Arundel: By the author of The observer. ... [pt.1]
THE ſcene I am now entering upon ſtrikes my ſenſes with its novelty, but it does not ſatisfy my mind. Bereft of your ſociety, and taken off from the purſuit of thoſe peaceful ſtudies, in which we were jointly engaged, I feel myſelf at preſent in a moſt uncomfortable ſituation.
How it may be, when I am more familiarized to the modes and manners of the great world, I cannot pretend to ſay: as yet I ſee no cauſe to rejoice in the change my father has been pleaſed to make in the ſyſtem of my education: the alluring promiſes [Page 2] which dazzled him, never ſtruck me with the ſame force, and this eſtabliſhment, which he ſo greedily caught at, has, from the firſt moment he adopted it, invariably appeared to me in no other light than as a ſacrifice of my happineſs to his ambition; for, if I know myſelf, I am perſuaded I am ill qualified for my office, and little likely to find either credit or comfort in a ſtate of dependance.
I am at a loſs to gueſs what uſe ſuch ſmall talents as I am endowed with can be of to the great perſonage, whoſe fortunes I am now attached to. My ſlender ſtock of acquirements has been purely of the literary ſort, and having known no other training than in the fellowſhip of the Muſes, inter Sylvas academi, I ſhall be an awkward novice in the circle of the courtly graces.
It is ſurpriſing, my dear Charles, how much an academic air and addreſs embarraſs a man of ſenſibility in company of a certain ſort. I am not ſure but I ſhall be obliged to put myſelf under the hands of ſome one of thoſe advertiſing profeſſors, who undertake for Grown Gentlemen, and commence a courſe of private lectures; for I perceive there is more [Page 3] worldly reſpect paid to the accompliſhments of the dancing-maſter, than to all the learning of the ſchools.
Alas! my friend, the milk of our alma mater, which you and I have fed upon, is a diet too ſimple for the ſtrong ſtomach of ambition; the heavy demands which buſineſs makes upon the human conſtitution, and the daily drains of pleaſure will not be ſupported on ſo temperate a regimen; nor can all the demonſtrations of Euclid help you to the ſolution of one difficulty in the crooked ſcheme of politics.
There are more phoenomena in nature, Charles, than your philoſophy can account for: the eccentricity of a comet is not to be compared with that, in which ſome beings ſeem to move in their political as well as moral orbits; and though we have a ſyſtem for the natural ſolution of the tides of the ocean, it would be more than the genius of a Newton could perform to explain the tides and turns in the affairs of men.
The interior of a miniſter's houſe preſents a ſcene for curious ſpeculation; every domeſtic has an air of conſequence. I cannot [Page 4] bear the mock-majeſty of theſe upſtarts: they ſeem waiting to take meaſure of me by the attention or neglect I may chance to experience from their Lord: as yet, I have had ſo little of his Lordſhip's company, though I live under his roof, that they have drawn no abſolute concluſions for or againſt me: he received me in a manner I have no right to complain of, though a little more condeſcenſion would have pleaſed me better: the ladies of his family are not in town.
Two or three humble ſolicitors have already found their way to my apartment, and made ſuit to me in a ſtile that is painful to my feelings. Each of theſe poor languiſhing expectants would fain have perſuaded me into an opinion of my own conſequence, and how eaſy it was for me to ſerve him with my principal: I find I muſt ſubmit to heavy contributions on my patience and pity, if I perſiſt in lending an ear to every man's long-winded detail of grievances, and yet it is as hard to refuſe that conſolation to the wretched race of expectants, as it is to convince them I have nothing better to beſtow. But why will men miſunderſtand their own intereſt ſo [Page 5] totally as to be loquacious on ſuch occaſions? Every hour, that paſſes over my head, puts me more and more out of conceit with the ſituation I am in.
Happy are you, my dear friend, and happy may you continue to be in the enjoyment of thoſe placid ſcenes, where, amidſt the ſociety of nature's unperverted children, you can alternately enrich your mind with the diſcovery of truth, and delight your fancy with the ſports of fiction; contraſting the ſeverity of your academical reſearches with all the charms of claſſic taſte and elegance. Regular hours and temperate meals, with the ſtated returns of your collegiate duties and healthful recreations, compoſe that pure and primitive ſyſtem of life, which you enjoy and I have loſt: ‘Such art the ills which from ambition ſpring.’
I WONDER you could expect me to-day, when you might have recollected it was our cabinet dinner, and there was little or no chance of my getting down to you in the evening. I ſhould however have ſtrove hard for it, but we were unluckily pledged to a committee of Weſt India merchants, who held us by the ears till it was too late to leave town. If nothing unforeſeen ariſes, I ſhall be with you to-morrow; but take notice, I cannot ſet out till after my levee is over, which will hold till near four o'clock.
Apropos to all this, I am to inform you, that young Arundel is arrived; the obligations I was under to his father, upon election ſervices, engaged me in a promiſe to provide for his ſon; I have therefore taken him as my private ſecretary, and now find myſelf encumbered with a raw lad from the univerſity, [Page 7] full of Greek and Latin, which I have no uſe for, and poſſeſſed as it ſhould ſeem of no requiſites for the place I have promoted him to. What ſhall I do with him? If he had dropt from the moon he could not ſeem more out of his element. He is modeſt, reſpectful, and ſo ſilent, that I have ſcarce heard the tone of his voice. I think to bring him with me to Spring Grove, and turn him over to your Ladyſhip to poliſh off the pedantic ruſt of his Cambridge education. The Biſhop tells me he is a capital ſcholar, and has carried off all the prizes from his competitors; you, who have a ſtrong taint of the blue-ſtocking coterie, can beſt judge of that part of his character, I, who want only a ready penman and a methodical drudge, might have been better ſuited with the firſt plodding clerk I had picked out of my office.
Tell Louiſa I inſiſt upon her being well againſt the time we meet: I expect to find that freſh air, cold bathing and the exerciſe of riding will have repaired the ravages that late hours, hot aſſemblies and full drawing-rooms had made in the bloom of youth and beauty.
Good night to you.
YOU know my paſſion for retirement, and therefore cannot wonder at the partiality I have ever had for this delightful villa. It is now in prime beauty, and as the phyſicians have thought it neceſſary for Lady Louiſa to take the country air, my Lord has conſented to diſpenſe with my ſtaying any longer in town, and I have now been a whole week tête-à-tête with the dear girl, who has advanced in her recovery every hour. So many are the opportunities I have had of converſing with her, and ſuch is the openneſs of her nature, that I am now ſatisfied there was no ground for the ſuſpicion I had taken up of her having conceived [Page 9] a liking for that gay young libertine Sir George Revel. Certainly he was very particular in his aſſiduities on the night he danced with her at the ducheſs's aſſembly, and I muſt confeſs there was ſomething in her manner, and more particularly in her looks, which alarmed my motherly anxiety, which muſt be continually awakened for the ſafety of a young perſon ſo full of attractions, and withal ſo volatile as my Louiſa. I really think we have brought her out at too early an age, but nothing would put my Lord by from having her preſented, though ſhe had but juſt completed her ſixteenth year, and the conſequences were eaſily foreſeen. Surrounded by admirers, and followed by a crowd in every place ſhe enters, like ſome public ſpectacle, who can wonder if ſo young a head grows giddy with the flattery, that is paid her, and if her health is now ſuffering by the late hours and faſhionable diſſipations of a town life? but there is no laying any reſtraint upon my Lord's unlimited indulgence, and nothing is left for me but to lament in ſilence and obey. I muſt not however forget to acknowledge the relief I ſometimes have recourſe to, and which I am now availing myſelf [Page 10] of, whilſt I ſecretly unburthen my full heart to you, and you alone; for you can feel for me; your friendly pity lightens my load, and your better judgment corrects my weakneſs.
I know your ſentiments ſo well upon the ſubject of muſic, that I am almoſt afraid to tell you how much her talent in that captivating art is improved; I have heard you mention with regret the time, which young women are too apt to dedicate to that accompliſhment, and after all it muſt be owned a dangerous excellence when it is attained; for where the heart is actuated by thoſe tender propenſities, which are too evidently inherent in Louiſa's nature, I muſt admit that muſic is very truly, though poetically, called the food of love; and it is not ſo much the melting cadence of her voice, as the expreſſive language of her eyes, which makes me tremble for her during thoſe performances, which her father's vanity is for ever calling for. She is really ſo captivating, and ſo ſenſitive towards the admiration of thoſe ſhe captivates, that if I had any voice in the matter, ſhe ſhould not be ſuffered to diſplay her attractions ſo promiſcuouſly as ſhe does; nor would I indulge her predilection for thoſe [Page 11] ſoft and tender cantabiles, which ſhe generally ſelects for her performances.
I know you think with me on this ſubject, and I alſo know how well appriſed you are of my Lord's way of thinking, and the fruitleſs attempt it would be for me to oppoſe it. In this as in all things elſe I muſt ſubmit to his will and pleaſure:—but whilſt I am writing this his equipage is in ſight, and I muſt inſtantly break off and haſten to receive him.—To-morrow I will reſume the pleaſure I have now ſuſpended.
My Lord came down to us yeſterday in ſuch good ſpirits, that I am apt to think affairs of ſtate have taken ſome turn more fortunate for his adminiſtration, than has been uſual of late; but this I can only gueſs at, as I never know or wiſh to know any thing of politics and parties. No body accompanied him but a young gentleman whom he has juſt taken into his family as his private ſecretary; he is the only ſon of Dr. Arundel, a reſpectable clergyman in our county, and one whoſe intereſt and ſupport were of the greateſt ſervice to my Lord at the laſt general election: his father educated him [Page 12] for the church; my Lord ſays he has brought an excellent character from Cambridge, and indeed if I may judge upon ſo ſhort an acquaintance he ſeems well to deſerve it. By my Lord's manner of deſcribing him, in a letter he wrote to me the day before yeſterday, as a raw lad from the univerſity, I had formed myſelf to expect ſomething very awkward and uncouth in his appearance; but nothing can be further from it; for though he has none of that happy aſſurance, which puts our young men of faſhion ſo entirely at their eaſe in all companies, he has a natural good-breeding which pleaſes me much better; and his attentions, without ſinking into ſervility, are of that reſpectful yet manly caſt, which ſeem to indicate a proper underſtanding of himſelf as well as others. My Lord told me in a whiſper, that he had been greatly pleaſed with his converſation by the way, and that the prejudice of his firſt appearance had been entirely removed: I think, added he, I ſhall make ſomething of him in time; but I perceive at preſent he is too high-minded; for upon my informing him, that I ſhould appoint him a proper ſtipend from my private purſe, till I could otherwiſe provide [Page 13] for him, my young gentleman truly would not hear of it, and conteſted the point with me in a ſtile that I ſhould never have expected a dependant to make uſe of: I confeſs to you I was highly diſpleaſed with him at firſt, but in the end I paſſed it over and made allowances for his extreme ignorance of the world, imputing it to the pride of mind and ſelf-conſequence which theſe young academics are apt to contract at the univerſity.—To this I ſeemed to acquieſce, by obſerving that experience would make him wiſer; but I confeſs to you I drew very different concluſions in my own mind, and much more in Mr. Arundel's favor, than I ventured to expreſs, for it is not my way to oppoſe my Lord in any of his opinions.
After coffee was over nothing would content my Lord but that Louiſa muſt ſit down to her piano forte, and though the phyſicians had forbidden her to ſing, an air was called for and the favorite ſong in Perſeo was ſelected for her performance, though it concludes with a braveura that demands more than ordinary exertion: Mr. Arundel was ſoon after preſſed to take up his violin and accompany Louiſa in a concerto; this he would fain have declined, [Page 14] and ſpoke ſo modeſtly of his talent, that my Lord ſeemed diſpoſed to let him off, obſerving to me in a whiſper, that he concluded it was not worth the hearing. Louiſa in the meantime had turned over her books, and picked out a concerto, which ſhe told him was a favorite of her father's, and that he muſt abſolutely do his beſt to bear a part, for which purpoſe ſhe would take it in ſlower time to accommodate him. This command he obeyed without further heſitation, and to our great ſurpriſe executed it in ſo maſterly a ſtile, with ſuch excellence of taſte, tone and execution, as threw my Lord into abſolute raptures, who quite oppreſſed poor Arundel's modeſty with his applauſes. It was now in vain to think of ſtemming the torrent, for the harmonious rage had ſeized Louiſa as much as it had her father, and our young muſician ſorely againſt his will was made to accompany her in two of her beſt ſongs, which I muſt own he did with ſo much delicacy of expreſſion, as to make even me for the time almoſt as imprudent as my Lord; but at the concluſion of the ſecond air, having ſnapt one of his ſtrings, as I verily believe by deſign, he had not, or pretended that he had not, [Page 15] another; and ſo concluded our concert, to the great mortification of my Lord, and the fortunate reſcue of Louiſa's exhauſted ſpirits.
This morning my Lord went early to town, having left his young man with us till his return; and being Sunday and Louiſa's health making it not adviſeable for her to venture to church, we deſired Mr. Arundel to read the ſervice to us at home, which he did in ſuch a manner, as impreſſed me with regret, that talents, ſo adapted to the office he was performing, ſhould be diverted to leſs worthy purpoſes; and, thinking as I do of politics and all who are involved in them, I pitied the fate of this unhappy victim to dependance, and from my heart abhorred the mercenary motives of the father, who had withdrawn him from the ſervice of God and ſacrificed him to the mammon of ambition.
AS it hath now pleaſed the Giver of all good things to crown my humble endeavours with ſucceſs, and to permit me to exalt you to a ſphere, where your talents may have room for their diſplay, and your fortune, under prudent care and caution, may be finally eſtabliſhed to the extent of my moſt ſanguine hopes, through the favor of my gracious patron and benefactor, the noble Earl of G. it behoves me to give you ſuch rules for your conduct as may lead your inexperienced youth in the right road to preferment; and it will be your indiſpenſable duty to obſerve and follow theſe directions faithfully and implicitly at all times and on all occaſions, as I ſhall find needful for your government and guidance in the courſe of life, which you have now commenced.
[Page 17] Recollect, child, that I have now lived, (bleſſed be God!) to ſee many days; and, according to the computation of man's brief pilgrimage, may already account myſelf a man full of years. Old age and experience are the parents of wiſdom, and I truſt it is no vanity in me to preſume I am entitled to ſome attention on that account, having now for more than thirty years, without intermiſſion, ſuperintended the ſpiritual welfare of this populous pariſh, and lived in fair repute, not only with my own peculiar flock, but let me add, with all my neighbours round about. I muſt therefore know ſomething of life, and I ought to know it, for in this period I have looked it through and through—I have ſtudied not only books, but men and things, and compoſed many differences and difficulties amongſt my contentious brethren, hard and intricate in their nature, whereby I have done benefit to my fellow-creatures, and acquired the reputation of much wiſdom and diſcretion to myſelf.
Let me tell you therefore in the firſt place, that you ought on no account to have taken on yourſelf to reply as you did to your noble [Page 18] patron, touching the allowance, which he generouſly offered to you from his private purſe, till ſuch time as he could better provide for you. Why did you not apply to me for my advice in that particular? I ſhould have given you far different and better counſel: know you not, raſh young man, that it is both your intereſt and your duty to refuſe nothing? Can you not comprehend, impolitic and improvident as you are, that if his noble Lordſhip had paid you from his own pocket, it muſt in reaſon and the nature of things have quickened his ſpeed to exonerate himſelf from the incumbrance of your ſtipend? And what is the reſult of this? what, but a place in ſome branch of the revenue, or perhaps the portion of a place, equivalent at leaſt, if not ſuperior, in value to the amount of your private pay? Ah, fooliſh boy! well may I exclaim with the poet, Quale dediſti principium adveniens!—But go back to his Lordſhip and humble yourſelf in his preſence; peradventure he will treat it as a firſt offence and receive you to his forgiveneſs, in pity of your inexperienced youth and weakneſs. Tell him that I accept this generous tender with heartfelt gratitude and [Page 19] devotion; and when you have got it, look well to the diſpoſal of it, ſo as I may not be called upon to ſupply your exceedings, but manage your affairs with that oeconomy, which will be your beſt friend through life.
I am told his Lordſhip's patronage is prodigious: inform yourſelf well of all particulars, and be careful to minute down all offices and appointments within his gift, in a private book of your own, according to their real value and perquiſites, with proper comments upon the perſons of the reſpective incumbents, viz. as to age, health, infirmities, connections, &c. This will be to thee the very manual of wiſdom, and this I am well aſſured is the uſual practice with dependants in your ſituation, who have any foreſight and diſcretion.
Be always ready at the call, nay at the very nod of your principal; ſtudy his looks, ſo as to anticipate, if poſſible, his wiſhes, before he can give them utterance. Make friends with all that are of his family or connections; none are to be neglected by you, not even his domeſtics, for they have much to ſay, and many opportunities to ſay it in.
His Lordſhip, you well know, is of a lofty [Page 20] nature, high in blood, rich in honors, and replete with power, authority and wealth: his humour therefore muſt be your law, and in all things you muſt accord to it; if you thwart it, you are undone; if you ſooth it, your fortune is made.
The Counteſs is a moſt virtuous and amiable lady, reſpectable for her private and domeſtic qualities, but ſhe has little influence over his noble mind, and being altogether detached from great affairs, can be of little ſervice to your views, and you will do wiſely to proportion your attention to her accordingly.
It is not ſo with the young and beauteous lady Louiſa, for ſhe, as I can witneſs, is her father's darling, and has much to ſay. Let your devoirs to this lovely favorite be dedicated with the moſt profound devotion; herein you will be furthered by your ſkill and addreſs in muſic, to which it ſeems both ſhe and your noble patron alſo are much devoted.
Let theſe few maxims ſuffice for the preſent; they are however, though few in number, well worthy your attention for their importance. Weigh them thoroughly in your thoughts, write them on the tablet of your [Page 21] heart, yea, bind them (in the ſpirit of the ſacred metaphor) as frontlets between your brows; and fail not to bear in mind, that I am as you deſerve,
Your friend to ſerve you, and your affectionate father, JOSEPH ARUNDEL.
I Am not ſure if I told you in my laſt that my Lord conſents to let us remain here for the ſake of Louiſa's recovery; and as the ſpring is already ſo far advanced, we ſhall go no more to town this ſeaſon, which I am moſt ſincerely thankful for; and as Louiſa acquieſces with a good grace in the meaſure, all is well, and here we are fixed for the ſummer.
Our new acquaintance has been very agreeable to us, and really helped us to paſs our time much pleaſanter than we could otherwiſe have diſpoſed of it. How much did I wiſh [Page 22] for you to have been of our party! for he is abſolutely the very beſt reader I ever liſtened to: if I may judge by the ſubjects he ſelected for our hearing, he had ſomething more in view than merely to entertain us, for nothing could be better choſen; and where any explanation was wanting, he ſupplied it in a manner, that made us oftentimes more indebted to the commentator than the author. It is matter of aſtoniſhment to me how ſo young a man can have ſtored his mind with ſuch a fund of learning, and of ſo many various ſorts, for he ſeems maſter of all ſubjects that are thrown in his way: but theſe are matters out of my depth; you would be fully competent to pronounce upon his merit, and to you I muſt refer it.
This morning I took a long walk with him round our ornamented farm, whilſt Louiſa was employed in writing to Lady Jane; from the turn of his converſation I could plainly enough diſcover, that he is not overjoyed by the ſituation he is thrown into, which ſeems to have [Page 23] been entirely of his father's ſeeking, and by no means the way of life, which he would have made choice of for himſelf. This I own affected me very ſenſibly, and I could not forbear giving him ſome hints, which I conceived might be uſeful to him in his future views and connections. He liſtened to me very attentively, and after a ſhort ſilence addreſt himſelf to me in the following words:—
I am much beholden to your Ladyſhip for the kind advice you have given me, which I ſhall not fail to bear in mind; but I am afraid Lord G. will ſoon repent of the choice he has made, for by what you have been pleaſed to hint to me, I perceive there are many more arts and managements neceſſary in a ſituation of dependance than I am ever likely to learn, or having learnt to carry into practice. I have that opinion of his Lordſhip's delicacy, that I dare ſay he will never require of me any other ſacrifices, than the ſpirit of a gentleman ought in reaſon to ſubmit to; but I am not ſo ſure of other people, who may regard even ſuch an inſignificant being as I am with an eye of jealouſy; and I am ſenſible I never ſhall be poſſeſt of that convenient patience, which can put up [Page 24] with an inſult, though it were no otherwiſe to be reſented than by the total ſacrifice of my intereſt.
Believe me, Mr. Arundel, I replied, however commendable theſe principles are, yet, as the world is now faſhioned, too quick a ſenſibility will involve you in a thouſand troubles, and I do ſincerely wiſh for your ſake I was poſſeſſed of thoſe powers of perſuaſion, which might prevail with you to be upon your guard, more eſpecially at your outſet into life. But I have no ſuch powers, and can only offer you my good wiſhes.
At theſe words, turning quickly towards me, his countenance animated with the moſt lively bluſh, I muſt be a monſter, exclaimed he, if I could ever loſe the memory of this goodneſs, or prove inſenſible to the honour you confer upon me; and I muſt beg your Ladyſhip to be aſſured that there is no opinion can proceed from your lips, which I ſhall not moſt implicitly adhere to, that only excepted, which has reference to yourſelf; therein you muſt permit me very widely to diſſent; and if it were not too preſumptuous a requeſt to make, I ſhould account myſelf moſt happy [Page 25] and moſt honoured, would you ſuffer me, in caſe of future difficulty, (provided the affair be not unfit for ſuch a reference) to throw myſelf upon your friendly judgment for advice: I bluſh to make ſo bold a ſuit, but indeed I am incapable of abuſing your condeſcenſion, and I flatter myſelf, if I was allowed to think of you as of one, to whom I was to bring my conduct to account, I ſhould never have the heart to do a deed, or even meditate a thought, that might diſhonour my protectreſs.
