronymo admires her of all women. But she sometimes makes him look about him. He rejoices that he is with us; and is in charming spirits. He is extremely fond of children; particularly so of Lady G's—It is indeed one of the finest infants I ever saw: And he calls it, after her, His Marmouset, hugging it twenty times a day to his good-natured bosom. It would delight you to hear her sing to it, and to see her toss it about. Such a Setting-out in matrimony; who would have expected Charlotte to make such a wife, mother, nurse!—Her brother is charmed with her. He draws her into the pleasantry that she loves; lays himself open to it; and Lord G. fares the better for their vivacity. Sir Charles generally contrives to do him honour, by appealing to him, when Charlotte is, as he complains, over-lively with himself: But that is, in truth, when he himself takes her down, and compliments her as if she were an overmatch for him. She often, at these times, shakes her head at me, as if she were sensible of his superiority in her own way.
But how I trifle!—I am ready, quite ready, my dear Sir Charles. Lead your ever-grateful Harriet to the house of the All-good, All-merciful, All-mighty. There shall I, as I always do, edify by your cheerful piety!
A new engagement, and of a melancholy kind calls Sir Charles away from me again. In how many ways may a good man be serviceable to his fellow-creatures!
About two hours ago, a near relation of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen came hither in Sir Hargrave's chariot-and-six (the horses smoking) to beg he would set out with him, if possible, to the unhappy man's house on the forest; where he has been, for a fortnight past, resigned to his last hope (and usually the physician's last prescription) The Air. The gentleman's name is Pollexfen. He will, if the poor man die childless, enjoy the greatest part of his large estate. Mr. Pollexfen is a worthy man, I believe, notwithstanding Sir Hargrave's former disregard to him, and jealousies (Note: See Sir Hargrave‘s letter to Dr. Bartlett, Vol. 6, enclosed in Letter 31 ); for, after he had delivered his message from his cousin, which was to beseech the comfort of Sir Charles's presence, and to declare that he could not die in peace, unless he saw him; he seconded Sir Hargrave's request, with tears in his eyes, and an earnestness that had both honesty and compassion in it. Sir Charles wanted not this to induce him to go; for he looks upon visiting the Sick, in such urgent cases, as an indispensable duty: And waiting but till horses had baited, he set out with Mr. Pollexfen with the utmost cheerfulness; only saying to me—It is a wonder, if the poor man be sensible, that he thought not of Dr. Bartlett rather than of me.
Mr. Merceda, Mr. Bagenhall, and now Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, in the prime of their Youth!—So lately revelling in full health, even to wantonness!—Companions in iniquity!—In so few months!—Thou, Almighty! comfort the poor man in his last agonies! and receive him! From my very soul I forgive him those injuries which I—But well I may—Since, great as they were, they proved the means of my being brought acquainted with the Lord of my wishes; the best of men.
Having filled my paper with the journal of near a week, I will conclude here, my dear grandmamma, with every tender wish and fervent prayer for the health and happiness of all my dear friends in Northamptonshire, who so kindly partake in that of
Their and Your
Volume VII - lettera 63
Volume VII - Letter 64
LADY GRANDISON TO MRS. SHIRLEY.
Wednesday, July 4.
Ah, my grandmamma!—The poor Sir Hargrave!—
Sir Charles returned but this morning. He found him sensible. He rejoiced to see him. He instantly begged his prayers. He wrung his hands; wept; lamented his past free life. Fain, said he, would I have been trusted with a few years trial of my penitence. I have wearied heaven with my prayers to this purpose. I deserved not perhaps that they should be heard. My conscience cruelly told me, that I had neglected a multitude of opportunities! slighted a multitude of warnings!—O Sir Charles Grandison! It is a hard, hard thing to die! In the prime of youth too!—Such noble possessions!—
And then he warned his surrounding friends, and made comparisons between Sir Charles's happiness, and his own misery. Sir Charles, at his request, sat up with him all night: He endeavoured to administer comfort to him; and called out for mercy for him, when the poor man could only, by expressive looks, join in the solemn invocation. Sir Hargrave had begged he would close his eyes. He did. He stayed to the last painful moment. Judge what such a heart as Sir Charles's must have felt on the awful occasion!
Poor Sir Hargrave Pollexfen! May he have met with mercy from the All-merciful!
He gave his will into Sir Charles's hands, soon after he came down. He has made him his sole executor. Have you not been told, that Sir Charles had heretofore reconciled him to his relations and heirs at Law? He had the pleasure of finding the reconciliation sincere. The poor man spoke kindly to them all. They were tenderly careful of him. He acknowledged their care.
I cannot write for tears.—The poor man, in the last solemn act of his life, has been intendedly kind, but really cruel, to me.—I should have been a sincere mourner for him (A life so mis-spent!) without this act of regard for me—He has left me, as a small atonement, he calls it, for the terrors he once gave me, a very large Legacy in money (Sir Charles has not yet told me what) and his jewels and plate—And he has left Sir Charles a noble one besides. He died immensely rich. Sir Charles is grieved at both Legacies: And the more, as he cannot give them back to the heirs; for they declare, that he bound them under a solemn oath (and by a curse, if they broke it) not to except back either from Sir Charles, or me, the large bequests he told them he had made us: And they assured Sir Charles, that they would be religiously bound by it.
Many unhappy objects will be the better for these bequests. Sir Charles tells me, that he will not interfere, no, not so much as by his advice, in the disposal of mine. You, madam, and my aunt Selby, must direct me, when it comes into my hands. Sir Charles intends, that the poor man's memory shall receive true honour from the disposition of his Legacy to him. He is pleased with his Harriet, for the concern she expressed for this unhappy man.
The most indulgent of husbands finds out some reason to praise her for every thing she says and does. But could HE be otherwise than the best of HUSBANDS, who was the most dutiful of SONS; who is the most affectionate of BROTHERS; the most faithful of FRIENDS: Who is good upon principle, in every relation of life?
What, my dear grandmamma, is the boasted character of most of those who are called HEROES, to the un-ostentatious merit of a TRULY GOOD MAN? In what a variety of amiable lights does such a one appear? In how many ways is he a blessing and a joy to his fellow-creatures?
And this blessing, this joy, your Harriet can call more peculiarly her own!
My single heart, methinks, is not big enough to contain the gratitude which such a Lot demands. Let the overflowings of your pious joy, my dearest grandmamma, join with my thankfulness in paying part of the immense debt for
Your undeservedly Happy
Volume VII - lettera 64
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