I muſt confeſs, the eager manner of his utterance and the unexpected claim he made upon my confidence, (which to own the truth was ſomewhat more ſudden than our acquaintance warranted, and rather out of form in the manner it was introduced) threw me into ſome confuſion, and I rather doubt if you will think that I deported myſelf altogether as I ought by aſſenting to a requeſt, which may poſſibly engage me further as a party in his fortune and affairs than in prudence I ſhould have gone; and indeed, conſidering how little influence I have over any perſon or in any thing, was it not in fact a kind of deceit to let him think that ſuch a [Page 26] friend could be of any uſe to him in life? If there had been the leaſt degree of forwardneſs, the ſmalleſt ſhadow of impertinence either in his look or deportment, I could have drawn up, and, however foreign it may be to my nature to aſſume the great lady, I ſhould in that caſe perhaps have taken it upon me to put him at his diſtance; but in this inſtance it would have been rank pride and ill-nature to have turned a diſcouraging countenance upon a modeſt youth, whoſe emotions were ſimply thoſe of gratitude and reſpect, and I ſhould have abhorred myſelf had I been capable of attempting it.
Thus for the firſt time in my life has your friend been drawn out of that negative inſignificance of character, which I have ſo long ſtudied to preſerve, and ſurpriſed into an undertaking, which I am as unfit for as my pupil is for a dependant. You will ſmile to think of me in the character of a female Mentor, me, who have no voice in any body's affairs, and hardly dare to adviſe even my own child: as for his connection with my Lord, I muſt look upon that as in a very precarious light, for, unleſs his violin pleads ſtrongly in his favor, [Page 27] I know no other chance he has to find the way to his good graces. He will not flatter, and he is too proud to truckle to the hangers-on, that ſwarm about the Great: the firſt ſcrape he falls into on that account will completely open his eyes as to my want of conſequence, and ſhew him that he leans upon a broken reed, for there I can afford him no help: the only uſe I could be of to him is in difficulties, which may ariſe from my own ſex, for I ſhould tell you that this young Secretary of our's is out of all compariſon the handſomeſt young man I have ever ſeen, and very finely formed withal; ſo that I conclude he will have embarraſſments more than enough to ſtruggle with from that quarter; but it ſo happens that upon the only points I could ſerve him in, delicacy muſt of courſe prevent him from employing me.
I AM truly concerned to find you diſapprove of my declining Lord G.'s offer; if any conſideration could prevail with me to accept it, your commands would; but if I have hitherto obeyed you in all things, I hope you will pardon this my firſt tranſgreſſion, as I cannot do ſo great a violence to my nature, as to take wages from the hand of a maſter, and ſink myſelf to the condition of a hired ſervant.
As to the idea of its operating as a quickener to provoke him to a more ſpeedy proviſion for me by other means, I confeſs it never entered my thoughts, nor do I think I ſhall ever acquire ſo politic an attention to my own intereſt, or that any experience will improve me in a ſpecies of wiſdom, which centers ſo excluſively and individually in myſelf.
If the burthen that may eventually fall upon you, till ſome proviſion ſhall be found for me, is amongſt the motives, that induce you to [Page 29] enjoin my compliance with the offer in queſtion, I think myſelf fortunate in being able to ſecure you againſt thoſe apprehenſions for ſome time to come by the very kind and ſeaſonable ſupply which my uncle's bounty has juſt ſent me, amounting to the ſum of two hundred pounds; and I ſlatter myſelf at the ſame time the manner in which I ſhall huſband this fund, will impreſs you with no unfavorable opinion of my oeconomy.
The leſſons of humility, which you are pleaſed to beſtow upon me, I ſhall ſtrive to profit by; I am alſo ſenſible how much my ignorance ſtands in need of admonition, and how well qualified you are to admoniſh; but I ſhall hope to find Lord G. too noble to demand thoſe abject aſſiduities, which would degrade my character and reflect no honour upon his. If I can reſpect him for his virtue, talents and integrity, my devotion will go as far as any man's ought to go; but if I find him wanting in theſe qualities, I can never pay adoration to rank alone, nor flatter power with the ſordid view of profiting by what I deſpiſe.
On all occaſions I ſhall proportion my reſpect according to the merit rather than [Page 30] importance of the perſons I may be concerned with; and by this rule, as far as I have yet been able to diſcover, Lady G.'s claim will by no means be ſo ſlight and inſignificant, as you ſeem to think it. I embrace with a devoted heart the tender of your fatherly friendſhip and affection on the condition of my deſerving it, which I ſhall ſtudy to fulfil by approving myſelf at all times and on all occaſions,
Your moſt dutiful and moſt obedient Son.
I HAVE got a ſmall neſt-egg left in the hands of my agent, whoſe direction you will find in the incloſed order; you may crack the ſhell, my good boy, and make the moſt of it; if your ſtomach is not very ſharp ſet, it [Page 31] will help out your meſs, as I make no doubt but your commanding officer has ſtinted you to ſhort allowance.
There is but little ſtirring in our way, or I would do more for you; one lucky hit they ſay will heal many hard blows; if ever I ſhould ſtumble upon good fortune, you ſhall fare the better for it; if not, you muſt look out for yourſelf, and they tell me you are now in the track.
I hope you don't intend to grow a flaſhy fellow and learn to turn up your noſe at a tar jacket; if that's to be your game, my humble ſervice to you: but I am ſure you are too honeſt a lad for that; and ſo no more at preſent from your loving Uncle.
I HAVE received your order for two hundred pounds at your agent's office, and moſt gratefully acknowledge your generoſity to me on this and all occaſions. I would ſay much more to you on the ſubject if I dare, but as I know you too well to venture upon profeſſions, I ſhall only aſſure you that though you have made me rich, you have made me frugal, as I ſhall ſcorn to diſſipate the earnings of your valour in an unbecoming manner.
I muſt own your favor reached me in a needful moment, for as I had diſobliged my father by refuſing a ſtipend from Lord G. he had puniſhed my pride by revenging himſelf upon my pocket; and I find enough to diſlike in my preſent ſituation without the aggravation of poverty.
Alas! my dear uncle, there is ſomething in my blood, that revolts againſt dependance: my anceſtors never yet ſerved any maſter but [Page 33] their king, and yet my father would have humbled me to the mean condition of receiving wages from Lord G. but in vain; I would ſooner have taken the firſt honorable grave I could find, than his lordſhip's pay, and been the firſt Arundel, who ſo diſgraced the name.
If my wiſhes could have prevailed I had continued at Cambridge, where I was purſuing my ſtudies with ſome little reputation; but if that was not to be allowed of, why was I not thrown into the army, where my uncle the General would have protected me, and has been ſo earneſt to place me? but you well know his offers were rejected in a manner ſo diſobliging, as to occaſion ſuch a breach between my father and the head of our family, that I am peremptorily interdicted from paying the common civilities of a viſit to Sir Francis, who lives within a few doors of Lord G.'s houſe in town, and who I dare believe would be too noble to let me feel any part of the reſentment he has conceived againſt my father.
As for you, my dear uncle, it is now ten years ago ſince you propoſed to enter me on your books and educate me under your [Page 34] own eye in the ſervice, which above all others I ſhould have preferred and delighted in; but you alſo met a rebuff, and the full half of my life has been ſpent in regretting a diſappointment which it is now too late to redeem, whilſt I have the cutting mortification to ſee the whole world in arms againſt my country, and I remain an idle ſpectator of the glorious conteſt.
What would I not have given to have ſtood by your ſide in your late gallant engagement! my heart burnt within me when I read of your beating off a ſhip of ſo ſuperior a force that ſhe ought to have blown you out of the water, had not your reſolution and addreſs balanced the diſproportion of her ſtrength. I have the ſatisfaction however to hear your conduct applauded to the ſkies; every body is loud in your praiſes, and Lord G. tells me you are appointed to a new ſeventy-four, and going out upon a ſeparate cruize with an attending frigate. May glory and ſucceſs go with you! Sure I am, the colors which you hoiſt, will never ſtrike at your command to the enemies of your oppreſſed country.
Trin. Coll. Cam.
I Find ſince you, my dear Frank, have left us, I am an altered character, and no longer worthy any man's acquaintance: I am grown inſufferably ſelfiſh and unſocial. Is it becauſe I had no pleaſantry, no merit, but what I caught from you? Could not you be contented with engroſſing every public honor, but muſt you ſtrip your friends of their little private modicum of praiſe, and cram their ſcraps into your wallet? I am diſcovered to be a very dull fellow, and every body flies me accordingly. Perhaps I am a little unreaſonable in expecting all the world to love you as well as I do, and have wearied out their patience with lamentations for the loſs of you.
And is the loſs only mine? Is it not your's alſo? Alas, alas! I was in hopes I ſhould have had nothing but the evil paſſion of envy to get over, a little ſelfiſhneſs or ſo to conquer, [Page 36] which I did not abſolutely deſpair of effecting in due time; but if I am to be attacked by the generous impulſe of friendſhip; if by the ſhifting of your fortune from happy to unhappy, my heart is to endure a like tranſition from ſelfiſh to ſympathetic feelings, it is more than I can encounter: I can never be reconciled to my own loſs, unleſs I could reflect that it was to be your gain.
Have you taken a fair meaſure of your lot in life? have you conſidered it in its poſitive, in its relative light? You are a great adept in theory, are you any thing of a philoſopher in practice? I much doubt it. Are you quite ſure that dependance is ſuch a bugbear? Is not every man in ſome points, ſome periods of his time, a dependant? Do we not ſerve a temporary apprenticeſhip to every art, ſcience and profeſſion in life? Cannot you ſubmit to go to ſchool above once before you are made a man of? What have I to look to, that am an cleve of the church? muſt not I expect to work my way through the probationary drudgery of a curacy, before I can expect to lie down in the ſoft lap of beneficed indolence? and what are you gentlemen politicians more than the [Page 37] reſt of mankind, that you alone ſhould be exempted from going through your degrees, and ſtart up at once doctors and profeſſors of the untaught myſteries of government? Happy inſpiration, if it were ſo! miſerable people, to be governed by upſtarts and empirics, if it be not ſo!
For my part I believe every man's temper is mended by dependance, as vice is oftentimes corrected by ſickneſs. You perhaps will diſpute the point with me, and contend that he learns to be mean inſtead of humble, to be cunning when he ought to be wiſe: I cannot be anſwerable for his miſtakes; I cannot help a ſilly fellow's running into bye-ways and crooked allies, when the open ſtreet lies ſtrait before his noſe.
You may remember I was a ſtiff anti-miniſterialiſt before you commenced ſtateſman; I have now turned my coat out of compliment to you, but it is a compliment that puts no great force upon my conſcience, for as I could never reaſon on either ſide the queſtion from total ignorance of both, I have only transferred my wiſhes from one party to the other, without knowing where the preference lies; and if [Page 38] you have no better advocates than me, your cauſe will be but lamely defended. Heaven keep our blue gowns and ſquare caps from the contagion of politics!
I am lately become exceedingly fond of our phyſic garden, and have commenced a courſe of botanical lectures: thus perhaps, whilſt you are plucking up the weeds that overrun the political region, I ſhall be employed upon the ſame taſk in the natural one, and ſo by our joint labours the world's unweeded garden in time be culled, and the baneful poiſons, which it now abounds in, made medicinal, and converted into antidotes.
Our muſical parties languiſh miſerably for want of their leader; and whilſt our harmonic body is ſtarved by your abſence, London, which has ſpirited you from us, is ſurfeited with repletion; ſo unequally are the good things of life diſtributed.
I have been up ſince day-break, and the chapel bell now ſets in, a ſummons, which you never failed to obey; how happy I once thought myſelf; that I was quartered ſo near you! I now paſs year windows with a ſigh, take a penſive turn or two in the cloiſters, and [Page 39] then ſit down to a ſolitary breakfaſt, or at beſt with ſome ſilent companion from the dead. In ſuch ſociety the brain will be ſometimes ſubject to vapours, and even viſions will ariſe to delude the fancy; ſomething of this ſort I have lately experienced, but upon ſober reflection, I find that what ſeemed at firſt the viſitations of the Muſe, turned out in reality to be nothing more than the effuſions of melancholy.
I accompanied his Lordſhip on Saturday laſt, who left me here with the ladies for the beſt reaſon in the world, becauſe he did not know what to do with me himſelf, and they did; for their good-nature found a thouſand [Page 40] innocent nothings to employ me in, and I verily believe it is the employment I am fitteſt for. I find my genius is exactly levelled to this tranquil ſtate of indolence, without any of thoſe turbulent viciſſitudes of pleaſure and pain, which agitate the current of more impetuous ſpirits.
I have now experienced, for the firſt time in my life, that doing nothing is a very different thing from having nothing to do: I perceive there is in the former not only occupation enough for a reaſonable man, but an art and addreſs in the buſineſs, which the fair ſex, ‘Whoſe trifling pleaſes and whom trifles pleaſe,’ underſtand much better than we do.
I have rummaged his Lordſhip's library for books I never opened before, and made acquaintance with ſeveral ingenious eſſayiſts and even ſome noveliſts, who have pleaſed me not a little: theſe gentry, who ſeem to have been in poſſeſſion of the ſecret of writing made eaſy, have taught me how to make reading ſo; hitherto I have been uſed to ſit down to the work, as a plowman does to his dinner, with a craving appetite and a voracious ſwallow: [Page 41] reading theſe authors is in the vulgar phraſe as eaſy as cracking nuts; they ſet before you a deſſert of various confections, which are not calculated to appeaſe your hunger, but to amuſe your palate; if you think fit to open the bauble, you diſcover ſome little motto or device within, which is ſeldom worth the trouble of getting at it, and yet curioſity draws us on from one to another: I have turned over abundance of theſe triflers, and have had the good luck always to ſelect ſomething tolerable to fill up an evening hour, when we came in from our walk.
It is now five days ſince Lord G. left us, and here we have remained without the interruption of any one viſitor till a certain perſon made his appearance this afternoon, of which I ſhall give you the particulars by-and-by. You will expect I ſhould ſay ſomething of the ladies I have been living with in ſo familiar a manner, but I am in no humour to undertake it; I cannot think it a fair way of proceeding, when I am entertained in a family, to ſit down deliberately and delineate their perſons and characters for the amuſement of a correſpondent, or for the ſilly vanity of being ingenious [Page 42] at their coſt. How ſhould I know any thing of the characters of theſe ladies in five days acquaintance? I abhor ſuch impertinent affectation, and I like it the leſs for the ſurfeit I have had of deſcriptions in my ſhort acquaintance with the noveliſts; their pourtraits of beauty, and their daubings of deformity, are commonly ſo overcharged as to give me no idea of nature, and I dare ſay, if I was ridiculous enough to try my art upon theſe ladies, after a thouſand fine no-meaning flouriſhes about the matron beauties of the mother and the virgin graces of the blooming daughter, you would be no better acquainted with one atom of their perſons or manners than you are at preſent. I ſhall only tell you that the world agrees that Lady Louiſa is very handſome, and without having any prejudice for the world's opinions, I believe it is pretty certain that in this particular the world is right: as I am much more experienced in muſic than in beauty, I am better able to pronounce upon her accompliſhments as a vocal and inſtrumental performer, which without exaggeration are extraordinary, and if my good word goes for any thing, it is no more than I ought to give her, for [Page 43] ſhe had not half the ſame excuſe for the many fine compliments ſhe paid to my ſcraping.
You muſt know, Charles, I was not half an hour in this young lady's company, before I had laid down a rule in my own thoughts, by which I mean to govern myſelf in certain particulars, which I have no deſire to be very explicit upon even to you: and yet I muſt condition with you to keep ſacred from all ears and eyes the little that I ſay now and for ever, of perſons more eſpecially, and even of things: a ſcribbling tell-tale is a deſpicable character, and yet I feel as if I could not totally reſtrain the effuſions of my heart, when I correſpond with you: if my confidence with you is ever violated, I renounce mankind.
For my own part, I do not know what love is; I never yet meaſured weapons with him, and conſequently cannot tell whether he is really that formidable champion he is ſaid to be: but as for this young lady we were ſpeaking of, though ſhe is my junior in age, I ſuſpect ſhe is older in experience of a certain ſort: I ſhould ſuppoſe her to be a perfect miſtreſs of her weapons by the way in which ſhe manages them, and if a man can [Page 44] parry the attack of her eyes, he will have little to fear from any others: I hope it will never be required of me to tell any other girl that ſhe is the moſt beautiful creature in the world, for if I do, I ſhall belye my own ſenſes moſt egregiouſly: between Lady Louiſa and me there is ſuch an impaſſable gulph, that I ſhall never be fool-hardy enough to venture on it; and thanks be to fortune! it is too wide for the range of even her ſhot to reach me acroſs it. She is at preſent a little languid or ſo, for I cannot ſay ſhe is actually ill; but even the languor of a fine lady, and eſpecially of ſuch a favorite, is a ſufficient ſummons for a conſultation of phyſicians: they have very diſintereſtedly preſcribed the air of the country and the ſide-ſaddle, and every day evinces the good ſenſe and efficacy of their regimen: I have ſometimes been obliged to attend upon her on her rides, but I have oftener avoided it, and prefer to attach myſelf to Lady G. as the ſafer companion of the two: with this moſt excellent lady I have taken many delightful walks, and am ſo charmed with her natural unaſſuming character, that I have no reſerve in confiding to [Page 45] her all thoſe ſenſibilities and emotions, which my ſituation awakens in me; even my awkwardneſſes and apprehenſions have not been diſguiſed from her; ſhe condeſcends to them with the greateſt patience, rebukes me with gentleneſs, or fortifies me by encouragement; there are yet charms enough about her to give an inexpreſſible grace to every thing ſhe ſays, but it is beauty which intereſts without enflaming; it conciliates the affections without agitating the paſſions; it is Lady Louiſa herſelf advanced twenty years forward in life, and twenty times more ſoft in manner; it is her meridian ſun declining towards the weſt, ‘His beams entire, their fierceneſs loſt.’ Having been little uſed to the familiar ſociety of women, it is almoſt incredible to relate what a degree of influence this elegant friend has already over me; ſhe is to be my counſellor and confidante upon all difficult occaſions, and I feel as if I could never ſuffer any ſpot or ſtain to fall upon my actions, for fear they ſhould not be delicate enough for her inſpection. She has been very earneſt with me to inſtruct her in a few of the eaſy [Page 46] and moſt familiar topics of popular aſtronomy, and I have been obliged to comply; in return, ſhe is teaching me to play at cheſs, but I believe ſhe is much more likely to be a rival of Sir Iſaac than I am ever to be a match for Phillidore, for I can make nothing of it, and if ſhe had not all the patience in the world ſhe would have given me up for an incorrigible blockhead before now.
You muſt know I am ſo conſtituted as to revolt from every thing that in the leaſt approaches towards pedantry, and cannot bear the idea of being the academic of the company; I am therefore a little mortified by this taſk which Lady G. has impoſed upon me, and go about it very awkwardly; nothing would ſerve but I muſt walk out with her laſt night, after Lady Louiſa had retired, to ſhew her the conſtellations; I would fain have perſuaded her ſhe would take cold by the night-air, but that fetch would not ſave me, and I am afraid I did it with an ill grace at laſt; I have now more objections againſt it than what affect her health only, and I ſhall not repeat theſe lectures any more: I do not think I am quite old enough, nor ſufficiently [Page 47] ſage, to expound the ſtars to the up caſt eyes of a fine woman, and there is ſomething ridiculous in my ſetting up to be the Fontenelle of Lady G. unleſs I had either the gallantry of a Frenchman, or the ſang-froid of a philoſopher.
This afternoon a certain Sir George Revel propoſed himſelf the pleaſure of making a viſit to theſe ladies: it is aſtoniſhing with how eaſy an aſſurance a young man of faſhion carries off an impropriety of this ſort: I do not find he is by any means an intimate of the family; on the contrary I ſuſpect his acquaintance commenced but a few days ago at a private ball, where he had the honor of dancing with Lady Louiſa; but this it ſeems was in his opinion pretence enough for diſpenſing with forms, and in the eaſy ſtile of modern breeding he coolly rode up to the door, diſmounted, and delivered his horſe to his groom, little doubting of a welcome.
For once he was miſtaken, and very likely this may have been the firſt time his vanity betrayed him into a falſe concluſion; but Lady G. had reconnoitred him at ſome diſtance, and ſeemed on a ſudden ſo extremely fluttered [Page 48] by his coming, that I could do no leſs than offer myſelf for any meſſage ſhe thought fit to ſend him. This offer ſhe accepted, and after many apologies deſired I would take the trouble to make her excuſes to Sir George Revel for declining the honor of his viſit, but that ſhe and Lady Louiſa ſaw no company at that place in the abſence of Lord G.
With this commiſſion I repaired to the hall, where my gentleman was repoſing himſelf, whilſt a ſervant was employed in wiping off the duſt from his boots. I addreſſed myſelf in as civil terms as I could uſe in delivering the meſſage I was charged with: he looked up in my face without ſtirring from his chair, or moving the hat from his head, and with a ſuitable air of inſolence demanded, who it was he was to thank for being the bearer of ſo very civil a meſſage.
I told him my name, but for any thanks due to me as the bearer of Lady G.'s meſſage, thoſe I informed him had been diſcharged by the ſender, and none were either owing or expected from Sir George Revel on this occaſion.
Then, Sir, replied he, ſince your name is [Page 49] Arundel and I am to underſtand you are a gentleman, be pleaſed to go back to Lady G. and tell her ſhe has found out a very unfit office for a gentleman, and that ſhe has done me great honor in the meſſenger, but very little in the meſſage.
Sir, your moſt obedient ſervant, anſwered he; if your anger is ſo ſoon rouſed upon a very natural obſervation, I ſhall take leave to ſuppoſe that my lady's words may not perhaps have been quite ſo peremptory as your report of them.
This retort was rather more than I could bear, and thereupon ſtepping nearer to him, I [Page 50] obſerved to him in a kind of whiſper, that ſuch converſation was no longer proper for the houſe we were in, and that I muſt inſiſt upon his ſtepping out of it with me, where I would attend upon him to his horſe, and take that opportunity of requeſting him to inform me, where I might have the honor of waiting upon him in town to return the compliment he had juſt now been pleaſed to pay me.
He reddened at this ſpeech, and without deigning to beſtow any anſwer flung out of the houſe, and called for his horſe: I followed him, and before he mounted again deſired to know where I might call upon him.—What is your reaſon, Sir, ſaid he, for demanding to know where I am to be met with? if you want any explanation of what I have ſaid, explain to me in the firſt place who and what you are, and ſatisfy me that you are qualified as a gentleman of birth and independance to call any words of mine into queſtion; till that is done, I ſhall hold the bearer of ſuch a meſſage as I have here received in juſt ſuſpicion; and excuſe my vanity if I obſerve to you, Mr. Arundel, that you muſt be very young indeed in the [Page 51] world not to know where Sir George Revel is to be met with; but as I leave no tickets of my abode with people, whom I don't know and who don't know me, you may make your enquiries of my ſervant here, or aſk the waiters at the St. James's Coffee-houſe, where I may chance to be, as I have a palace guard to-morrow.
Part of this proud ſpeech was delivered from his horſe's back, and I had only time to tell him he ſhould hear from me, when he wheeled about and ſet off upon the ſpur. I then returned into the houſe and made a ſhort report to Lady G. of Sir George Revel's departure without any comment whatever upon his behavior to me.
Lady Louiſa, who had not been preſent when I received her mother's meſſage, was now ſitting with her, and took very little notice of what had paſſed with reſpect to Sir George's viſit, ſimply obſerving that Mr. Arundel had had a very troubleſome office; ſhe ſate in a very thoughtful mood for ſome time, and now and then turned her eyes upon me with a look that I cannot pretend to interpret, but am not without ſome apprehenſion there might be a degree of diſappointment in [Page 52] it, and perhaps ſome little portion of diſpleaſure againſt me for diſmiſſing Sir George; though if it was ſo, it was politely concealed, for, to ſay the truth, it was ‘A countenance more in ſorrow than in anger.’ It was not long before ſhe retired to her chamber complaining of the head-ach, and as ſhe choſe to be alone, Lady G. and I were left together: ſhe preſſed me to relate the particulars of what paſſed between Sir George and me, and ſeemed very uneaſy left ſomething unpleaſant had occurred, reproaching herſelf for having inadvertently accepted of my offer to take her meſſage: you can readily believe I omitted nothing to quiet her alarms, and ſhe concluded by ſaying—How could I be ſo indiſcreet to ſend you to that inſolent, quarrelſome young man, who is the terror of all companies, and whoſe vaſt fortune buoys him up in all manner of outrages againſt decency and good manners? if any thing enſues to your harm I ſhall never forgive myſelf; believe me, Mr. Arundel, when I aſſure you that I ſhould never enjoy another peaceful moment, if I was to turn his ſword upon your life.
[Page 53] I was juſt going to ſeal this letter, when I recollected that it may not be amiſs to poſtpone it till to-morrow, when I ſhall moſt probably tack a codicil to it from London, where I purpoſe to return Sir George's viſit and ſlip away before theſe ladies are ſtirring.
I WRITE to you under the greateſt agony of mind. An affair has happened between young Arundel and that wretch Sir George Revel, which I improvidently gave occaſion to. I cannot ſend you particulars, for my mind is [Page 54] too much diſtreſſed to enlarge upon the ſubject. Mr. Arundel is wounded; whether dangerouſly or not is more than I know, for though my Lord writes word it is only a ſlight ſcratch, I am far from certain that he does not conceal the truth from me, as my ſervant Daviſon, who ſaw the poor young man and ſpoke to him, tells me he was all over blood and very faint: ſtill he had the generous conſideration for my eaſe to bid Daviſon aſſure me that his wound was nothing, and that he deſired I would be under no alarm on his account, for that he ſhould be with me in a day or two, if Lord G. would give him leave.
Now even this does not quiet my fears, and I muſt entreat of you to call upon my Lord and inform yourſelf of the truth, which I deſire you will not diſguiſe from me, but ſtate the caſe without ſoftening any one particular. I would have aſked my Lord's permiſſion to come to town myſelf, but that is become impoſſible, as I am now for the firſt time ſeriouſly alarmed for Louiſa, who is confined to her chamber, and ſo very low that I dare not leave her even for an hour in the day. We have carefully concealed from her this terrible [Page 55] fracas, for to confeſs to you the whole ſorrows of my heart, I am not without my fears, that this deteſtable Sir George Revel is not indifferent to her, and that the great depreſſion of ſpirits ſhe is under is more the conſequence of diſappointment, than diſtemper.
Loſe no time, I beſeech you, in giving me correct intelligence of Mr. Arundel's real ſituation; when you hear the ſtory you will not wonder at my anxiety, for how can I avoid feeling for one, whoſe ſufferings I am the cauſe of?
I called in Groſvenor-ſquare this morning at an early hour, hoping to find your Lord at leiſure to ſee me: he was ſo obliging as to let me in, and I had a few minutes converſation with him; he was very quick in diſcovering that I had been ſent upon enquiries by you, and ſaid, that, though he knew I was a ſpy, he ſhould treat me as an honorable one, and give me all the information I was in ſearch of: he then briefly ſtated the particulars of Mr. Arundel's rencontre with Sir George, which, though I ſuſpect his Lordſhip to have ſoftened in his relation of it, ſeems to have been a very brutal and ſcandalous affair at the beſt.
I am ſorry to obſerve to you that Lord G. diſapproves of your meſſage to Sir George, [Page 57] and thinks he ought to have been admitted; I hold it right to give you this hint, that you may not be taken by ſurpriſe, if he ſhould happen to launch out, as he is too apt to do, when any thing occurs to thwart his wiſhes.
He cannot in his real opinion find fault with the prudence of your proceeding, nay he muſt think it highly becoming; but I am afraid his eyes are wilfully ſhut againſt the glaring impropriety of Sir George Revel's viſit by conſiderations that do him no honor in my opinion: it is clear to me that his Lordſhip would have no objection to a propoſal from that quarter; the politics of Sir George at preſent are hoſtile to adminiſtration, and his parliamentary influence, as you muſt have heard, is very conſiderable, ſo indeed is his property; the man in ſhort has every recommendation to a father, who wiſhes to make a match of intereſt, and form and faſhion enough about him at the ſame time to catch the attention of any young lady, who chuſes her lover by the eye; ſuch I ſhould hope will never be the choice of my dear Lady Louiſa; ſurely ſhe will never be the dupe of outward appearances, nor ſubmit herſelf [Page 58] to be ſacrificed to ambition and the love of riches. Her beauty, rank and fortune leave her without any plea for precipitation in the affair of marriage, and though her youth and extreme ſuſceptibility may ſeem to lay her open to danger, yet ſhe has a kind and faithful friend for ever at her ear, whoſe maternal vigilance will guard her from ſurpriſe.
When Lord G. had given me a ſhort account of the affair with Sir George Revel and made his own obſervations upon it, he called a ſervant and ſent him up to Mr. Arundel to know if it would be convenient to him to receive a viſit from a friend of Lady G.'s, offering at the ſame time to accompany me to his apartment. I rather ſtared at the propoſal, but when the ſervant returned with an anſwer from the wounded man, that he was ready to receive the honor we deſigned him and when my Lord ſeemed to make a point of my going with him, I no longer heſitated about the matter, but ſuffered him to introduce me to Mr. Arundel, who had juſt been dreſſed by his ſurgeon and was lying on a couch.
After a few ſlight enquiries my Lord ſlipt out of the room without my obſerving him, [Page 59] whilſt I was in diſcourſe with the ſurgeon, who was deſiring me to aſſure your Ladyſhip that his patient was in no manner of danger and would ſoon be well. I then availed myſelf of the privilege of an old woman by entering into converſation with Mr. Arundel, and I muſt take the ſame privilege for telling you that I never yet in my experience ſaw the perſon, male or female, old or young, who impreſſed my heart with ſo ſtrong and ſo favorable a prepoſſeſſion, as this amiable protegé of your Ladyſhip's. I recollect in one of your letters that you ſay in a kind of parentheſis that he is a fine young man, whereas if I was to deſcribe him to you it muſt be as a model of perfection: for my part I am no dealer in deſcriptions, becauſe I think they never deſcribe any perſon or any thing, but yet I pretend to be a better judge of human beauty than all the younger and more empaſſioned beholders of it can be, becauſe I can now contemplate it with a moſt philoſophical eye in perfect tranquillity of ſoul; I can look at Arundel as an artiſt at the ſtatue of Antinous; I am glad I did not think of the dying gladiator, for that compariſon might have appeared ominous, eſpecially as his [Page 60] wound is deſcribed to me as being in the ſelfſame place; but I underſtand it to be a glance with the edge of a cutting ſword and not a ſtab with the point.
I thought it neceſſary to tell him as an excuſe for my viſit, that I came at your requeſt to inform myſelf truly and exactly of the ſtate of his wound, on which account you were under much uncertainty and alarm, but I flatter myſelf, added I, that I can now ſet her mind at reſt in that particular, and I hope you will commiſſion me to tell her at the ſame time that there are no other conſequences to be apprehended from the difference with Sir George Revel.
I confeſs this was going a little too far, and perhaps he thought ſo, for he parried my curioſity in a way, that ſeemed to indicate he was not very well pleaſed with it, telling me, that if I thought it worth my while to write upon ſo trifling a ſubject as his difference with Sir George Revel, he hoped I would not magnify it into any thing, that could give you uneaſineſs, or repreſent it otherwiſe than as a thing not worth a ſecond thought of your's. I have had the honor, added he, to enjoy [Page 61] a few days only of Lady G.'s ſociety, but in thoſe few have received ſo many marks of her condeſcenſion and kindneſs, that nothing will ever deter me from obeying her commands, and aſſerting the delicacy of her behavior in the affair you allude to, in the face of any man who dares to arraign it.
BEING now more at eaſe, than when I wrote the ſhort poſtſcript to my laſt letter, I ſhall ſatisfy your curioſity as to my fracas with Sir George Revel, which has made ſome noiſe, and cannot fail to reach your ears, as the public prints have got hold of it and are circulating [Page 62] a very lame and erroneous account of a tranſaction, which is even worſe than they deſcribe it.
I left Spring Grove in the morning before the family were ſtirring, and repaired to the Coffee-houſe, where Sir George informed me he was to be found: I recollected he ſaid he was to be upon guard, and therefore determined not to go armed to the meeting, as I knew his hands were, or at leaſt ought to be, tied up by the duty he was upon: as the occaſion of our difference was of ſo delicate a nature, I thought it beſt to go alone, and indeed if I had been diſpoſed to take a friend with me, I had none to apply to. Having put up my horſe in the Haymarket I walked directly to the Coffee-houſe, and enquiring for Sir George, ſent in my name and deſired to ſpeak with him in a private room: here I ſtaid a conſiderable time before the waiter returned and reported to me, that Sir George Revel was at breakfaſt in the public room, and bade him tell me if I had any thing to ſay to him, I might ſay it there; it did not ſuit him to come out.
As I was very unwilling to come to an explanation [Page 63] with ſo uncivil a man in a public Coffee-room, where it was to be apprehended certain names would be uſed, that I was determined ſhould not get out if I could avoid it, I wrote him a ſhort note, entreating him for obvious reaſons to let me ſee him in private, aſſuring him that I was no otherwiſe equipt than in my riding-dreſs, unprovided with any means, and void of any wiſh to provoke him to a hoſtile diſcuſſion, the impropriety of which I was perfectly appriſed of at the preſent moment, as I knew he was upon guard and underſtood the delicacy of his ſituation.
This note was carried to him and anſwer brought back that he knew nothing of the writer, and ſhould enter into no correſpondence with me; I might come in or not as I ſaw fit. The maſter of the Coffee-room now came to me, and deſired I would not make his houſe the ſcene of any further altercation. I felt the juſtice of this requiſition, and aſſuring him I would not, peaceably walked out: ſtill I kept my ſtation before the door, expecting when this warrior would bolt, nor was it long before he made his appearance, leaning on the arms of two officers in their full uniform, [Page 64] between whom he had entrenched himſelf.
I will indulge you, Sir, with no private converſation, cried he, till I am better certified of your pretenſions to converſe with me at all: theſe gentlemen are my friends, and in their hearing you muſt ſpeak, if you have any thing to ſay to me.
Then go back to your Lord, and if you are in his ſervice, let your maſter certify for you, I ſhall pay no more regard to what my Lady ſays in your behalf, than I do to the affronting meſſage, which you brought me on her's.
He had now turned the corner of Saint James's Place, when ſtepping round and preſenting myſelf in front, as he ſtill kept walking on, I brought him and his party to a ſtop on the foot pavement. Harkye, Sir, ſaid I, this [Page 65] language makes all further explanation needleſs; if you do not inſtantly name a place of meeting, where I may have ſatisfaction for this inſult, as ſoon as your guard is over, I will proteſt you for a coward to all the world.
Coward! exclaimed he, and inſtantly drawing his ſword made a ſtroke at me with great violence, which paſſing between my arm and my body opened my ſide with the blade, and beat me on one knee to the ground; his execrations were horrid, and his paſſion ſo enflamed, that if his brother officers had not caught hold of his arm, I am perſuaded he would have followed his blow, which in the poſture I then was would probably have been fatal: my wound bled profuſely, and a ſudden faintneſs came over me, when fortunately an eminent ſurgeon took me into his houſe, cloſe to which the accident happened: a crowd of people inſtantly collected, and the word being paſſed amongſt them, that an unarmed man had been cut down by an officer upon guard, it was with ſome difficulty Sir George and his companions got into the ſame houſe with me.
I believe the aſſaſſin began now to be very thoroughly alarmed, but I ſaw nothing of him, [Page 66] whilſt the ſurgeon was uſing means to ſtaunch the bleeding; as ſoon as he aſſured me it was not mortal, which from my own inſpection I was ſufficiently perſuaded of, I deſired to ſpeak with the officers, who were in company with Sir George and witneſſes of the tranſaction.
I have reaſon to believe they are both men of ſtrict honor and humanity, and ſhall always be forward to render juſtice to their behavior and expreſſions on the occaſion: they lamented that it had not been in their power to ſtop the perpetration of ſo baſe a deed; that they were both as much taken by ſurpriſe as I myſelf was; that as it was their unlucky chance to be preſent at the ſcene, it would be their unpleaſant taſk to report the proceeding faithfully as it paſſed, and they feared it muſt be ſuch a report as would for ever blaſt the reputation of Sir George Revel, whom they could no longer conſider as a brother of the corps.
I told them it was my earneſt wiſh this might be prevented, and that the redreſs I looked for from Sir George ſhould affect his perſon only, not his profeſſion. I could not pretend to ſay what the rules of their corps might require, but if any ſaving could be [Page 67] made of his character, without prejudice to mine, I was content to give him a chance for preſerving the name of a gentleman, if it were for no other reaſon than that he might ſtill be worthy to render ſatisfaction to a gentleman.
The ſurgeon now interpoſing, I was forbidden to converſe with them any longer, and having told them where I was to be found, they left me with every cordial wiſh for my ſpeedy recovery, and in truth they could not have left me in any hands more likely to cooperate with thoſe wiſhes.
And now, my deareſt Charles, as I full well know your ardent ſoul has wings to carry you to the aſſiſtance of a friend, I muſt condition with you in the moſt ſerious manner to abide where you are: if my life was in danger, you are of all men on earth he in whoſe preſence there would be moſt comfort, and in whoſe friendly arms I could with moſt ſerenity reſign my breath; but there is no danger in my caſe: as for what muſt follow with regard to my aſſaſſin, it is not in your line to help me, and you are the laſt perſon I ſhould wiſh to converſe with on ſuch a ſubject, whilſt it hangs in [Page 68] ſuſpenſe. I conjure you, therefore, as you value my repoſe, not to ſtir a ſtep towards me, but as much as poſſible to preſerve that calm ſerenity of ſoul, that diffuſes peace on all who approach you, and makes a ſphere of happineſs around you, of which your glowing and benevolent heart is the center. Beware how you fix your thoughts too anxiouſly upon one, who is entering upon a turbulent and unquiet world! The votary of religion ſhould not too cloſely attach himſelf to the dependant on fortune: our harmony was uninterrupted whilſt we lived together; from our childhood we have been inſeparable; I am taken away and you are left; hard indeed would be your condition, were your ſympathetic heart ſtill to take a ſhare in all the tumults and turmoils, that I perhaps am doomed to meet. Dear Charles, if it be poſſible think of me only in thoſe tranquil hours, that will give you pleaſure to reflect upon; and if the ſtory of my life ſhall prove a tragic one, proceed no further than to the opening ſcenes of the drama, and drop the curtain of oblivion over the cataſtrophe.
Your temper was the model that I ſtudied, yet I could never bring my paſſions to ſo mild [Page 69] a quality as your's; ſtill your example, your ſociety, your interchange of ſoul ſoftened and meliorated my imperfect nature: that charming dream is now diſſolved; the band is broken that tied down my paſſions, and I am let looſe upon the world with all my feelings and with all my faults. If the ſword of Sir George Revel, when it ſtruck at my heart, had been permitted to reach it, perhaps it might have cut out of the catalogue many a diſgraceful item, which your generous friendſhip may hereafter bluſh to read.
I confeſs to you I feel myſelf at this moment in an exigency, where I want the advice of a friend well practiſed in the rules of honor, and yet I have none ſuch at hand to reſort to. My uncle John, the hero of our name, is not within reach, and the brave old General, Sir Francis, is not amicus curiae; at leaſt I dare not conſider him as ſuch, for my father—Alas for me! in the very ſadneſs of my ſoul I utter it—my father has diſgraced himſelf with me for ever: oh Charles! ſuch a letter, ſuch leſſons of ſervility, ſuch ſyſtematic meanneſs!—but let this ſecret die with you. Where he found it, how came by it, and what ſtuff it is [Page 70] made of, I know not; but ſo it has come to paſs that in the ſeries of a family coaeval with the monarchy, ſo noted for a high patrician ſpirit as the Arundels have been, there is one link in the chain found of baſer metal than the reſt, and out of that I am tempered—woe for me, if you, my gallant uncles, have not communicated ſome of your blood! You have; I feel it in my veins.
ONE of the officers, who was preſent when I received my wound, has been here and informs me that Sir George Revel has given in his commiſſion, and it is thought he will be allowed to reſign; this he did to ſtop the enquiries that muſt elſe have been made into his behavior, and particularly as the tranſaction paſſed upon guard, conſequences might have been ſerious to him. This young officer, who [Page 71] is married to one of the moſt lovely and accompliſhed women of the age, ſeems a very honorable and amiable character; he ſpoke of my affair with all the juſt abhorrence that belongs to it; he wiſhed to know what I had written to Sir George in the note I ſent into the Coffee-room, and when I repeated the contents, which I have tranſcribed in my yeſterday's letter to you, he obſerved that ſuch a conciliating meſſage was a heinous aggravation of the act, which followed it; that he had been publickly called upon by his brother officers to ſtate all the proceedings, but that he had hitherto declined entering into particulars, till he had converſed with me and was appriſed not only of my preſent wiſhes but likewiſe of my future purpoſes.
He then ſaid that he felt himſelf bound in honor to convince me that he was no aſſeſſor of Sir George's in ſo ſcandalous an affair; and therefore though he felt a repugnance againſt urging any man to an act of reſentment, [Page 72] and had always made it his ſtudy to keep out of perſonal affairs, yet if I was not better provided and thought fit to accept his ſervices for obtaining ſatisfaction of the aggreſſor, either in a peaceable manner, if that could be done, or by the laſt extremity, if it could not, he was heart and hand at my ſervice, adding that he owned he ſhould not be ſorry to mark to the world his abhorrence of ſuch ſcandalous proceedings, which had rouſed the reſentment of the whole corps, and his more immediately as a party preſent:—in what he had now ſaid, he ſpoke the ſenſe alſo of the other officer, who was in the like misfortune with himſelf.
The modeſt unaffected air with which he delivered himſelf, and the genuine glow of ſenſibility and true courage which ſhewed itſelf in his countenance, whilſt he addreſſed himſelf to me, won my heart upon the inſtant and henceforth I honor him as my friend:—but I will never conſent to his propoſal, nor will I rack the feelings of a beloved wife by expoſing her huſband to danger; I accordingly declined the honor he did me, and I hope in a manner that expreſſed my ſenſe of his generoſity [Page 73] without wounding it, aſſuring him at the ſame time that I ſhould take the moſt public and explicit means of clearing his conduct and that of his brother officer from all poſſibility of miſconſtruction.
He ſaid he did not expect Sir George Revel would make any conceſſions or offer at atonement; that he was a man of a ferocious, haughty ſpirit, elated with the influence which an overgrown eſtate gave him, and pluming himſelf on his extraordinary ſkill and addreſs in the ſcience of the ſword: he had heard him talk very laviſhly of Lady Louiſa's charms, and throw out very broad hints as if he was ſecure of being favorably received by her: Lady G. was his averſion, but as his parliamentary weight was conſiderable, (having two boroughs under his command) he made little doubt of his propoſals being acceptable to the father of the young lady, who knew the importance of his ſupport and the turn which ſuch an alliance would give to his politics. In fine, this friendly officer adviſed me, if the affair muſt come to a hoſtile iſſue, to draw him out upon foreign ground, and ſecure myſelf from conſequences that might under certain circumſtances [Page 74] throw me into a very dangerous predicament.
I told you in my laſt that I had not ventured upon reſorting to my uncle Sir Francis Arundel, nor did I preſume upon the liberty of writing a line to him in conſequence of my preſent ſituation; even his perſon was not known to me, for I believe I had never ſeen him ſince I was ſix years old.
Judge what my ſurpriſe muſt have been when a ſervant announcing him by name, uſhered in a majeſtic martial figure in the uniform of a General: I roſe with ſome difficulty from my couch, and as he tendered me his hand, preſſed it reſpectfully to my lips:—Child, child! cried he, return to your couch; conſult your ſituation, and when you are recovered from the ſurpriſe of this unexpected meeting, I will ſpeak to you. He led me back by the hand, aſſiſted in arranging my poſture, and then with great ſtate and deliberation ſeated himſelf at ſome diſtance in a chair. After a ſhort ſilence [Page 75] I began to attempt at expreſſing my ſenſe of the honor and kindneſs he conferred upon me.—Why yes, Nephew, cried he, methinks it is ſomething more than your neglect of me deſerved; but I am willing to aſcribe it to your diffidence, nay, I can well ſuppoſe you acted under influence of your father's fooliſh counſel, from whom I have long ſince and for ever withdrawn my countenance and protection. But, Sir, you are now to know that Francis Arundel will ſupport the honor of his name, though it deſcends upon the ſon of a brother he has renounced. I have beeen told of your affair; I ſee you are wounded, and ſo far the fact is verified: report gives it forth that you was unarmed, and the act, if that be ſo, was the act of an aſſaſſin. How ſtands the truth, Sir? let me hear it from your own lips; and recollect yourſelf, do you mind me, call to mind before whom you ſpeak, and do not diſguiſe or qualify your conduct in the minuteſt particular.
[Page 76] When I had concluded, he delivered himſelf as follows:—Nephew Francis, you have been very ill uſed, and at the ſame time I ſee nothing in your conduct to diſapprove of; on the contrary you ſeem to have deported yourſelf, ſo far as your account goes, as becomes a man of honor: What have you now reſolved upon as your next ſtep?
I then opened to him what my purpoſe was, which I told him I ſubmitted to his better judgment, and ſhould gladly be directed by him in any ſteps he would recommend, who ſo well knew what honor required and what was due to the dignity of a name and family, which I hoped I was not born ever to diſgrace.
Whilſt I was uttering theſe words his countenance brightened with joy, and ſtarting up from his chair, he exclaimed with an oath, that I was a boy after his own heart; and if I was not wounded he would hug me in his arms: that it was not for his age and rank in the army to turn out againſt ſuch a whipſter as Sir George Revel, neither would it become ſo near a relation as an uncle to go into the field with his own nephew; but I ſhould not want a ſecond, a gallant fellow, one of my own age, and as it was a family affair one of my own [Page 77] name and kindred—in ſhort he ſhould introduce his ſon to me in that capacity, who was captain of a troop of light horſe, and now luckily at leiſure for ſuch an expedition. We ſhall then ſee if this cowardly aſſaſſin ſhall eſcape unpuniſhed for his inſult. In the mean time, my brave lad, take care of yourſelf, and get your ſkin whole as faſt as you can.
So ſaying he got up, as if to depart, but ſeeming to recollect himſelf—Harkye, Frank, ſays he, I had like to have forgot part of my errand—Perhaps you are unfurniſhed for this job, and I ſuppoſe you are not too proud to accept a preſent from your uncle.
No matter for that, ſaid he, a few hundreds will not overburthen you, nor impoveriſh me; beſides you have ſtept into a new ſituation here, and though I think we have ſome claim upon Lord G. for the ſupport I and my ſon have always given him in parliament, I ſhall not chuſe that your appearance in his family ſhall be that of a needy dependant: here, my [Page 78] boy, take this (throwing down three bank notes of a hundred each) as an earneſt of my good-will; do yourſelf juſtice and you ſhall never want a friend, whilſt you and I are alive.
And now, my dear Charles, I have been repeating to you a converſation, which in tenderneſs to your friendly feelings I ſhould not have done, had it not been contraſted by one, which followed it in ſo oppoſite ſtile, that you may very well expect a more peaceable termination of this affair, than the preceding intelligence ſeems to threaten.
Lord G. has juſt been with me, to ſay that at Sir George Revel's requeſt he had an interview with him early this morning, in which he had debated the circumſtances which gave the firſt occaſion to our quarrel; and though he muſt acknowledge my delicacy in not ſpeaking of them to him, and held himſelf obliged to me for my attention to Lady G.'s deſires, yet he ſhould have been exceedingly glad that no ſuch rebuff had been given on her part to Sir [Page 79] George's viſit, who, though he may not be altogether ſo agreeable to her Ladyſhip, would perhaps have been no unwelcome viſitor to others of his family; at all events it ſeemed contrary to good policy as well as good manners to put any affront upon a perſon of his great fortune, influence and connections: as for his aſſault upon me, it was an act of violence, which though committed under a ſudden impulſe of paſſion, nothing could juſtify; Sir George himſelf did not attempt to juſtify it, yet he thought it would admit of ſome allowances, for where was the man of ſpirit, who could endure to hear himſelf called coward, and yet keep his ſword in the ſcabbard? That he had already ſhewn his diſpoſition towards atonement, by putting himſelf out of his profeſſion, and it was now with his Lordſhip to ſay what elſe ſhould be done towards the party aggrieved.
Here I was about to make reply, when his Lordſhip ſtopt me by reſuming his diſcourſe in the words which follow:—When I ſtate to you, that Sir George was willing to refer himſelf to me as a mediator, I ſhould not diſguiſe from you that it was implied conditionally, in [Page 80] caſe I ſhould take up his cauſe upon the firſt grounds of the quarrel, by giving my ſanction to the pretenſions, which carried him to my houſe. You will readily underſtand where this points.
Now, though I don't pretend to decide upon my daughter's inclinations, I am free to ſay that no father, be his ambition what it may, can object to the fortune, rank or family of Sir George Revel. His eſtate I know to be a vaſt one, and he muſt have been left exceeding rich in ready money. He has two boroughs, which are abſolutely his own, and repreſents the county he lives in; ſo that his parliamentary influence, which has hitherto gone againſt us, is no ſmall object, as you muſt confeſs: in ſhort he is a match for the firſt lady in the kingdom. I am candid with you therefore in ſaying, that if your matter can be accommodated, I can have no heſitation in uſing my influence over Lady Louiſa in Sir George's favor: upon this condition he is willing to come to terms with you, and ſubmits the mediation to me; I will never ſuppoſe you are ſo little the friend of me and my family, or by nature and principle ſo devoted to deſperate and reſentful meaſures, [Page 81] as to withſtand a proper and gentlemanly atonement, when you may be aſſured I will never conſent to any thing that ſhall put a force upon your feelings, or leave a ſtain upon your honor. You ſee, Mr. Arundel, how confidentially I deal with you in this affair; you ſee where my intereſt, political as well as domeſtic, points, and it is now in your power by facilitating an accommodation, not only to ſave yourſelf from almoſt inevitable deſtruction, but to eſtabliſh ſuch a merit with me as will render me your effectual friend for life.
There is no occaſion to tell you all my anſwer to this, you ſee enough of Lord G.'s wiſhes to conclude that every thing will be done on his part to terminate this affair amicably, and you know enough of me to believe that I am not of a reſentful and bloody diſpoſition; and would it not be a ſavage act in me to blaſt the happineſs of ſo lovely a creature as Lady Louiſa by ſacrificing her lover and the man ſhe loves to my vengeance? You will alſo recollect Lady G.'s words, when ſhe declared her terrors about the conſequences that might enſue; ‘"ſhe ſhould never taſte another peaceful moment in her life."’—Can I deſtroy the [Page 82] peace of the beſt of human beings? You are ſure I cannot—ſet your mind at reſt therefore about my future ſafety and dream no more of duels.
I am, and ſhall continue to be your's.
AH my friend! do you deal fairly with me, and can you think me ſo ſhallow-ſighted as not to detect your effort at deceiving me? Is the laſt paragraph of your letter the real language of your heart? It is not. Why did you ſuppreſs your anſwer to Lord G.'s harangue about amicable ſatisfaction? Why, but becauſe that anſwer would have cut up the falſe deluſive hopes, which his diſcourſe is intended to convey? But you are miſtaken; it conveys no hopes to me; I know you too well to believe he has any intereſt to divert your mind from the moſt rigid adherence to thoſe [Page 83] ſanguinary laws, which honor, that Moloch of the world's idolatry, has impoſed upon its votaries. How often have you and I diſputed this point of duelling! and how little have I ever gained upon your mind by thoſe converſations! You have now introduced a new character on the ſcene, your uncle the General, who ſeems a maſter of the art, a profeſſor of modern honor, and I perceive the malady is in your blood, a kind of family diſeaſe, not to be eradicated by my Lord's feeble emollients. No, my dear Frank, you throw a very thin cover upon the real purpoſe of you heart, when you affect to aſk if it would not be a ſavage act to blaſt the character of Lady Louiſa: this is not your natural language; truth makes no parade, and your underſtanding would not ſtoop to ſuch trite unmeaning queſtions, if you was as willing to do, as you are competent to diſcern, what is right. But that your queſtion, inſincere as it is, may not ſtand unanſwered by me, I do ſay that it is a ſavage act to blaſt the happineſs even of a perſon, who has ſo ſmall a ſhare of your acquaintance as Lady Louiſa; how much more of one who loves you as Lady G.! and yet I am apt to believe [Page 84] there is a heart, in which the wound will ſink ſtill deeper than in her's, a heart, which at this very moment throbs with agony, whilſt it reflects upon the horrid purpoſe you are meditating.
Do you ſuppoſe I cannot now account for all the time and pains you have devoted to the ſcience of the ſword? why was you for ever at the practice with your fencing-maſter? Not for the reaſon you gave me, becauſe it was a wholeſome exerciſe, a graceful relaxation in the intervals of ſtudy. You providently made yourſelf perfect in the theory, well knowing that the time was in advance, when you muſt carry it into practice.
But I have done; what I have ſaid is enough for lamentation; nothing that I could add would ſuffice for conviction. And therefore, my beloved friend, to the protection of Providence and the government of your own invincible ſpirit I commit you: may that art you have ſtudied be your defence; may that honor you purſue be your reward; and may the wound you now ſuffer be the only one you ſhall ever receive from the hand of the ſame murderous aſſaſſin!
[Page 85] I know nothing of the world you live with, their rules and opinions cannot be controverted by me, for I have neither age, experience, rank or pretenſions to oppoſe to their authority: I take for granted the aſſault is ſuch as in the language of honor excludes apology, and that the only poſſible atonement Sir George Revel can make for attempting to kill you, is by giving you a chance of killing him: be it ſo! if ſo the law ſtands, thoſe, who acknowledge the law, muſt obey the law: at the ſame time, with humble deference to the law-makers, I muſt obſerve it is extremely favorable to the aſſaſſin, as it offers him a ſecond chance of doing that, of which he has been once diſappointed, and, when the die of fate is to be thrown, gives him two caſts to your one.
I have hitherto ſuppoſed that the laws of our country gave us redreſs againſt aſſaults; but when men of principle, lovers of juſtice, (and who has nobler principles, who loves juſtice more than yourſelf?) do not apply to thoſe laws, how can I ſuppoſe any ſuch are in exiſtence? Duelling it ſeems then is the only band of ſociety, the ſafeguard of our perſonal [Page 86] rights, our ſole preſervative againſt violence; ſtrange paradox this, inexplicable to my dull apprehenſion, who cannot for the ſoul of me diſcover how that which breaks the peace can preſerve the peace, how that can defend me from danger, which expoſes me to death. Your better knowledge of the world can no doubt expound this riddle, and reconcile theſe ſeeming contradictions,
You forbid me coming to you: I will obey you, for, though nothing would prevent me from flying to your misfortunes, I ſhould be an unwilling witneſs of your errors; nor could the world preſent to me a more afflicting ſpectacle than a friend, endowed by nature with a ſpirit of benevolence, perverted by a compliance with the faſhions of the world to a principle of revenge, and thinking no atonement compleat till the wrong is expiated with the blood of the offender.
IF the faſhions and opinions of mankind were amenable to the laws of reaſon and religion, I admit with you that no ſuch practice as that of duelling could exiſt; perhaps the ſword itſelf might be a weapon out of uſe, or at moſt be carried peaceably before the chief magiſtrate of the ſtate, or hung up in terrorem as an emblem of juſtice, and not brandiſhed as now by the hand of the warrior as an inſtrument of human ſlaughter.
But it is one thing to confute the world's opinions by argument, another thing to oppoſe them by practice. Now it muſt be owned that there is ſomething in the term Coward ſo hateful to our ears, that it is more than human nature can put up with to ſubmit to the reproach: the ſtigma is ſo terrible, that it is not enough to be conſcious of not deſerving it; the infamy annexed to it is ſo general, that it reduces a man to a ſtate of ſolitude, drives [Page 88] him out of all the comforts, all the ſocieties of life, and renders him the object of univerſal contempt. If then the world will not hear my reaſon for refuſing a challenge, if it will not credit me for thoſe conſcientious motives upon which I decline a duel, but with one voice and one mind will riſe up againſt me, and hiſs my ſcruples out of countenance, what ſhall I do? ſhall I retire to the woods and the groves, and ſhrink from the face of my friends, quitting the chearful haunts of men to feaſt upon my own meditations in retirement, and triumph in the martyrdom of honor at the altar of religion? Who will do this? or grant that there was virtue found in man ſufficient for the taſk, will his example profit or reform the world? Certainly it will not, becauſe the world will never impute it to the true principle, but univerſally aſcribe it to the mean motives of fear and ſelf-preſervation? Now if all examples are given us for edification, and none can poſſibly be drawn from mine, to what good purpoſe is my honor ſacrificed? Why am I to ſeparate myſelf from the great bulk of mankind, and ſeceding upon principle join thoſe, who have deſerted from [Page 89] cowardice, whereby my virtue will be melted into the dregs of their infamy, and the good and the bad be made one common maſs, without uſe or benefit to any living creature?
Without controverting any one of your arguments, let me aſk you if I, Francis Arundel, a new and unknown being, drawn out of obſcurity (Heaven knows how unwillingly) and juſt ſtepping forth into the world, if I am the one dauntleſs individual to ſtem the tyranny of an univerſal faſhion. I may retreat, you will tell me, to my primitive obſcurity, and hide my head in the oziers on the banks of Cam; but I ſhall retreat with ignominy; I ſhall grow loathſome to myſelf; I ſhall loſe that conſcious pride, which is the very ſoul of energy; even my books will be no longer a reſource, for their authors will riſe up in judgment againſt me; every hero will frown upon me as I peruſe his annals, and every page will ſtrike the bluſh of ſhame into my cheeks: laſt of all, as the completion of my miſery, you, my dear Charles, even you, the very author and adviſer of my undoing, you will fall from me, and the friend of my life will be aſhamed any longer to acknowledge his own melancholy convert.
[Page 90] But ſhall I only plead preſcription in defence of what I am doing, will not the ſubject bear the teſt of argument? I am aſſaulted by a gentleman at the point of his ſword, wounded, ſtruck and publicly inſulted as a deſpicable fellow, who has no right to be heard, no pretenſions to remonſtrate upon equal terms of diſcuſſion. The ſpirit of a Quaker would riſe againſt ſuch an inſult: what then am I to do? patiently bind up my wounds, and make him a preſent of that blood, which is nobler than any his veins contain, who drew it from me? Or ſhall I proſecute for aſſault and battery, and preſent an indictment upon oath that I was put in bodily fear? I tell you, Charles, I will not be perjured by the forms of law, when I can be righted by the laws of honor.
It is well for ſociety, (under correction of religion let me ſpeak it) it is happy for the order, the repoſe and good manners of the world, that they are not left to the regulations of the law alone; if I am to put up with every affront, that does not break my bones, I muſt diveſt my heart of every feeling towards truth, humanity and candour, every ſenſe of juſtice [Page 91] towards the character of an abſent friend, every tenderneſs for my own, before I commit myſelf to a company of my fellow-creatures, whoſe offences could no otherwiſe be corrected but as they were actionable: whilſt there is any diſtinction to be made between a breach of the peace and a breach of good manners, ſomething muſt be found to reach thoſe treſpaſſes, which the judge upon the bench can take no cognizance of. Who will be the protector of the fair ſex, where will be the ſhelter for their delicacy, what will ſtop the mouth of obſcenity? Neither judge nor jury. What would become of all thoſe miſ-ſhapen and imperfect beings, nature's neglected offſpring, whoſe infirmities and diſtortions would make them the butts and buffoons of the rude and boiſterous ſons of health and vigour, if there was not a reſort open to them, which levels the ſtrongeſt to the weakeſt? and thanks to that invention, which has armed the feeble family of decrepitude with an inſtrument, that can awe the inſolence of the bully, and can carry death into the breaſt of the giant from the hand of the pigmy.
Tell me how many virtues are compounded [Page 92] in your general definition of true politeneſs, and I will prove to you that every one of thoſe component virtues are indebted to the reſource of duelling for their place in ſociety. Let ſpeculation calculate the frays, the litigations, the diſputes, the brutal violences, that would overthrow ſociety, and then compute if the peace, order and happineſs of mankind would not ſuffer infinitely more interruption from them, than from all our duels, which on an average do not rob the community of more than two or three members in the year. Even morality is intereſted in the continuance of this check upon the paſſions and exceſſes of mankind: it is a curb in the mouth of the drunkard, for the man who is quarrelſome in his cups, learns to reſtrain his propenſity from apprehenſion of the conſequences: there are many, who will not ſuffer decency to be too groſsly violated, none will endure the defamer of female reputation, and though the ſervants of religion are the ſons of peace, there are ſome loyal ſpirits, who do not wear the livery of the altar, yet will not ſuffer the God they love and adore to be blaſphemed, nor the faith, into which they are enliſted, to be made the topic [Page 93] of ridicule and the butt of ribaldry. Are there penalties in our ſtatutes for all theſe various deſcriptions of offence? Can attornies ſettle all the decencies, the decorums of ſociety? Will a jury find damages for my nerves, and can I proſecute for aſſault and battery upon the ſenſibility of my heart?
Read your public prints; peruſe the bloody page, where the vital reputation of your friend is diſſected before your eyes for your morning recreation; the villain is without the law, it cannot reach him; the printer defies you; it is no libel, the author is anonymous. Why does he conceal his name? not becauſe he fears the law, but becauſe the coward dare not face your reſentment for the lye he has forged: and were there no perſonal reſentment to dread, the ſcurrilities of a newſpaper would become the talk of the table, and the daſtardly defamer, who now ſtabs you in a paragraph, would inſult you face to face, and unleſs there was a lawyer in company, you would never know where to lay your damages.
Take notice I have nothing to ſay to the gentlemen, who fight duels for fame's ſake. Is law of no benefit to ſociety, becauſe men [Page 94] will reſort to it from a litigious ſpirit? Perſonal ſatisfaction is not to be demanded, till peaceable ſatisfaction is refuſed, and then only when the injury is of a ſort, which according to the eſtabliſhed modes of honor cannot be referred to the law, or if referred, cannot be properly redreſſed. Now it ſo happens that perſonal injuries and affronts are generally ſuch, as are either too undefineable for the notice of law, or too great for its due correction; of the former ſort, the lye flatly given, is what no man's ſpirit can put up with, yet there is no legal redreſs for it whatever; of the latter ſort, a blow is indeed a breach of the peace, but the inſult does not conſiſt in the violence, with which one gentleman ſtrikes another, and yet the law will take that only into contemplation, which in the ſenſe of honor is no aggravation of the injury; on the contrary the very reverſe obtains, for (as in the caſe of my wound) that, which injures the perſon moſt may very poſſibly affect the honor leaſt.
One more remark your patience will indulge me in with reſpect to my proficiency in the art of fencing: when I profeſſed to ſtudy it as an athletic and ſalutary exerciſe, I did not [Page 95] foreſee any other uſes I was ever likely to apply it to; at all events I had no purpoſes in contemplation but defenſive ones; and in that light I muſt conſider it as a happy circumſtance that I am poſſeſſed of an art, which in all probability will enable me to guard my own vitals from an adverſary's ſword, and guide mine, where the ſtroke ſhall not be mortal.
I Am ſick, my dear Jane, ſick at heart, and theſe ſilly doctors give me medicines for the body, when the malady is in my ſoul. I will take no more potions; I can counterfeit no longer; their trifling teizes me; I will diſmiſs them and reſort to you. But tell me firſt, (and reflect before you tell me) is your friendſhip for me of that pitch, as not to ſuffer a decline when I have confided to you my [Page 96] weakneſs? Will you perſiſt to love me, even though I ceaſe to merit your love? And when I have degraded myſelf in your judgment, are you incapable of deſpiſing me? Above all things, is your nature ſtrong enough to bear the weight that I ſhall caſt upon it, when all my preſent ſorrows, all that future time may add to my accumulated load, ſhall be depoſited with you and you alone? Remember alſo, that as my caſe admits of no cure, I will admit of no preſcriptions; when I ſhall impart it, it will not be for the aſſiſtance you can give by your advice, but merely for the comfort I ſhall receive in my complaining: ſo far from offering to oppoſe the poiſon, I ſhall require of you to feed it, to provoke it, to enflame it: the time for antidotes is paſt, and every vein is ſaturated with the infection.
You will remove Lady Louiſa to town and come with her yourſelf. The confuſion you have thrown me and my family into by the affront you choſe to put upon Sir George Revel at Spring Grove makes your longer reſidence in that place unadviſeable. Had you ſent your meſſage by a ſervant, I could have turned the blame upon him and in ſome degree ſaved you; but when you thought fit to employ Mr. Arundel on your errands, and gratified your pride by turning my ſecretary into your footman, you took an effectual ſtep for blaſting my meaſures, and have made yourſelf reſponſible not only for the blood which has already been ſhed, but for all the fatal conſequences that may enſue.
[Page 98] This is a huſband's letter to a wife, who is and ever hath been—let your impartial pen fill up the ſentence and deſcribe what, how humble, how obedient, muſt I add how injured? And was it to gratify my pride I employed Mr. Arundel? is that the paſſion I am actuated with towards him? Alas! alas! I almoſt wiſh it were. I have blaſted his meaſures; I am reſponſible for the blood which is, and all that ſhall be ſhed; the former reflection I can ſurvive, the latter rends my heart in pieces.
Well, my beloved friend! I have done; you ſhall not be wearied with my complaints; I will ſubmit and be ſilent: I am devoted to miſery; the victim of paternal ambition, I am lifted up in life to a painful pre-eminence; my heart was never wedded to Lord G. you know it was not, nor his to me, for he choſe me by the eye; it was a match of paſſion on his part, and of ſplendid unhappineſs on mine.
No more of this: I am in London, I have removed Lady Louiſa and have ſurrendered up my charge: ſo far I have bettered my ſituation, foraſmuch as I was diſtreſſed in the extreme about her: I know not what it is that [Page 99] ails her; there is no deſcribing to you the ſtrange appearances her diſorder puts on, and the variety of changes it undergoes; ſometimes her dejection is of the moſt alarming nature; ſhe is ſilent, ſullen, loaths her food and is totally inſenſible to every thing that is done for her; at other times ſhe is feveriſh, wandering, her pulſe high and rapid, and all her motions quick and violent: I need not conceal from you how irritable her feelings are; and I begin to tremble leſt her ſenſes ſhould give way. I dare ſay you have already anticipated my ſuſpicion of the real cauſe of her diſorder; love in Lady. Louiſa's caſe will be all tumult, tempeſt, madneſs itſelf; and I am by circumſtances perſuaded ſhe is in love with that aſſaſſin Sir George; unhappy girl! to be caught by the glittering exterior of a ſpecious villain, as incapable of true love, as he is deſtitute of true courage. I noted his behavior at the ball, where he firſt met her, danced with her and behaved as I think would revolt a woman of delicacy: inſenſible, licentious wretch, he knows not what true love ſhould be.
But I tell you again with this wretch ſhe is in love; with the direſt enemy of my peace, with the object of my eternal hatred, terror and averſion, is the child of my affection fatally in love: miſerable mother that I am! what have I ſuffered, what am I not yet to ſuffer for her ſake! I have had an interview with my Lord, in which he has not only thrown all patience out of ſight, but diſtanced every thing that ever went before for violence and rage: when I tell you that he did not ſtrike me, I tell you the only inſult he abſtained from. Tears, apologies, entreaties had no effect upon him; when his overbearing cruelty had lowered me to a ſtate of humiliation, which no human creature ſhould be reduced to by another, recollection ſeized me; my nature revolted againſt ſuch meanneſs, and I recovered ſo much underſtanding of my own dignity as to break forth into the following expoſtulation:—My Lord, you bear ſo hard upon me, and [Page 101] preſs a wounded ſpirit with ſuch unremitting cruelty, that I ſhould be unworthy of the name and character you have honored me with, I ſhould be your ſlave and not your wife, if I was any longer to ſubmit myſelf to your reproaches: as I perceive it is impoſſible to molliſy your heart, there is nothing left for me but to attempt to harden mine to an inſenſibility of your unkindneſs.Love ſhould be pure,Harmleſs as pilgrims kiffes on the ſhrinesOf dying ſaints, when angles hover o'er them,Harmonious, gentle, ſoft; ſuch Love ſhould be,The Zephyr, not the whirlwind of the ſoul.
With theſe words I left him, and indeed he did not offer at a reply; I believe he was a good deal ſtartled to ſee the trampled worm retort upon its oppreſſor. He is now gone to pay his court to his ſovereign, to ſmile and bow, and ſoften his ferocious features into the timid air of flattery and ſubmiſſion, whilſt I remain at home a ſilent ſufferer under his domeſtic tyranny.
As ſoon as he was gone I haſtened to offer my apologies where they were really due; but how different was my reception there! He, who might juſtly have complained of his ſufferings for my ſake, would not permit me even to condole with him on the misfortunes which I had brought upon him. Ah, my dear, but imprudent friend, why would you even [Page 102] touch upon ſo dangerous a ſubject as the deſcription of his perſon? Loſs of blood and the diſcipline conſequential of his wound have indeed diminiſhed the luſtre, but not impaired the ſenſibility of his countenance; the languor, that has poſſeſt itſelf of his features, makes them only more intereſting than they were. I was to blame for not taking more time to compoſe myſelf before I ſaw him, for he immediately diſcovered that I had been in tears, nay, I am afraid the very tears betrayed themſelves, for you need not be told how very ſoon the heart is melted into pity, when it has been previouſly ſubdued by ſorrow; and surely it was a touching ſpectacle to ſee him ſtretched upon a couch, his body ſwathed with wrappers, his eyes red with pain, and his active limbs deprived of their motion. He noticed the diſorder I was in, and in truth it could not be concealed. After fixing his eyes upon me ſome time with the moſt compaſſionate and tender reſpect, he ſhook his head, and in a faint tone demanded, if this could be the way to cure him of his wound, by tranſplanting it into my own boſom?
'Twas an unguarded queſtion; he caſt down his eyes in ſilence, and no ſooner did I ſee the blood mounting in his cheeks, than I felt mine kindle at the recollection of what I ſaid. In this moment I had no reſource preſent to my thoughts, but to confeſs I had been in tears before I entered his room: my Lord had been chiding me ſeverely; my unhappineſs on finding myſelf the improvident author of his miſfortunes was great enough without any reproaches to aggravate it beyond what I could bear. Indeed, indeed, ſaid I, he is too cruel to me; he oppreſſes my weak ſpirits without mercy, and I can no longer ſupport it.
Reproach me not too ſeriouſly for this indiſcreet confeſſion of what I could no longer ſuppreſs, and which nothing but the dilemma I was in could have drawn from my lips: it is too late to recall it, and there is a balm in pity ſo healing to a wounded mind, that I ſcarce can bring myſelf to repent of having thus unburthened my heart, aſſured as I am of the honor and diſcretion of this excellent young man. Beſides you will recollect I told you [Page 104] we had exchanged a promiſe of mutual confidence when we converſed together in the country: he had imparted to me all his feelings upon the firſt reception he met with from my Lord; he owned to me that it had given him no flattering impreſſions of the comforts of his ſituation, and it was plain enough to ſee he had already taken a pretty fair meaſure of his Lordſhip's character.
It is not neceſſary to relate to you how tenderly he ſympathized in my ſufferings; I confeſs it drew me on to a more explicit diſcuſſion of all the various particulars of my unhappy ſtory, as well thoſe, which preceded my connection with Lord G. as all that have ſince followed. What could I do? was I to blame for giving vent to my ſorrows, and how can the human heart ſupport itſelf without the conſolation of ſome friendly ſpirit to ſympathize with it in it's ſufferings? If indeed I were not of an age ſo diſtant from his, and ſo far out of all danger or even poſſibility of folly, it might be raſh and inexcuſable to encourage ſuch a connection; but I, who am nearly old enough to be his mother, I, who have neither charms to excite deſires, nor propenſity [Page 105] to feel them, what have I to apprehend either for him or myſelf? and why ſhould I affect to lay myſelf under a reſtraint in his company, which would only ſerve to expoſe my own ridiculous vanity, and give him juſt occaſion to deſpiſe me for an old coquette? I am determined, therefore, to treat him with that open confidence, which my age and character may ſafely commit themſelves to with one of his modeſty and merit, and indulge myſelf without ſcruple in that pure and maternal affection, which my heart has truly conceived for him. Theſe, and only theſe, are the ſenſations which my attachment to this amiable youth inſpires me with; and he in return ſeems to meet me with the moſt ſpiritualized and even filial devotion; his attentions to me are of the moſt delicate and reſpectful ſort; his eyes expreſs the mildeſt benevolence, and every ſentiment is dictated by a heart replete with honor, purity and generoſity; his emotions are ſuch as can only proceed from a ſoul warmed by gratitude and melted by pity; ſurely he is ſent to me by the indulgence of Heaven as a kind of guardian ſpirit to ſupport and comfort me in this extremity, to fill your [Page 106] place, my beloved friend, and to ſupply thoſe reſources, of which I am deprived whilſt you are at a diſtance from me.
When I repeated to him all the cruel things my Lord had ſaid to me, though I could eaſily diſcover the effect they had upon him by the changes which his countenance underwent, ſtill he did not ſuffer a ſingle word of aggravation to eſcape him, but ſuggeſted every thing he could deviſe that was ſoothing and conciliatory; obſerving to me that there muſt be a variety of incidents, of which I was not apprized, but to which my Lord by his ſituation was expoſed, that might ruffle, and diſturb his temper; and that allowances ſhould be made for all men, involved as he was in difficult and intricate affairs—Perhaps, added he, Lord G. had adopted other thoughts and opinions with reſpect to Sir George Revel's attachment to Lady Louiſa than you had, and as his pretenſions of a certain ſort are as high, as any man's, it is not unlikely but my Lord may be diſpoſed to his alliance, which indeed in point of policy there can be no objection to, neither is there perhaps any diſinclination to be apprehended on the part of the young lady herſelf.
[Page 107] There anſwered I, you touch upon a point, that gives me very ſerious alarm, for I can foreſee nothing but inevitable miſery to my daughter with ſuch a man, and yet I fear ſhe is attached to him too ſeriouſly to be diverted from it by any thing I might venture to oppoſe in the way of caution—but alas! what influence have I? or if I had, how dare I to exert it in defiance of my Lord's authority to the contrary?—And yet can I ſubmit to ſee my daughter married to the wretch, who villanouſly attempted to aſſaſſinate my friend? There is but one way in the nature of things, my dear Mr. Arundel, by which I can in any degree be reconciled to ſuch a deplorable connection, and that depends altogether upon you. If you can forgive him, if your generous ſpirit can admit of his atonement, and paſs this action over as the mere action of a mad man without premeditation or malice, I could acquieſce with ſome patience, eſpecially when I reflected that it was the means of reſcuing you from further danger, and prevented conſequences, that may otherwiſe plunge me into miſery inſupportable, the very thought of which fills my mind with horror.
[Page 108] I cannot doubt but I accompanied theſe words with more emotion of voice and utterance than I am now aware of, for I perceived they had a very ſenſible effect upon him: I can recollect that I had his hand in mine, whilſt I was delivering them, though I cannot call to mind at what preciſe moment, nor exactly in what manner I had taken it; I ſuppoſe it was by one of thoſe involuntary actions, which eſcape us in the ferment of the ſoul, when it is agitated beyond the powers of recollection; but I can well remember that he regarded me with great ſenſibility and reſpect, ſo that I was under leſs alarm on that account, when I recollected the attitude I was in, and therefore thought I would not wound his feelings, (which in his weak condition are alive to the ſmalleſt tokens of unkindneſs) by withdrawing my hand diſdainfully and haſtily; on the contrary, obſerving that he was fallen into deep and ſilent meditation upon what I had been ſaying to him, I recalled him to attention by a ſudden yet gentle compreſſure of my ſingers, as if to awaken him, and then demanded—if he could have the heart to leave me expoſed to all the reproaches of an enraged huſband, [Page 109] by purſuing his revenge, in which perhaps he might ruſh upon death, and by loading my conſcience with his blood, drive me to madneſs?
His reply was ſuch as fills me with alarm: I confeſs to you, ſaid he, that Lord G. has already moved me to an accommodation with Sir George Revel, and offered his mediation for that purpoſe. Towards him I found it prudent to obſerve ſome fineſſe, but from you, Madam, I can never hold back any portion of the truth, for you command my heart in every honorable ſenſe of the word. I will not ſay that the injury I have received, though as deep as can well be, is ſuch as abſolutely to preclude accommodation, for I have no thirſt for his blood, though it ſeems he has had for mine; but I muſt fairly confeſs I have little expectation that Sir George Revel has magnanimity enough to make that ample ſubmiſſion, which may ſatisfy my honor, nor am I quite aſſured that my Lord has all thoſe feelings for my ſituation, which ſhould urge him to exact a proper and ſufficient reparation: beſides this, I have put myſelf into the hands of my uncle Sir Francis Arundel, whoſe reſentment [Page 110] on the occaſion runs high, and whoſe family ſpirit will not be atoned by common ſatisfaction.
Believe me, Madam, I am penetrated to the heart with the words you have now uttered; to defeat the views, which your Lord's ambition may have formed, cannot be indifferent to me, and to deprive the lovely Lady Louiſa of the object of her wiſhes, (if that object were deſerving of her) would be painful in the extreme; but what is ſhocking to my thoughts above meaſure, worſe than death itſelf, and more terrible than all things but diſhonor and the ſtamp of ignominy upon my name and character, is to feel myſelf the author of miſery and unmerited reproach to the beſt and moſt amiable of her ſex, to a ſuffering wife in whoſe heart unkindneſs has already planted its thorns; Oh Lady G. what would I not endure rather than give occaſion of unhappineſs and pain to you! Believe me, Madam, I ſhall carry the impreſſion of the ſentiments, which I feel at this moment, to the lateſt hour of my life, and ſo zealous am I to approve the gratitude, the veneration I entertain for you, that there can be no commands of your's, which it is poſſible [Page 111] for me to diſobey, but ſuch as would expoſe me to a contempt that would render me unworthy of a friendſhip, which I value above life itſelf.
Pity me, my generous, my indulgent friend, pity me, I conjure you, for my conduct at this touching criſis, and condemn me not, if I wanted fortitude to repreſs the effuſions of a burſting heart; I had no longer any command over my tears; they forced their way and fell in ſhowers; exhauſted nature ſunk under the diſcharge, and if he had not caught and ſupported me in his arms, I ſhould have dropt upon the floor. I ſhudder to think what pain this effort muſt have given to his wound, for when I recovered ſight enough to caſt my eyes upon him, he was very pale and as I thought in danger of fainting; my agonies were now all directed to his preſent danger; I trembled for the miſchief I had done; I even expected to ſee the blood ſtart from his wound and pictured to myſelf all the horrors of his immediate death before my eyes: it was too much for human nature to ſupport—I know not what I ſaid; I know not what I did: Nature muſt anſwer for it; her impulſe governed [Page 112] me, I was but a machine in her hands; he ſaw my ſituation, and is too noble not to allow for it, too pure, too virtuous, too reſpectful to preſume upon it; I will truſt his honor for the faireſt interpretation, and I reſt it on your candor to confirm it—No more—
WHAT a variety of paſſions hath your letter excited in a boſom, which, if time had done its duty, would before this have been deadened and benumbed by years! but it hath been the ſport, the victim of your pen. Never more will I keep any terms with your unfeeling Lord: when I had ſeated you in the full poſſeſſion of my heart, I wiſhed to have reſerved a corner of it for him; but he is for ever thruſt out and excluded; let ambition take him in, he is not fit for the ſociety of benevolence; let pride adopt him, let him [Page 113] take refuge in his politics; to the angry ſpirit of party, to the tides and tempeſts of a contentious world I turn him over with diſdain: whilſt he meanly truckles in the preſence of Princes, he is a monſter of cruelty in the ſacred privacy of domeſtic virtue. Oh! that you ſhould be deſtined to call him Huſband, and I not permitted to regard him as a Friend!
What a contraſt have you diſplayed in the picture of that wounded youth! What a revolution do you make in the ſenſations of my heart, when you ſhift the ſcene to the chamber of my beloved Arundel! Yes, my gentle friend, I call him my beloved, for I will ſtruggle with you, even to animoſity, for ſome ſhare in his regards: what tell you me of being old enough to be his mother? it is no ſuch thing; but I am more than old enough to be your's, and therefore if age is to be the teſt of our pretenſions, the prize to ſtruggle for, the plea for friendſhip, how much ſtronger is my claim than your's? Fear me not however; I ſhall not be formidable to you: A man may not marry his grandmother: I ſhall be contented with a little plain good-will; you are miſtreſs of his affections.—Do not ſtart, my dear; I [Page 114] have not yet ſaid he is maſter of your's.—If Arundel will only hear me talk, it is all I require of him: vanity never totally wears itſelf out in old age; it only ſhifts its ground; mine is as lively as ever, but it has been long ſince driven out of the ſtrong poſt of beauty, and now maintains a kind of dying combat on the field of underſtanding: we chatter nonſenſe all our youth through, and liſp out feeble efforts at wit in our old age: now I have a mighty prepoſſeſſion that Arundel will allow me all the charms that I have any chance of being flattered for; I intend to make him own that I am a very charming old woman, the beſt tete-à-tete in England, and the way, that I ſhall take to make him ſo fond of my converſation, will be by dedicating the whole of it to a delineation of your character; yes, my moſt beloved lady, I ſhall be your faithful hiſtorian; I have known you from your cradle, you are all but my own child; the modeſt ſenſibility of your nature, which ſhrinks back from vulgar obſervation, the inborn virtues of your ſoul, which a huſband's overbearing tyranny awes into ſilence and frights from their propriety, are all known and familiar to me— ‘ [Page 115] Set in a note-book, learn'd and cann'd by rote.’ And now what think you of your friend and me? Shall not Arundel and I be good company together? Which of all the blue-ſtockings will rival me in wit? The hags will have no ſhare in him; we ſhall divide him between us; you will poſſeſs his heart, and I ſhall engroſs his ear.
Do you think I do not know to whom I am talking, and of what I am talking? Yes, I am talking of the pureſt paſſion, which the human heart can entertain, to a woman of the pureſt principles; I am ſpeaking of love to Lady G.—‘"But love is prohibited to a wife."’—Did nature make that law? will nature obey that law? Happineſs may be prohibited; the light of Heaven may be forbidden; but it muſt be the edict of a tyrant, not the voice of juſtice, which violates the common rights of human kind—Who gave the heart thoſe generous feelings, which anſwer to the names of benevolence, ſympathy, compaſſion, generoſity, gratitude and the whole family of human charities? Who, but the ſame gracious Being, who, compounding all theſe ſeveral qualities [Page 116] into one eſſence, called it Love, and then invited all creation to participate of the bleſſing? With this celeſtial eſſence thy clay, my deareſt lady, is moſt liberally tempered: to your huſband you tendered the firſt oblations; he ſpurned them from him, inſenſible man! but did he therefore extinguiſh them? It was not in his power; he cruſhed the bloſſoms but he could not kill the root.
I truſt nobody will tell me that love, though rejected, ſhall ſtill be love, becauſe it is ſanctified by the rites of marriage: there muſt be ſome mighty conjuration in thoſe rites to overrule the principles of nature before this can be effected. But though this will not bear a diſpute, and it muſt be on all hands allowed, that love cannot be called nor recalled by any form of words; yet how many will tell us, that a wife, though ſhe cannot love her huſband, ought not to love any other man? I ſhall much ſooner be brought to confeſs the danger of ſuch love, than the crime of it: But to whom does the danger apply? To the weak, the vain, the unprincipled; to them it is danger, not becauſe the paſſion, which draws them into danger, is love [Page 117] in its true and virtuous character, but becauſe it is the counterfeit of love, compoſed of falſe and vicious propenſities: Why then preach to you, whoſe nature of itſelf revolts from all impurity? Is virtue only amiable to us in our own ſex? Shall not courage, generoſity and other manly qualities have their claim upon our hearts? Becauſe I am wedded to cruelty, ſhall I love cruelty? ſhall I not prefer and admire the character, where gentleneſs, benevolence, pity are to be found? and if theſe virtuous attributes chance to be inmates of a heart, which the divine artificer has incloſed in a fair and comely mould, ſhall I ſtart aſide and call it danger, becauſe it approaches me in the ſhape and likeneſs of a man? No, I will embrace and cheriſh it without fear or heſitation, convinced that Virtue is of an eſſence ſo ſpiritualized, as not to admit of the diſtinctions of either ſex or age, and is, wherever it reſides, ‘In its own ſhape how lovely!’ Certain it is, that in a fairer tenement than the perſon of Arundel virtue never was or will be lodged; it is a rich jewel in a ſplendid [Page 118] ſetting, and for my part, I am not one that affect to be enamoured of thoſe rough diamonds, which are only to be known by their hardneſs, not by their luſtre—by their property of cutting every thing they are tried upon, and admitting no impreſſion to be made upon themſelves.
You certainly ſhould have allowed yourſelf more time for recollection between your interviews; when you paſſed without any interval from a ſcene, which muſt have ſhewn your huſband in a light ſo unfavorable, to ſay no worſe of it, to one which displayed a contraſt ſo advantageous to Arundel, you certainly did not conſult your uſual diſcretion; for you came with all the impulſes of a bleeding heart freſh and in full force; reſentment had brokendown your defences, ſorrow had undermined them; even pity in thoſe moments, ſo ſoft in itſelf, becomes by circumſtance a formidable aſſailant; whilſt the angry glances of an inſulting tyrant have not yet abated of their [Page 119] impreſſion, and the nerves which he had racked are ſtill quiv [...]ring with the torture, how ſweet is it to behold the eyes of love gliſtening with compaſſion, to preſs the hand of affection reached forth for our relief! 'Tis a criſis in which Virtue throws away her armour, and may ſhe then encounter Love in no other form but that of innocence! Can I wonder that you melted into tears, that you ſunk upon his neck with tenderneſs and gratitude, that you know not what you ſaid and what you did? I cannot wonder, if the ſpirit, when it is gone out from the body, no longer knows what paſſes in the priſon it has eſcaped from: a thief may ſteal into the habitation it has deſerted and rifle it at pleaſure; but Heaven be thanked, Arundel is no thief, your virtue is reinſtated in its citadel, the bars and bolts are again made faſt, and Prudence, its centinel, is returned to her poſt.
Another word or two, my lovely pupil, by the way of caution—Do not tell me of your maternal affection; there's hypocriſy on the face of it; you have no maternal affection for Arundel; you can have none. Have not I the reckoning of your age? did not your laſt [Page 120] birth-day number thirty and five years? Conſult your looking-glaſs; think as humbly as you pleaſe whilſt you ſurvey that face and form, which it will reflect upon you, and then ſay to me, if you dare, that grace and beauty are not preſent to your view in their tendereſt, their moſt touching period: the glare of complexion, the efferveſcence of youth are gone by; beauty hath withdrawn her more brilliant tints from the portrait; but ſenſibility has added ten thouſand intereſting touches, which ſpeak more to the heart than the freſher hu [...]s once did to the eye; they may indeed awaken leſs admiration, but they inſpire more love: a ſhade of ſorrow thrown upon the fineſt features in nature, a penſive caſt, which rather menaces than marks decay, only ſhew that time has begun to put his pencil to the canvaſs, not maliciouſly but feelingly, not with an intent to deface it, but to ſoften down its hardneſſes, and make it's harmony more ſweet and mellow.
I will tell you another thing, which perhaps you are not aware of, and this it is—a very young man, whoſe taſte is not vitiated by ſenſuality, and whoſe mind is of the ſentimental [Page 121] and pathetic caſt, will be more captivated by a woman of your ladyſhip's age and ſtile of beauty, than by all the florid charms of a girl, though ſhe were as attractive as your own daughter. Apply this to Arrundel, and you will perceive he is the very man to feel thoſe impreſſions, and yourſelf the very woman to inſpire them. Talk no more therefore either of your maternal or his filial affections; for you cannot deceive me; and you ought not to deceive yourſelf; uſe a plainer language, call it love; ſpeak without diſguiſe, when you ſpeak to me; confide to me the moſt ſecret movements of your heart; tell me every thing unequivocally as it paſſes, not to gratify my curioſity, but to relieve your own thoughts, to ſatisfy your doubts, to ſtrengthen your reſolution, to guard and ſupport your virtue.
THANKS to you, my dear Jane, my beſt thanks! You have baniſhed all my ſcruples: your letter is your heart, and your heart is truth itſelf: you are the very comforter I wiſh for; in your friendſhip I ſhall find the only cordial that can relieve me.
You have heard the ſad fracas that has happened, as I may ſay, in our family; for the quarrel was firſt ſtarted in our houſe at Spring-grove. All the world ſays, that Sir George Revel was ſhockingly in fault; but all the world believes I don't think ſo. You was with me at the Ducheſs's ball, when I danced with him, and can witneſs how conſpicuous his attentions were to me: Do I call them his attentions? Sir George Revel's ſelf-preſumption is much too great to deſcend to any thing that in the moſt diſtant degree can carry an appearance of humility. His own dear perſon is the idol of his worſhip, and [Page 123] he has made it as rich in gold and precious ſtones as the Lady of Loretto. He is alſo very fine, in the faſhionable ſenſe of the word, and very inſolent in the plain ſenſe of it. He ſaid very fine things to me, as he might think them; but as I know they were only ſaid to diſplay his own wit and addreſs, I cared very little about them. He perſuaded himſelf he had made a very ſerious impreſſion, and I was ſenſible he had made a very ridiculous one. My father was well pleaſed; for there is every worldly recommendation in the connection. My mother was much diſpleaſed; for ſhe deſpiſes money, and is inſenſible to ambition. The reſt of the good company, who were unintereſted lookers-on, and did not care which way the game went, married us without loſs of time, as the readieſt way of diſpoſing of us.
You yourſelf, my dear Jane, have been in the general error till this moment, when I declare to you from my heart, that I ſcorn and deteſt Sir George Revel: I look upon him with horror; I cannot hear his name without ſhuddering; he is the terror of my very dreams; I would ſooner leap alive into the [Page 124] flames, than marry that moſt hateful of wretches.
Notwithſtanding this, prepare yourſelf to hear that I am about to do this very thing, ſo much more terrible than the worſt of torments. Oppoſe not that report even with a doubt; give it not ſo much as a ſilent ſhake of your head when you meet it. Every body knows our intimacy, and if you heſitate, my hypocriſy will tranſpire; the conſequence of that will be, that the duel between Sir George and Mr. Arundel muſt take place.
Ah! my dear friend, that fatal week at Spring-grove: how little did I ſuſpect, when my father told us he ſhould bring down an awkward lad from the univerſity, to be humanized in our ſociety, that my eyes were to encounter a form, where every grace of mind and perſon, every manly charm, every captivating talent, unite to conquer. Mr. Arundel is the ſon of a younger brother of Sir Francis Arundel, whom all the world knows; his father is in the church, and as his uncle has an heir, this young man has very little elſe to look to but his expectations of being provided [Page 125] for by my father. He has the character of being an incomparable ſcholar, and my mother, who has had much more of his company than I have, is quite charmed with him. I cannot ſay that he takes the way of making his court to my father; for he is very high-minded, and won't flatter. The firſt night of his coming we had muſic; with ſome perſuaſion he accompanied me in a concerto: to my aſtoniſhment I heard a perfect maſter on the violin; and it was a compoſition he could never have ſeen before. His performance charmed me ſo, that though I was forbidden to ſing, I was determined he ſhould accompany me in one of my beſt ſongs: he did it with ſuch delicacy of taſte, and ſupported me with ſo fine a ſymphony, that his tones perfectly inſpired me, and I was never ſo much in humor with my own voice before. O Nature, had you not done enough, but Art muſt add this accompliſhment to make him irreſiſtible?
When my father went back to town, he left Mr. Arundel with us. It was from thence your hapleſs friend muſt date her ſorrows. He was our ſole companion; all around us was [Page 126] retirement, ſilence, tranquillity, and a ſeaſon which conſpired with love to aſſail my too ſuſceptible heart. What qualities, what ſentiments, what talents, did I then diſcover, as his character unfolded itſelf to my obſervation! He converſed, he read—Oh Jane, there is the very ſoul of harmony in his voice. He walked with us, he amuſed us with a thouſand various reſources, he inſtructed us by a thouſand various ways, but with ſuch modeſty of nature, with ſo pure a mind, with an underſtanding ſo enlightened, yet ſo void of pedantry, with manners ſo refined, and with a countenance—Oh heavens! I ſhall never look upon his like again.
As for me, ſeeing, as I do, the impaſſable gulph that is between us, attracted by nature, repelled by fate, I ſtood gazing like a ſelf-devoted victim on the very brink of ruin, meaſuring with my eye the inſurmountable barrier that parted us for ever. Sometimes I was deſperately impelled to the attempt; to periſh in the gulph, methought, would be a ſpeedier conſummation of my miſery, than languiſhing on the bank till ſuſpenſe and diſappointment ended me. Sometimes I invoked a nobler reſolution [Page 127] to my aid; I took counſel of my pride; I brought into review the nobility of my birth, my rank, my fortune, all the ſplendors of life, that awaited, and even ſolicited my acceptance. Shall I lower my ambition to take thought of a dependant? ſhall I deſcend to ſuch obſcurity? Grant for a moment I were abject enough to ſtoop from ſuch a height to ſuch a depth, how ſhould I ſupport the terrors of a father's wrath? how ſhall I face him, whoſe mildeſt look never yet relaxed from its authority, whoſe very ſmile awes me into ſubmiſſion? I dare not do it; be the conſequences what they may, I can die, but I dare not diſobey.
Fortified with theſe reflections, and made reſolute even by my fears, I turned aſide, and ſought relief in ſolitary meditation; I confined myſelf to my chamber; I reſigned him totally to my mother, who ſeemed no whit leſs enamoured than myſelf, though doubtleſs not with my degree of danger, not with my tumult of heart; forbid it Heaven! not with my agony of paſſion.—And yet—what am I ſaying?—No, ſhe is all ſerenity and calmneſs—I am all ſtorm and tempeſt; the government [Page 128] of her ſoul has ever been a model of perfection, orderly, correct, chaſtiſed, and pure, without a ſpot or blemiſh: but mine, alas, my ſoul.—To you, my Jane, and to you only, let me pour forth my feelings.—What ſhall I ſay it is? a whirlwind is too tame a word.—Ah me! my poor head turns; the tears guſh forth; my thoughts are loſt; I muſt break off, and pauſe for recollection.
I'll not look back to what I have written. I am very ill, my dear Jane; read me with pity, not with ſcorn; take me as I am, a creature ſcarce itſelf. They tell me I muſt go into the ſouth of France for the recovery of my health: ſilly people! what has ſouth, or north, or any point of the compaſs, to do with my health? Can the air of Montpelier breathe peace into my heart? Is forgetfulneſs the growth of France? Can the Alps ſmother affection? can they ſcreen me from the viſion of Arundel? Yet I will go into the ſouth of France; to the fartheſt land upon the globe I will gladly go, rather than meet him again.
I never ſee him now, though we are under the ſame roof; for he is wounded, and I am [Page 129] wounded, and neither of us can riſe from our couches. Oh! execrable monſter, Sir George Revel! The murderer, to ſtrike his ſword into the breaſt of a defenceleſs man! Aſſaſſin, coward! where was his heart, when he meditated the blow? where were his eyes, when he directed it? Could not the radiancy of an angel dazzle him? Could not the expreſs image of virtue overawe his impious rage? The guardian ſpirit of innocence turned aſide the point of his weapon; it glanced upon the ſide of Arundel, and blood—ſuch as angels ſhed—followed the ſtroke.
I am ill again; my brain whirls, and I run into mere rhapſody. I have done for the preſent. My dear Jane, adieu! Love me, ſpare me, pity me! forget my folly, but remember my affection. Believe, that whilſt I am myſelf, I am yours.
There is a negotiation in advance between Mr. Arundel and that wretch; my father is the mediator, and the firſt article of the treaty conditions, that I ſhall conſent to receive propoſals from Sir George; for you muſt know the monſter is loving, and will do juſtice, if he is well bribed for it. Is it not an honeſt artifice to train him on in hope, till he has made atonement for his murderous aſſault? Can any thing be a criminal deceit, which ſaves the life of Arundel? for the monſter is a duelliſt at all points, and loves fighting ſo well, that he won't wait till his antagoniſt is armed, and is particularly reſolute with his naked ſword againſt a naked man. Till this matter [Page 131] is made up, I won't ſtir; when that is over— ‘Hide me, ye caverns! cover me, ye Alps!’ Montpelier as well as any other place; any other place as well as Montpelier.
A meſſage from Arundel by my mother.—He is ſhocked to hear I have had ſo violent a bleeding.—Yes, Arundel! I've paid you blood for blood.—Your wound is healing, mine rankles at my heart. Poor fellow! he knows it not, he little dreams how mere a murderer he is.—He recommends a ſtyptic, with which it ſeems the ſurgeon ſtopt his bleeding.—I begged my mother to thank him for his concern about me, and aſſure him I had a more effectual ſtyptic in reſource. It was an inconſiderate anſwer, for my mother took the meaning inſtantly, and burſt into tears. Heaven preſerve thee, my child, cried ſhe; may I never live to ſee thy death!—and then, thinking to raiſe my ſpirits, ſhe began to talk of Sir George Revel; ſhe flattered herſelf all things were now in a fair train to be accommodated; Mr. Arundel was penetrated with my ſituation, and would ſtrain every point [Page 132] with his uncle Sir Francis to acquieſce in the apology: he had even promiſed, if the worſt enſued, that he would never take a life, in which my happineſs was intereſted; he would ſooner ſacrifice his own.—Miſtaken, generous man! was this a ſtyptic?—Yes, it made my blood run back upon my heart.—At that moment a ſudden impulſe ſeized me; I forgot my reſolution, and would have given worlds to ſee him. I thought my mother ſeemed to underſtand my wiſh, or perhaps it was her own, for ſhe divides the day between us. I enquired if he was recovering; if he could riſe from his couch without trouble; if he could walk from one room to another: I was then in my dreſſing-chamber, for I cannot endure the confinement of my bed. I was ſitting in my great chair oppoſite to a large glaſs that is placed between the windows; I caught a glance of my pallid, faded face; my ſpirits ſunk at the ſight; I could not bear that he ſhould ſee me ſuch a ſpectacle: I ſuppreſſed the wiſh, and ſaid no more.
My father is almoſt frantic with vexation at my illneſs; he is indefatigable with Sir George; he has reported the affair to the King, and [Page 133] received his Majeſty's command to forbid their proceeding to any further extremities on pain of his diſpleaſure. I hope this will ſilence the old General Sir Francis, and qualify his fiery ſpirit; he is a moſt profound courtier, and upon the beſt terms with my father: he comes frequently to his nephew, but I believe his viſits do not promote his recovery; at leaſt my mother is of that opinion.
Alas! my poor mother; ſhe is far from well: my father bears too hard againſt her on account of this unhappy rupture with Sir George: I know he has given her very angry words, though ſhe is too conſiderate of me to confeſs it. Poor Arundel is no leſs out of favor with him on the ſame ſcore; but as it is his intereſt to ſooth him at this moment, he affects to ſhew him much attention.
Farewell, my dear Jane; my ſpirits are lighter than they were; a gleam of comfort comes over me, and I feel a tranquillity which I have hitherto been a ſtranger to. Sleep ſteals upon me: welcome, ſweet oblivion!
AFTER two hours ſleep in my chair, I awoke with ſtrength and ſpirits ſenſibly refreſhed. Surely my guardian angel, which had perſonated Arundel in my dream, had deſcended upon my heart with healing on his wings: ſo ſtrongly were the form and features of that beloved youth imprinted on my mind's eye, that when I awaked I looked about the room, and hardly could perſuade myſelf it was illuſion: his voice was yet left in my ear; I liſtened, all was ſilence; I ſpoke to him; I ſolicited a reply: it was paſt; reality of happineſs is not for me. Oh charming viſion, how ſhall I recall thee?
My mother crept ſoftly into my room, and was overjoyed to find the alteration in my countenance ſo much for the better: ſhe ſays my looks, before I had the bleeding, were ſo wild and delirious, that they terrified her beyond meaſure. She don't like to talk of [Page 135] Arundel to me, for ſhe believes I am at bitter enmity with him on Sir George's account; yet ſhe brought me good news of his recovery, which ſhe ſaid was ſo far advanced, thar he could walk about his chamber with tolerable eaſe; that there was to be a meeting of the parties concerned for receiving Sir George Revel's apology; ſhe hoped ſoon to congratulate me upon all differences being accommodated; but this ſhe believed would depend altogether upon Mr. Arundel's knowing what my wiſhes were in the caſe, and therefore if I had no objection to a ſhort interview with him, ſhe knew he would be very glad to ſay a few words to me before the parties met; and in truth, if I found my ſtrength and ſpirits equal to the taſk, ſhe thought it might be a mutual benefit to both parties, and prevent any further effuſion of blood.
Oh my dear Jane, what a trepidation ſeized my heart at this moment! The viſion of Arundel was about to be realized. I took ſome time to recover myſelf; and the better to divert my mother's attention from the agitation I was in, pretended to adjuſt ſome [Page 136] little articles of my dreſs, (my face was not now ſo pale and languid as it was when I looked laſt in the glaſs) and having ſettled a few other preliminaries, which female vanity cannot diſpenſe with, I deſired her Ladyſhip to ſignify to Mr. Arundel that I expected the favor of his viſit.
She accompanied him to my door but no further: the moment was too much for me; I was alone with Arundel; the beloved image I had ſeen in my dream, whoſe words yet murmured in my ears, whoſe tender careſſes ſtill impreſſed a melting ſoftneſs on my ſoul, was now in perſon before me, and the ſhadow was converted into ſubſtance. I ſunk back in my chair; he ſprung to my aſſiſtance, and, gently taking my hand in his, demanded if he ſhould call Lady G. to me: to this I replied—By no means; pray, ſit down, Mr. Arundel, and do not be alarmed for me: I have been a good deal weakened by the loſs of blood; we are fellow-ſufferers in that particular; but I am in all other reſpects much better than I have been; I think myſelf greatly recovered within theſe few hours.
I am overjoyed to hear it; but if the honor [Page 137] you have now indulged me in is to coſt you any ſufferings by the exertion it occaſions, I ſhall never forgive myſelf for having made the requeſt.
Mr. Arundel, I requeſt you will conſider your own ſituation, and place yourſelf as much at your eaſe, as if I was not preſent. It is very flattering that you ſhould wiſh to come to me, as I am ſure your motives cannot but be kind and friendly. If one of us is to ſuffer by the exertion this occaſions, I am much afraid the misfortune will be your's, for I ſuſpect your good-will to me may have brought you out of your chamber too ſoon for your ſafety.
When I am in your ſervice, Madam, it is not poſſible for me to think of danger:—What I wiſh to have now the honor of ſaying to you will I hope be underſtood by you as dictated by the ſincereſt reſpect; if I ſeem guilty of any preſumption in requeſting this interview, I beſeech you to believe it can only ſpring from the intereſt I preſume to take in your happineſs. I need not tell your Ladyſhip that [Page 138] the inconvenience I ſuffer at preſent is the effect of an accident, which took place in conſequence of a certain miſunderſtanding that originated at Spring Grove. Accidents of this ſort are ſo eaſily ſettled, that there would not be the leaſt occaſion for the meeting which Lord G. has appointed here this day, neither ſhould I conſent to be preſent at it, if I were not given to underſtand that your Ladyſhip has ſomething more than general wiſhes for an amicable termination of all differences.
You will ſtop me if I proceed too far, but I wiſh to make myſelf correctly underſtood, without treſpaſſing on your delicacy: I muſt beg to be more particular—I have been told you are intereſted in the conſequences that may enſue—
Indeed! that's ſtrong—but I reſpect your ſincerity. I am then to conclude, Lady Louiſa, from what you have been pleaſed to tell me, that were I to purſue my reſentment againſt Sir George Revel to the extremity, which would naturally reſult from ſuch tranſactions as have paſſed between him and me, I ſhould [Page 139] put a life to hazard, that is dear and valuable to you.
I am fully ſatisfied: all my reſentments, however juſt and natural, are for ever buried in my boſom; there they ſhall ſubſide, nor ever endanger the happy object, you have honored with you love. Oh! that he may prove worthy of his happineſs!—I now for the firſt time very ſincerely rejoice that I was not armed when he attacked me, that I had no ſword in my hand to return that death upon him, which he aimed at me.
Had you but ſeen his countenance whilſt he ſpoke theſe words!—Where was his intelligence, that he failed of applying to himſelf thoſe equivocal anſwers I gave? Where was my reſolution, that I did not boldly turn upon him thoſe awakening words—Thou art the [Page 140] man? Generous Arundel, dull only to thine own merits, blind only to a partiality in thine own favor, which in no other caſe could have eſcaped thy notice!
He made a pauſe and caſt his eyes upon me with ſo penetrating a look, that I apprehended he had made a very intereſting diſcovery, and was ſo thoroughly abaſhed that I could not utter a word in reply to the very generous ſpeech he had made me: he certainly perceived my embaraſſment, though I had ſoon reaſon to know he had not interpreted it truly, for he proceeded as follows:—
What honor I may leave behind me in this affair I cannot pretend to ſay, but I ſhall have to reflect it is for your ſake I am ſacrificed, and that reflection will heal every wound. I can break off from the world without regret, the ſhort acquaintance I have made with it will not coſt me many ſighs to renounce; and there are opportunities enough for my choice, where I may have a chance at leaſt of recovering my loſt honor.
[Page 141] Heaven forbid I ſhould alarm you! Be aſſured, Lady Louiſa, that whilſt you are the protectreſs of Sir George Revel, he is in the ſanctuary of an altar, that I cannot violate. Let him devote to gratitude the life you give him; let him dedicate it to thoſe pure and delicate attentions, which may conſtitute your happineſs: if in any future time it ſhould come to paſs that to the injuries he has done to me he baſely adds an injury to his benefactreſs, in that moment my ſword ſhall find him out, and the vengeance, now ſmothered, burſt with double juſtice on his head.
Oh Jane! I am undone in his opinion; I ſuffered him to continue in his ignorance, nay I had not power to undeceive him, though I had been ever ſo willing, for I was now in no condition to reply: the tears ſtarted from my eyes; I trembled with agitation, I hid my face with my handkerchief, and threw myſelf back in my chair.
He roſe from his ſeat uncertain what to do; he came cloſe to my chair as if to tender his aſſiſtance; on a ſudden he ſtopt ſhort and turning from me ſaid, that he was afraid he had expreſſed himſelf very inconſiderately, for which he begged my pardon.
[Page 142] I aſſured him it was not ſo; on the contrary I had heard nothing from him but what did honor to his ſentiments; perhaps, added I, you have miſtaken me in ſome particulars, but time will clear up all things; to that I muſt refer you, and by that I truſt I ſhall be juſtified in your opinion.
I hope, he replied, your Ladyſhip does not ſuſpect me capable of ſo much preſumption as to form opinions for or againſt any reſolutions you may think fit to adopt; I ſhould be of all men moſt impertinent were I to intereſt myſelf in any predilections of Lady Louiſa's, further than to follow her choice with my good wiſhes, wherever it may lead me; but though I cannot prevent thoſe wiſhes from ſpringing in my mind, I can and will prevent their eſcaping from my lips, and I ſolemnly aſſure you that not a ſyllable of what has now paſſed ſhall ever tranſpire from me. I am now going to receive Sir George Revel's apology, totally indifferent as to what it may be, determined only to extricate your mind from its anxiety on his account.
And can you not ſuppoſe that I am an enemy to duels upon general as well as particular motives? is there any thing in nature ſo barbarous [Page 143] and ſavage, ſo oppoſite to every principle of juſtice, humanity and religion? Should I not be in ſome degree an acceſſary to the fatal conſequences that may be expected to enſue, if I failed to employ that influence for your preſervation, which I owe to your voluntary bounty? When you kindly inveſt me with a power over your reſentments, by which I can prevent the effuſion of human blood, would it not be criminal in the extreme if I neglected to exert it? Aſſuredly it would; and therefore, Mr. Arundel, I repeat to you my moſt earneſt entreaties to accept of the atonement, which Sir George Revel is prepared to offer, by doing which you will relieve me from unſpeakable agonies, and reſtore me to my health and ſpirits.
Is there any thing, exclaimed he, I would not do or ſuffer in ſuch a cauſe? From this moment Sir George Revel and I have no quarrel; and that we never may in time to come, it ſhall be my concern to provide againſt all chances of our ever meeting again: ſo I do but hear that you are happy, I cannot be an enemy to the man, who makes you ſo.
So ſaying he diſappeared, and left me to reflect [Page 144] upon the pious fraud I had been practiſing; my thoughts fluctuated alternately from pain to pleaſure without obſerving any regular and determinate courſe; I accuſed myſelf for ſuffering him to depart under an impreſſion, that muſt degrade me in his opinion; but of this I ſoon acquitted myſelf by reflecting that but for this impoſition, there would have been no poſſibility of preventing the duel, and I took credit for having now done as great a violence to my feelings for his ſafety, as he had done to his honor for my repoſe.
It is time indeed to recollect myſelf. Where am I? On a precipice—and yet methinks, if this were ſo, your friendly voice would call me back, not urge me forward, as you now ſeem to do. Had I indeed deſcended into the vale of years, where life's paſſage becomes ſmooth and even, and where no rocks nor precipices obſtruct the traveller, ſtill ſome prudence would be neceſſary to avoid the traps and pits that folly digs even in that level path: but if I have only turned the ſummit of the hill and am not yet landed at the bottom of it, ſhould not I, who aſcended with credit, be cautious to deſcend without diſgrace?
[Page 146] Your letter is a dangerous letter for a wife to read, whoſe mind is actuated by reſentment on one hand and by love on the other. You have not only ſtudied the French writers ſo cloſely, but lived ſo long in their country, that methinks you are become a kind of advocate for their matrimonial ſyſtem, and plead for the propenſities of woman's frail nature with as much ingenious ſophiſtry and as little ſolid argument as the beſt of them.
Will you believe me when I tell you I did not ſee Arundel for ſix hours after I had read your letter? I paſſed that day in reviewing and examining the ſtate of my heart, and I began to flatter myſelf into a perſuaſion that you had decreed wrongfully againſt it. I found a thouſand natural excuſes for the weakneſs I had given way to, when I had my firſt interview with Arundel after his wound; I was then exhauſted and afflicted by the reproaches of Lord G.; Louiſa's illneſs kept my ſpirits in continual alarm; and the ſpectacle which Arundel preſented to my ſight was peculiarly affecting. In this manner I accounted with myſelf for the little command I had over my feelings at a certain criſis, which I was firmly perſuaded would not happen any more.
[Page 147] Elated with the iſſue of this ſelf-examination, I took up your letter with an air of ſatisfaction, and gave it a more attentive peruſal than before, when I had read it with timidity and a certain conſcious reproach.
It ſoothed my agitated ſpirits, it lulled them into ſecurity; And what is this fear-created phantom, ſaid I within myſelf, which I have raiſed up to alarm me? why ſhould I not indulge this pleaſing partiality for a deſerving object? and though I may no longer call it a maternal affection, yet I have the authority of a judicious friend and the teſtimony of a clear conſcience for pronouncing it to be an innocent one.
Here I muſt break off, as Arundel has deſired to ſee my daughter, if her health permits, before the parties meet for ſettling this affair with Sir George Revel. Louiſa has had a long ſleep and waked much refreſhed by it; ſhe conſents to ſee him; I will continue my letter when their interview is over.
Arundel is now in conference with Louiſa. To what purpoſe ſhall I any longer keep up a reſerve and diſſemble with my own heart? [Page 148] why ſhould I diſguiſe from you the pleaſure I received in the few moments I have now paſſed with Arundel after the long intermiſſion, which my ſcruples had impoſed upon me? The very ſight of him put all remonſtrances to flight and ſilenced my inquietude. Nothing ſo gentle can be dangerous; there was a temperate dignity in his looks, that would have aſſured the moſt ſuſpicious, encouraged the moſt timorous. He is the very ſoul of honor; and if it is your pleaſure to call my virtuous attachment by the name of Love, love let it be!—ſo long as virtue is annexed to it and you approve, what ſhall I fear? I wait his return with impatience.
In the mean time let me reveal to you the very inmoſt movements of my heart.—You chided me for affecting to ſhelter myſelf under the privileges of age, and at the ſame time reminded me of a certain date; which I confeſs does not remove me far beyond the confines of youth. I own to you I am flattered by your reproof, and not very much out of humour with my looking-glaſs for depoſing to the truth of your calculation: neglected by my huſband and caſt off from his attentions, I had ceaſed to conſult it with any ſatisfaction; but [Page 149] now, ſince I have perceived new paſſions ſpringing in my heart, and have your privilege for indulging them, I ſurvey myſelf with conſcious pleaſure, and am glad to diſcover, that, though mother to a full-grown daughter, I have not quite made over my whole ſtock of attractions, but kept a reſidue to animate the cold reſpects of friendſhip, and inſpire the ſenſitive boſom of youth with thoſe ſoft and intereſting emotions, which quicken all the ſprings of affection without diſturbing the repoſe of virtue.
Like a reclaimed ſpendthrift, I am now managing the remains of a diminiſhed property with more oeconomy and care than ever I beſtowed upon the entire ſtock; and I can perceive that beauty, amongſt many properties which have led us to compare it to a flower, hath this in common with all the deciduous tribe, that though its principal diſplay of vegetation is in the ſpring, yet its energy is ſtill reſerved for what is called its midſummer-ſhoot.
Alas for me! you can witneſs what a joyleſs ſpring mine was; how little did he, to whom my bloom was dedicated, prize what he poſſeſſed! and now from being careleſs, he is [Page 150] become moroſe: but let me not complain; and you, my friend, you muſt not be too exact in ſhewing me all my injuries: the honor of a wife, when depending on no other ſtay but that of duty, is like a veſſel riding at her ſingle anchor, which in a ſmooth ſea may hold; but, if a ſtorm aſſails her, is but a precarious ſafeguard from its fury.
Arundel is now advancing faſt in his recovery, and my Lord, whoſe great ambition is to call an unprincipled aſſaſſin ſon-in-law, labours hard for peace: the vaſt poſſeſſions of Sir George Revel, not forgetting the weight of his parliamentary intereſt, are merits ſufficient, in his Lordſhip's balance, to make his ſcale preponderate; and my poor girl, whoſe reaſon ſeems no leſs debilitated than her conſtitution by a round of pleaſurable diſſipation, is as eager as her father to ſnatch the glittering bait, inſenſible to the fatal, the envenomed hook, which is lurking under it. In the mean time I, who am a mere negative being, without influence and without effort, am fallen under my Lord's moſt unjuſt ſuſpicion as being a medler in his meaſures, and induſtrious to prejudice my daughter's mind againſt the [Page 151] projected alliance with Sir George: truth is my witneſs, that ſince the fatal affair at Spring-grove, I have never once ventured upon the ſubject with Louiſa, nor is it likely that I ever ſhall. Though I have more than once made theſe aſſertions to my Lord, I ſuſpect they have gained no great belief; for I am ſtraitly watched, and enquiries never fail to be made how often I have been with my daughter, how long I ſtaid with her, and what paſſed between us; ſo that I attend upon her no more than my duty naturally requires of me, and on thoſe occaſions am extremely guarded how I betray the leaſt diſlike of her connection with Sir George.
Thus diſcarded as I am from any intereſt or authority in the concerns of my own family, under the diſpleaſure of my huſband, and upon reſerve with my daughter, my ſole reſource is in the ſociety of Arundel. With him I ſit, by his tender attentions I am reconciled to my ſituation, and for the time forget how truly inſignificant I am become to all the world but him: he ſees how totally I depend upon him; and I cannot doubt but my eyes, which dwell with ſuch delight upon [Page 152] his countenance, have told him to conviction how devotedly my heart adores him. Familiarized to each other, he no longer treats me with that form and diſtance which rank exacts from our inferiors on a firſt acquaintance: ſtill he is the only man I ever met, who knows how to be familiar with elegance, tender with reſpect, and perfectly at eaſe without one trace of unpoliteneſs. Good manners ſeem in him conſtitutionally inherent, for they are never out of ſight a ſingle inſtant: and through all the little ſervices, which my aſſiduity to aſſiſt him in his painful ſituation is for ever offering him, not a touch, a look, a word beyond the limits of a modeſt though affectionate reſpect have I once experienced from him. This gives me a ſecurity in his diſcretion; and now that I have gained a confidence in myſelf from the encouraging explanation in your letter, I have a privilege for indulging all thoſe tender propenſities, which impel my heart towards the moſt amiable of mankind, and make the moments that I paſs with Arundel ſo innocently charming. With joy I have diſcovered his approaches advance ſtep for ſtep with mine; he now takes my hand in his, looks [Page 153] fondly in my eyes, as they are either ſuffuſed with tears of pity for the pain he ſuffers, or brightened by the ſmile of gratitude and love, whilſt he comforts me in my misfortunes, and in the accents of an angel counſels me with the wiſdom of one. In theſe happy moments I have ſeen the riſing colour overſpread his cheeks, his breath fluttering, and his eyes fixed ardently upon mine: believe me, my beloved friend, there is no terror in thoſe looks; his boſom is the repoſitory of honor, his heart is tender, but it is pure withal; there is a dignity in his nature, an inherent power within him that keeps thoſe paſſions, ſo rebellious in ſome breaſts, under perfect controul in his: 'tis then I truly venerate his character; 'tis then I pay the tribute due to his exalted merit; 'tis then I let him ſee without reſerve how much I love and honor him.
I HAD ſcarce ſealed my laſt letter when Louiſa ſent to ſay ſhe was alone, and wiſhed to ſee me. Mr. Arundel had juſt left her; it was plain ſhe had been in tears, and her ſpirits ſeemed extremely fluttered: ſhe told me that the converſation had been very intereſting: he had promiſed her to accept of Sir George Revel's apology, ſo that to-morrow it is to be hoped will ſettle this untoward affair. By the joy which ſhe expreſſed on this account, and the gratitude ſhe ſeemed to bear to Arundel for complying with her requeſt, I am afraid in is too clear that ſhe is decidedly attached to Sir George; but as I am determined not to meddle in an affair, which my Lord takes ſo excluſively upon himſelf, I was careful to avoid the ſubject, and ſhe did not incline to open herſelf to me of her own accord. I was ſorry to hear her ſay that this amiable young man [Page 155] is ſo much hurt by the proceeding, and has put ſuch a force upon his feelings by acquieſcing in the propoſed apology, that he will quit our family and ſtrike into another line of life, though it is what I expected from his ſpirit. I muſt do Louiſa the juſtice to confeſs, that ſhe appeared no leſs penetrated than myſelf by this intelligence, and ſhe was earneſt with me to try all my influence for diſſuading him from the meaſure: ſhe thinks he hinted at the army, and as he is now upon terms with his uncle, the General, this is not unlikely; if my Lord does not withſtand this by all means in his power, or at leaſt if he lets him go without ſome effectual mark of his favor, I ſhall think it moſt ungenerous behavior.
From her chamber I paſſed to Arundel's; there I found him alone in a very melancholy ſtate of mind; it was evident ſomething had paſſed of an unpleaſant ſort, of which I made no enquiries, but ſat down cloſe to the couch, on which he had repoſed himſelf: he ſeemed exhauſted and in pain; I took his hand in mine, and was beginning to count his pulſe, when he withdrew it gently from me, and, with a look of inexpreſſible ſoftneſs, ſaid—Why are you thus anxious about an inſignificant being, [Page 156] whom to-morrow you will be aſhamed to acknowledge? Lady Louiſa is incurably attached to Sir George Revel, and I am too conſiderate of her repoſe, alarming as her ſituation ſeems to be, not to ſacrifice my reſentment at her deſire. When I reflect that your feeling heart will be relieved by the ſame event, that gives eaſe to hers, how can I repent of my promiſe? but indeed this taſk has been a hard one, and unleſs I had felt for your reſponſibility in this affair, all that man can feel for woman, I could never have brought my ſpirit to ſubmit to it.
He turned his eyes upon me with a moſt touching expreſſion; there was a wearineſs and languor in his look that melted me to pity; I could not anſwer him. He put his hand to his ſide, as if his wound ſeemed to pain him; I thought his poſture was uneaſy and I deſired he would ſuffer me to aſſiſt him in arranging it; for this purpoſe I paſſed my arm under his neck to raiſe his head from the couch, and whilſt I was ſupporting it in this manner, he turned his face towards me, and my cheek dropt inſtinctively upon his. What a tremor then ran to my heart! he muſt have [Page 157] felt its tumult; his own, mean time, apparently enjoyed no greater quiet, for his breath fluttered, and his whole frame was agitated. He took his hand from his ſide, and paſſing it round my waiſt, ſtrained me to him with a gentle preſſure.
Whilſt he held me thus in his embrace, I ſaid to him in a whiſper—Oh, Arundel, let this virtuous endearment be the ſacred ſeal of our friendſhip! the love I bear you is as pure as your own unblemiſhed honor; reproach me not for my indiſcretion, if I now give way to the tenderneſs that overflows my heart, but regard me as a grateful creature, who owes every thing to your kindneſs, and who would be miſerable in the extreme, if your pity did not chear her.
As he uttered theſe concluding words he dropt his head upon my ſhoulder, and preſſing me more cloſely to him eagerly exclaimed—Save me, my deareſt lady, ſave yourſelf! then extricating himſelf from the ſituation we were in, he took both my hands in his, and [Page 158] raiſing them devoutly to his lips—Go, cried he, moſt amiable of women, for the love of Heaven be gone, before I forfeit your eſteem for ever.
THIS ſilly duel is blown over, and there remain no diſputes to ſettle but what ſubſiſt between you and me: I ſuppoſe we ſhall hardly adjuſt them at the ſword's point; and yet I believe that is the only weapon at which I am any match for you.
'Twas a ridiculous convention ours; my Lord ſpoke more ſuo with great dignity, but I really cannot remember what he ſaid, and for [Page 159] the beſt reaſon in the world; but I know a little duſt thrown in the eyes of us poor mortals from the hand of Majeſty, can do ſtrange things, aye and ſettle mighty feuds—
Our good King, God bleſs him! is a good man, and very conſiderate, as his Lordſhip gravely told us, of his ſubjects lives and limbs; but I cannot help thinking, in all due deference, that he will cruelly miſpend his pains, if he ſuffers himſelf thus to be drawn out as middle man in every hot-headed brawl that is ſtarted in his kingdom.Hi motus animorum atque haec certamina tantaPulveris exigui jactu compreſſa quieſcunt.
A notable wiſe juſtice of peace, whom I knew in our county, uſed to compoſe ſquabbles between his neighbours by telling the parties at a word, that if they could not ſettle their differences on the ſpot, to betake themſelves to the ring in his court-yard, and fight it fairly out; but if they were willing to agree, let them go down to his cellar, and ſhake hands over a tankard.
Something of this ſort might paſs at our cabinet for what I know; a board of French [Page 160] marechals would probably have decided for the duel, but it was thrown over without a diſſenting voice in our council. I dare ſay Sir George uttered a very well-penned apology, and I make no doubt the author of it ſat cloſe at his elbow to prompt him: to do him juſtice, he had got it well by heart, for he ſeemed to run it off pretty glibly; but how it run, and what it was, I really cannot take upon myſelf to tell you, as I am afraid I was then rather unpolitely engaged with a wondrous paragraph in the morning newſpaper of an extraordinary genius for eating ſtones—thank my ſtars, thought I, here is one fellow found who has as ſtrong a digeſtion as I have!—As ſoon as the worthy Baronet had cloſed his peroration, I aſked the two officers, who were witneſſes of the aſſault, and now preſent on my part, if they had attended to the words which the gentleman had been repeating? They had ſtrictly attended to them.—Were they ſuch as they thought I might be ſatisfied with, and yet retain their good opinion?—They were ſuch as would very honorably acquit me to the world.—Then, added I, there is no occaſion to give the Gentleman any further trouble.—They [Page 161] aſked me, if I would inſiſt upon the apology being printed?—I replied, that I had no ambition of being the ſubject, or even the author of ſuch a publication, and therefore hoped it would not go to the preſs. And now my Lord made a kind of farewell ſpeech to the court, in which his Majeſty was again remembered with all due reverence, and ſomething very prettily brought in about the calumet of peace, to our great edification; the apologizing Baronet made his bow, I ſhook my friendly officers by the hand; and ſo, my dear Charles, there is an end of the matter— ‘Solvantur tabulae.’ I might well have proceeded one word further in my quotation, which would naturally apply to ſo ridiculous a conſultation for healing a man's body with a few ſyllables, but in truth my temper did not ſuit for laughter, however well calculated the ſcene might be to provoke it;—for you will obſerve I have not mentioned Sir Francis Arundel as a party preſent; read the following apology.
My heart is broke by the fatal event of this morning: my beloved, my only ſon has fallen a victim to honor, and loſt his life in a duel. I conjure you therefore, by all that is ſacred to man, follow not his ſteps, but accept the atonement, which will be offered you this morning. Let me not be bereft of you both: you are now my laſt hope, my heir, alas! and muſt I add my only ſon?
Here is a melancholy caſe in point for your argument againſt duelling. I never ſaw my couſin but once in my life; he was a fine perſonable young man, but had an air of uncommon ferocity and haughtineſs, and ſeemed very ambitious of being employed in my affair, but by no means in a pacific capacity. I whiſpered one of the officers, and found he was informed of the event; he ſaid the deceaſed was clearly in the fault, and that it was a very frivolous affair about a common woman. I find myſelf able to be carried [Page 163] to my uncle's houſe, which is not far off, and ſhall prepare myſelf to make my condolances.
As there is no doubt but this compromiſe of ours will ſoon bring about a marriage between Lady Louiſa and Sir George, this houſe will no longer be an agreeable reſidence for me; nor can I think of keeping up any connection with the father-in-law of ſuch an aſſaſſin; for to ſay the truth, my dear Charles— ‘Haeret lateri lethalis arundo.’
[Page 164] Is it an obſervation founded in truth, that theſe high ſpirits ſink under their ſorrows more than men of ordinary paſſions? I am apt to think moſt extremes in nature are nearer to each other than we are aware of; at leaſt they ſeem to hold a very good correſpondence together, though they reſide at a diſtance.
Our meeting was very diſtreſsful: he threw his arms round my neck and gave vent to the vehemence of his grief: ſtrong guſts of tears and heavy ſighs by turns broke from him, and at intervals his face ſeemed to ſuffer a kind of convulſive twitching, that looked very alarming.
He eagerly demanded if my affair was compromiſed, and when I aſſured him it was, he cried out,—I thank God for it! two victims to that curſed practice of duelling would be too many for one morning, and for one ſad heart to ſurvive. You ſee me here, nephew, a miſerable man, at the end of life bereft of my only child, who has ſacrificed himſelf to a faſhion, to a freak, to the ſtart of a moment; he is taken from me in the prime of his days, [Page 165] unprepared for death, in the heat of paſſion, upon a fooliſh quarrel for a worthleſs trollop: What will become of me, if you do not ſupport me in my affliction and fill up the place of a ſon?
Yes, nephew, continued he, you muſt be now my Francis Arundel, my ſon, my ſole ſupport. Be kind to me, be an honor to the name you bear, and take example by the fate of your unhappy couſin. I feel ſome awkward ſymptoms, which convince me there is no time to be loſt in making myſelf ready for my call: I have ſent for my lawyer and ſhall not ſleep till I have put the laſt hand and ſeal to my will. You are the only Arundel of the generation under me now remaining of our branch; you are therefore my natural heir, and as ſuch I ſhall inſtantly adopt you. Your uncle John, who is now at ſea, has ever been a kind and loving brother to me; he is a noble, gallant fellow and an [Page 166] honor to his profeſſion, but at his time of life there can be no likelihood of his marrying, therefore I ſhall charge your eſtate with ſuch an annuity to him, as in his plain way of living will ſupply all the comforts he can wiſh to enjoy. Of your father you muſt forgive me if I do not ſpeak.
I am ſorry for the cauſe, I replied, and I wiſh it was in my power to be a mediator; but I truſt that time and milder ſentiments on both ſides will effect that reconciliation which I have not the preſent preſumption to undertake. I hope, notwithſtanding, that you will allow me to inform my father in general terms of all which this fatal morning has produced, ſo far at leaſt as it affects me.
Do as you like, cried he, do as you like in that particular, but do not talk to me about it; I will have no concern or correſpondence with him. As for myſelf, I cannot expect to laſt long, and probably ſhall give you the ſlip upon very ſhort notice; therefore, my dear boy, as we have been too long eſtranged from each other, let me hope we ſhall not be ſeparated for the remainder of my [Page 167] days; and as your fortune now places you far above dependance, I ſuppoſe you will not heſitate at detaching yourſelf from your preſent ſituation with Lord G.
To this I ſtrove to make a ſuitable and becoming reply, acknowledging my obligations for the bounty he intended to beſtow on me in grateful terms, without running into any fulſome proteſtations: I ſaid I was both ready and deſirous of attaching myſelf entirely to his perſon and ſervice from henceforth, and I hoped the period of our acquaintance to come would be much longer than he ſeemed to expect. With reſpect to Lord G. I had ſuch ſtrong reaſons to wiſh myſelf out of his family, that I ſhould obey his commands with the greateſt pleaſure, and would ſeize the firſt opportunity for taking leave of his Lordſhip and all further connections with him.
I ſee no neceſſity for that, ſaid my uncle; for though you will find yourſelf in affluence, you may avail yourſelf of Lord G.'s introduction for becoming a man of buſineſs, by which you may be an active and uſeful member of the community; and this leads me to remind [Page 168] you, that by the fatal event of this morning there is a vacancy in my borough, and as I believe you are juſt of age to take you ſeat, I propoſe, with your good liking, to bring you into parliament.
I will not take up your attention, I replied, at this time, by giving you all my motives for wiſhing to detach myſelf from the politics and connections of Lord G.; I flatter myſelf they are ſuch as you will not condemn me for: and in the ſame ſpirit of independence you will allow me to declare, before you take any ſtep for bringing me into parliament, that I ſhould hold myſelf as a traitor to my country and a diſgrace to your name, if I could conſent to enter upon that truſt, but as a free and unbiaſſed member, not wedded to any party or opinion, no follower of Lord G. nay permit me to add, and be not offended at my plainneſs, not even of you my benefactor.
A gleam of joy ſparkled in his eyes as I ſaid this; he roſe from his ſeat, took me cordially by the hand and immediately cried out—That's right, my good boy! I ſee you are a true Arundel; henceforth you are my ſon. [Page 169] —The gleam was momentary; his features fell, convulſion ſhook his face—Ah me! he cried, and ſunk again into his chair, covering his cheeks with both hands, as if to ſtop their motion, or at leaſt conceal it from my notice.
It was a piteous ſight and affected me extremely. I thought it was beſt not to take notice to him of the diſorder he was too viſibly in, and therefore to divert his attention I began to tell him of the match Lord G. was making for his daughter with Sir George Revel, at the ſame time obſerving to him that it was impoſſible for me to be cordial with the father-in-law of a wretch, who in the moſt diſhonorable manner had attempted my life; for though it was true I had made peace with him, I was determined never to make acquaintance either with him or his connections.
Well, well, ſaid my uncle, take your own meaſures and be your own maſter in all reſpects: it was ſo I treated my poor unfortunate ſon, and ſo I ſhall treat you. I deſire you will command in this houſe, for I ſhall no [Page 170] more concern myſelf with the affairs of this world, when I have once completed the deed that is to put you in poſſeſſion; it is fit that I, who am haſtening out of life, ſhould retire from trouble. If you are determined to have no further connection with Lord G. I do not wiſh to enquire into your reaſons; ſo long as you adopt them I am diſpoſed to think them juſt.
Here his ſervant came to announce the lawyer's arrival; upon which he deſired me to return to Lord G. and communicate to him as much as I thought fit of my affairs, and as ſoon as my health permitted to take poſſeſſion of his houſe, where he ſhould give orders for my reception. Conſult your ſurgeon however, added he, and do nothing raſhly to endanger your health.
Here we parted: and thus have I given you the particulars of a ſudden and extraordinary revolution in my fortune, which changes the whole ſyſtem of my life and opens a new proſpect, flattering indeed to my ambition, but awful to a mind which foreſees the trials it has to undergo, and trembles for the reſponſibility [Page 171] which muſt accompany ſuch unmerited good fortune.
I HAVE the painful taſk of informing you, that Sir Francis Arundel had this morning the melancholy account of his ſon's being killed in a duel. I have viſited him in conſequence of his misfortune, and am ſorry to add that the violence of his grief ſeems to threaten him with very alarming ſymptoms. I ſubmit to you whether it may not be adviſeable to make a journey to town upon this occaſion: I will flatter myſelf that grief will not loſe its property in his inſtance, nor fail to ſoften the aſperity of his mind towards a brother, whoſe nature I am aſſured is thoroughly diſpoſed to peace and reconciliation: no efforts on my part ſhall be omitted to prepare my uncle's heart with thoſe healing impreſſions which [Page 172] may diſpoſe it for the happy return of brotherly love and affection.
Sir Francis has been pleaſed to ſignify his intention of making me his heir, and propoſes my immediate ſucceſſion to the vacancy in his borough, which the unhappy event of this day has occaſioned. Theſe favors have been accompanied with a requeſt, that I will live with him in future, which will of courſe incapacitate me from any longer attendance upon Lord G. Theſe commands I am now preparing to obey, and ſhall very ſoon take leave of my preſent ſituation.
I have been ſome time confined by an accidental hurt upon one of my ribs, but am ſo well recovered of it, that I expect in a few days to be out again. I hope you continue to enjoy your health; that you long may is the ſincere prayer of
Your moſt dutiful ſon and devoted ſervant.
WHAT may be thoſe properties of grief, which you are ſo well acquainted with, I am not ſtudious to learn, nor over-eager to experience; if you mean me to believe that grief will melt the marble of your uncle's heart, they muſt be miraculous properties indeed, and a great deal more than I ſhall put my truſt in. As for a journey to London upon the mere expectation of ſeeing this mighty miracle performed upon your uncle, you muſt excuſe me if I do not hold it quire ſo adviſeable as you ſeem to think it; nor is it altogether ſo eaſy and perfunctory a matter for me to undertake at my time of life, perſwaded moreover as I am, that miracles have ceaſed.
I am obliged to you for the offer of your intereſt with Sir Francis in the way of reconcilement; [Page 174] but are you ſure I ſeek that reconcilement? are you ſo well ſatisfied with your own great powers of perſuaſion, that you can by the charms of your rhetoric convert the hard rock into the ſpringing well? Is there no delicacy previouſly to be obſerved towards my honor, which perhaps may not willingly condeſcend to owe that reconcilement to the influence of a third perſon, which my own merits could not command? You may inherit your uncle's property, Mr. Arundel, but I envy you it not, if you take his pride into the bargain, and with it any portion of that inſenſibility towards my feelings, which with his other poſſeſſions ſeems in this inſtance to have devolved upon you.
Though you may in time be found the heir of his eſtate, remember at the ſame moment I, if living, am the heir of his title. Where is the proviſion to ſupport it? Am I to crouch to you, like the deſcendants of the aged Eli to the child Samuel, for a piece of ſilver and a morſel of bread; and ſhall I ſay, like them, Put me I pray thee into one of the prieſts offices, that I may eat a piece of bread? No, [Page 175] Sir, I am a prieſt already, and have juſt enough to purchaſe that poor diet without your help; and Sir Joſeph Arundel (if ever that ſhall be my title) ſhall ſtill toil on in the humble office of a pariſh prieſt, nor crouch for a ſingle morſel of thoſe rich endowments, which have paſſed over his hoary hairs to fall upon the giddy head of youth.
But I muſt revoke that word, when you take your ſeat amongſt the ſenators and elders of the ſtate. Happy nation, to be ſo wiſely governed, and thrice happy conſtituents, who are to conſign their intereſts to ſo grave, ſo competent, ſo experienced a repreſentative!
You are pleaſed to tell me that your uncle has deſired you to live with him, and abandon the ſituation in which my intereſt placed you with a noble and powerful patron: and you have obeyed his commands; obeyed them without reference to me; joined with my worſt enemy, deſerted my beſt friend, and this by the commands of your uncle! If my commands go for nothing, might you not have paid ſome little attention to my wiſhes? Might you not have ſtopt to hear them, to [Page 176] enquire of them, to know at leaſt what it is your father wiſhes, and then it would have been time enough to obey what your uncle commands.
You ſay you have been confined by an accidental hurt upon one of your ribs; my information is that you have been fighting a duel; you can beſt tell which is the truth. You may have had your uncle's commands for this alſo; he has been a man of war from his youth, and dearly he abides the paſſion he has always had for blood: the judgment has fallen upon his own houſe; he that ſmiles with the ſword ſhall periſh by the ſword. In this, as in the relinquiſhment of your patron, you have not waited even for my wiſhes; for it is not likely that I ſhould recommend a practice, which though ſtamped with the ſpecious name of honor, violates the laws of God as well as man. If then I am founded in my fact, and this hurt on your ribs, which you lightly term accidental, is in truth a wound you have received from the ſword of a duelliſt, I can only remark, that you have taken a very convenient way of throwing your faults upon chance; [Page 177] which being but a ſlender carrier, will I am afraid in time be ſo much overloaded by you, as to fall under his burthen.
I Have now the happineſs to inform my dear Jane, that this horrible ſuſpenſe is over, and Mr. Arundel has accepted Sir George Revel's apology. But think not that my fears are over, my ſorrows at reſt; no, they are of the Hydra generation, and ſeem even to multiply by amputation. In the firſt place, my impatient father has opened upon me already, and in this ſtile he has diſcourſed—
Well, Louiſa, I have at laſt brought this young man of our's to reaſon; our friend Sir George Revel has condeſcended to make him a very handſome apology, and he with a great deal of very haughty indifference has condeſcended to accept of it. I believe in my conſcience [Page 178] the fellow's head is turned by the ſituation I have raiſed him to; but I ſhall take his pride down a peg or two before long.
Pooh! what ſignifies whether you have diſcovered it or not? I tell you theſe academics, when they have ſtuffed a little Greek and Latin under their caps, are as vain as peacocks; but I ſhall pluck ſome of his fine feathers, I can tell him. It will be ſome years before I ſhall ſtand in need of the father's ſervices again, and it will not be much ſooner that the ſon will ever be the better for mine.
Well recollected, my dear! and what ſubject can be more agreeable, than the affair we have in view reſpecting Sir George Revel? You ſee what a fine gallant fellow he is, elegant in his figure, manners and addreſs; quite a man of the world, a finiſhed gentleman; travelled, ſpeaks the languages, dreſſes well, entertains well, dances well; gives the faſhion, ſplendid in his equipage, worſhipt by all the fine women [Page 179] about town, and inconteſtably the firſt match in point of fortune now in the kingdom.
Rich, child! there is no end to his property in land and money: then his boroughs—I verily believe he has intereſt, if well managed, to command eight votes in Parliament at the loweſt computation. Sir George Revel's political weight is, excluſive of all other conſiderations, a very great thing: hitherto it has been thrown into the oppoſing ſcale, and if he and his members had not very handſomely ſeceded from the diviſion of yeſterday, we of the Miniſtry ſhould have loſt the queſtion, ſo nearly were we balanced. Theſe, Louiſa, are only the firſt fruits of his attachment; the proſpect of an alliance with my family has already made him neutral, there only wants another ſtep to convert him into a friend. You ſee, my dear, how the father is indebted to the daughter's charms; and therefore, taking all theſe conſiderations into my view, I find ſo many things conſpire to recommend him to my good liking, that, high as I hold your pretenſions, I not only give you my conſent to purſue your inclinations by marrying Sir George Revel, [Page 180] but muſt fairly confeſs it is become the warmeſt wiſh of my heart that you ſhould do ſo.
Your mother think! cried he, ſtarting up in a rage—your mother think not ſo favorably of Sir George! what right has ſhe to think at all about him? Do you ſuppoſe your mother's opinions are to weigh with me? Who is your mother, that ſhe ſhould think for me, and who am I? Did I raiſe the daughter of a plain country gentleman to the rank of a Counteſs, to fill her head with notions that ſhe is to direct the intereſts, the alliances of my family? I ſhall ſoon teach her a better underſtanding of her duty; and I deſire you will not pay the leaſt regard to what ſhe thinks in disfavor of Sir George Revel, when I peremptorily and definitively declare for him.
I was now ſo much alarmed for the miſchief I had done, and for the ſtorm of paſſion and reproach, which I had unadviſedly drawn down upon my poor ſuffering mother, that I was debating [Page 181] with myſelf in what words to declare to him my own fixt and determined averſion from the match he propoſed; but his looks were ſo furious, that they frightened me from my purpoſe, and I did not venture upon any thing more than to beſeech him in the moſt earneſt manner not to let my mother ſuffer his diſpleaſure for what I had ſaid: I ſolemnly aſſured him ſhe had never ſpoke a word in Sir George's diſpraiſe, ſince his Lordſhip's anger about the affair at Spring Grove; on the contrary I proteſted, and I with truth, that ſhe had always held a language entirely conformable to his Lordſhip's wiſhes, ever ſince ſhe had known what thoſe wiſhes were; and that it would make me the moſt miſerable of beings to bring trouble and reproach upon her, only becauſe I ſuppoſed that ſhe poſſibly might not have altered her opinion of the man, though ſhe had changed her way of ſpeaking of him.
He had ſcarce patience to hear me thus far, when he cut me ſhort, and in a tone very little ſoftened by all I had been ſaying, thus reſumed his invectives—I know what your mother has done, full well, and I know what ſhe is now doing; caballing with that Arundel [Page 182] againſt me and Sir George Revel: I ſhould not have been at all ſurpriſed if ſhe had gone the length of preſſing him into the duel, had not the chaſtiſement he has already met with cooled his courage: Was ever ſuch an affront offered to a man of Sir George's ſort? was ever ſuch an inſolent meſſage ſent by ſuch an inſoſolent meſſenger? Thank my ſtars, he has ſmarted for it; he has been pretty well puniſhed, and had not he ſtopt where he did, he would have been completely provided for; but Sir George's life was of too much conſequence to be pitted againſt a beggar. I will keep no ſuch fellow in my family, warm no ſuch ſnake in my boſom; though he is a wounded one, he is venomous, and I will diſpatch him. Let us ſend this inſtant for your mother and her accomplice into the room, and you ſhall hear me give him his diſmiſſion before her face.
He was actually going in his rage to ring the bell, when I juſt ſummoned ſtrength of voice enough to cry out—For Heaven's ſake, my Lord! ſtop your hand! my ſpirits are ſo exhauſted, that if you proceed any further, I ſhall faint. He pauſed, looked at me, ſaw the [Page 183] ſituation I was in, and in great haſte called my ſervant: my mother herſelf was in a moment at the door and ran to my aſſiſtance; my father walked out of the room; I had juſt time, before my ſervant came to me, to ſay in a low voice to Lady G. Alas, madam! I have undeſignedly ſet my father in a rage againſt you; my heart bleeds for you; oh! that I might die and be no longer the unhappy cauſe of all your ſufferings!—My dear, dear child, ſaid ſhe, be under no pain about me: your father's rage has no longer any terrors; I ſhall meet it with perfect compoſure.—I ſcarce know what followed; after ſome time ſhe left me to the care of my woman, and went out of the room in tears.
Strengthen my brain, kind Heaven! it is very weak; it ſhakes, it wanders: ſupport it, I implore thee, in that moment, when to the face of my enraged father I ſhall reſolutely denounce ſcorn and rejection to that wretch Sir George, and vindicate an unoffending, injured mother.
YOU are not half ſo angry with me as I am with myſelf for writing you ſo inconſiderate a letter. The ſubject ſeized me in an unfortunate moment; you know the warmth of my reſentments, and can make ſome allowances for an imagination at all times perhaps too volatile, but, when heated by ſuch indignities as your unfeeling Lord had caſt upon the favorite of my heart, not likely to be reſtrained within the bounds of prudence.
I am a fooliſh old woman, who am apt to ſpeak what I think, and write as I feel; I am therefore always employed with my friends and correſpondents either in committing errors or atoning for them. Your conduct has been ſo uniform, that I have fallen into fewer ſcrapes of this ſort with you than any body elſe; you are not familiar with my abſurdities, and therefore it was, that this appeared ſo great to you; [Page 185] ſome of my more experienced intimates would only have ſaid—This is ſo like Dormer—and thought no more of it.
Now if I had ever learnt the art to blot, I would ſtrike out this nonſenſical paragraph; but I go beyond Ben Jonſon in my love of Shakeſpear, for I do not ſtop on this ſide of idolatry; I idolize even his errors, and like Alexander's wry-necked courtiers, copy the inaccuracy, becauſe I cannot reach the ſublimity, of his genius.
Do you think I have lived ſingle all my days only becauſe I could not find a huſband? No, my dear Lady, in good Queen Beſs's golden days, or ſomething later perhaps, I made ſome noiſe in the world and had offers in plenty, ſome tolerable, ſome intolerable; but, as Arundel was not then born, and I could find no man entirely to my mind, I knew my temper too well to truſt it to any one man's keeping for life, when it could hardly hold out for a day. There were two things my ſpirit was [Page 186] never proof againſt; it could reſiſt neither kindneſs nor unkindneſs; therefore I argued with myſelf thus—As it is the nature of thoſe inſidious animals called lovers to be moſt alluringly kind, and as it has ſometimes happened that thoſe tireſome creatures called huſbands will be moſt provokingly unkind, I ſhall infallibly paſs myſelf over from one to the other and probably forget to carry my reputation with me; for this reaſon I thought it beſt to have nothing to ſay to either one or the other, and thus it has come to paſs that with ſome hard ſtruggles, and now and then a hair-breadth eſcape, with a great deal of reaſoning and a good deal of repugnance, here I am at your command as veritable an old maid as moſt are at ſeventy years end: how much longer I ſhall hold out in this humour I will not pretend to ſay, for I am coming up to London in all my charms, and if my ſpectacles ſhould have the property of Archimedes's glaſſes, and ſet the tender heart of Arundel on fire, it is all over with me; I ſhall be found in the likeneſs of Hogarth's old bride at the altar; I may as well ſtep into the frame at once and take my poſt in the print-ſhops, for every body will know me.
[Page 187] And now to be ſerious.—The concluſion of your interview with Arundel threw me into a trembling: much as I love tender ſcenes, I do not wiſh my real friends to be the performers of them. It is too like vaulting on the rope, a paſtime I was never fond of; a falſe ſtep breaks the vaulter's neck: thank the fates, you are fairly on your feet again! We old goſſips, in whom the heyday of the blood is over, do as much miſchief with our prattle, as trumpeters in a battle by their clamour, when they ſet folks a fighting, and themſelves keep clear of the fray.
I ſhall be heartily glad to hear that Arundel is well of his wound, and that wicked couch out of his chamber; it will not then be incumbent upon you to nurſe him any longer: there is not a more tickliſh office in nature than to be ſettling and arranging a young man's poſture on theſe charitable occaſions, and adjuſting his head upon a pillow, when he cannot do it for himſelf; I would as ſoon handle a wounded waſp; they ſeem dying, but they have ſtrength to ſting.
I remember to have been in the ſame predicament with a lover of my own near a century [Page 188] ago; the poor man had been in the hundreds of Eſſex, where he had caught the maladie du pays, and was chattering and ſhivering in as compleat an ague-fit as ever came out of the fens: my fooliſh pity perſwaded me to viſit him; I thought I could not have done it at a leſs dangerous moment; he was as unpromiſing and harmleſs a lover as you ever beheld; for my part I thought him dying, and began to be ſo full of commiſeration and kindneſs that I charmed away his ague ſo effectually that I was very near conjuring up a worſe enemy in its place. In ſhort, my dear Lady, I learnt enough by the danger I eſcaped never to go a nurſing ſick lovers any more.
My Lord and I are upon the point of ſeparation; I have had an interview with him, of which I muſt give you the particulars; as it is probably the laſt I ſhall have to relate, you will be more ready to excuſe the length and dullneſs of the relation.
My dear Louiſa had rather unadviſedly let fall a hint to his Lordſhip that I was not of the ſame way of thinking with himſelf in regard to Sir George Revel: this made him furious, and all ſhe could ſay to allay his anger, and convince him that I had not practiſed upon her mind, was to no purpoſe.
[Page 190] By what right, Madam, do you preſume to oppoſe my authority in this family? How is it that you take upon yourſelf, knowing as you do that Sir George Revel has my approbation and full conſent to marry my daughter, how is it I ſay that you take upon yourſelf to hinder and obſtruct that match, by ſeizing every ſecret, underhand opportunity of decrying that gentleman's character and perſon in her hearing? I would have you know, Madam, that theſe inſidious practices againſt me ſhall no longer be put up with: I will not ſacrifice my daughter's intereſt and happineſs to your whim and caprice; nor, becauſe a paltry College-boy, whom I have too good-naturedly received as a dependant into my houſe and family, has been inſtigated to affront a man of fortune and faſhion, and been properly chaſtiſed for it, will I ſuffer him to carry on a cabal under my very roof, and effect that revenge by ſecret means, which he wanted ſpirit to purſue in a more open manner.
I could perceive the firm and deliberate manner in which I addreſt him, was what he did not expect; he pretended however to paſs it off with a contemptuous ſneer, and told me I might do as I liked; whether I anſwered him or anſwered him not was of very little conſequence; he had made up his mind.
If your Lordſhip has made up your mind againſt conviction, I replied, there is indeed but little uſe in my ſpeaking at all; but if there are ſuch things as truth and honor in exiſtence, I call them to witneſs that I have never once oppoſed your wiſhes for an alliance with Sir George Revel, ſince the affair at your villa, for which I underwent your diſpleaſure ſo ſeverely: I repeat to you, my Lord, in the moſt ſolemn manner, that I have never inſinuated to Louiſa, even in the moſt diſtant degree, any thing to that gentleman's diſadvantage.
No, my Lord; there you muſt excuſe me; I have ſtrictly done my duty in not oppoſing [Page 192] the perſon you approve of; but ſo long as my thoughts do not offend againſt your commands, I conceive I have a right to keep them within my own breaſt, and it muſt be ſomething more than inquiſitorial torture that ſhall force them from me.
Upon my word you are grown very lofty on a ſudden; but as I know your thoughts full well there needs no inquiſition to extort them from you: yes, Madam, I know your thoughts and I know your counſels; I know your enmity againſt Sir George, and I know the fomenter of that enmity. A dependant I can eaſily diſmiſs out of my ſight; but I would have you alſo to know, Lady G. that I will not ſuffer even a wife to remain under this roof, who is ſecretly plotting with an upſtart creature of her own training to poiſon the affections and counteract the welfare of my daughter, in the moſt eſſential concern of her life.
I care not; any where but to Spring Grove. And for Mr. Arundel, your confidante, I deſire you will be preſent, whilſt I give him his diſmiſſion—Having ſo ſaid he rung the bell, and a ſervant attending, bade him tell Mr. Arundel, if he was able to leave his chamber, he deſired to ſee him immediately. As ſoon as the ſervant was gone, he ſaid to me, I deſire, Lady G. you will not leave the room. I made no reply, and a ſilence enſued till Mr. Arundel entered, leaning on the ſervant's arm.
There is ſomething awful in the human countenance, where courage and integrity reſide; but when theſe virtues are ſet off with manly beauty, ſuch as Arundel diſplayed upon his entrance, the ſwelling heart of pride will ſhrink before it, and the tyrant feel himſelf a coward.
It was evidently ſo with my inſulting Lord, whoſe ſtorm, ſo loud before a woman, lowered itſelf into a ſmall, ſtill voice, which opened with an apology for bringing him out of his chamber, when the motion ſeemed ſo painful to him.
His Lordſhip was hampered, and I dare ſay heartily repented of his undertaking, but his dread of betraying himſelf in my preſence, puſhed him on the ſtage and he began very lamely to open the ſcene, as follows:—
Mr. Arundel, I have a negotiation now going on in my family, in which Sir George Revel is a party very intimately concerned; and though peace is now eſtabliſhed between you, yet, conſidering all that has paſſed, I think your longer reſidence in this family can neither be agreeable to yourſelf, nor altogether convenient to Sir George or me.
Your Lordſhip judges with great delicacy of my feelings, as far as your motives for wiſhing my departure ariſe from your conſideration for me only: but, my Lord, from the urgency of your meſſage, and theſe commands following ſo cloſe upon my acquieſcence in Sir George's apology, I ſhould preſume you have other motives more preſſing than my convenience, which now induce you to lay thoſe commands upon me.
I humbly thank your Lordſhip for this early proof of your ſincerity; but I muſt alſo appeal to your juſtice; and, as it is known to my friends that I have had the honor of being admitted into your Lordſhip's family, I beg to know whether I have your leave and commiſſion to tell them that I go out of it with equal honor.
I ſhall not commit my reaſons to your report, Sir, I ſhall give them myſelf to your father and your uncle Sir Francis, which are all the friends of your's that I am acquainted with. As for you, I have only to recommend it to you to return back to your ſtudies at Cambridge and purſue a line of life that you are more fit for. It is not for a dependant to enter into cabals againſt his patron's connections [Page 196] and interfere in the concerns of the noble family he is allowed to live in; the prudence and circumſpection neceſſary for ſuch a ſtation your books it ſeems have not inſtructed you in, and nothing but experience of the world can teach. The ſituation I had intended to place you in, is a poſt of confidence and private truſt; it is through your own fault that theſe kind intentions do not take place, and it would be only leading you into diſappointments, if I were to let you build any hopes of favor or promotion from me.
I watched the countenance of Arundel, whilſt this was paſſing, and ſaw his eyes ſparkle with fire at ſome expreſſions that touched him, and need not be pointed out to your notice: the ſtruggle he had within himſelf to repreſs his immediate reſentment was apparent, but after a ſhort pauſe, when my Lord had done ſpeaking, he made him this reply:
My Lord, I relinquiſh all hopes of favor or promotion from you without ſuffering the leaſt diſappointment, and ſhould chearfully quit a ſituation, which is now become incompatible with my preſent views in life, if it was not accompanied [Page 197] with a charge againſt my character of a very ſerious nature, and which I am very ſure I do not deſerve from your Lordſhip: you accuſe me of entering into cabals againſt your connections, and interfering in the concerns of your family. What connections of your's have I caballed againſt? What family concerns have I interfered in? I am intitled to my defence, my Lord, and therefore I deſire you will ſtate my guilt.
The connection I allude to, Sir, is that which I have in contemplation to enter into with Sir George Revel; that as I take it is a very ſerious concern; and I have too good grounds for belief, not to be warranted in ſaying that you have been very hoſtile to Sir George; nay that you are ſo ſtill, and have taken every means in your power, jointly with the Lady preſent, to raiſe prejudices againſt him in that boſom where leaſt of all they ought to take place.
I ſhall anſwer very plainly to every part of your Lordſhip's charge; and firſt, that I have been hoſtile to Sir George Revel. It is ſomething extraordinary, when your Lordſhip ſees me here before you carrying the marks of that [Page 198] man's brutal attack upon me, at a time I had no arms to defend myſelf with, that you accuſe me of hoſtility; eſpecially when I have refrained from taking either perſonal or legal vengeance for the injury. My Lord, when I called upon Sir George Revel to explain ſome very inſolent expreſſions he had treated me with under the protection of your roof, I went to him in a peaceable manner, in my riding dreſs, as I had diſmounted from my horſe, without any weapon whatever; and this I did from delicacy to his ſituation, knowing he was then upon guard, and for the very purpoſe that he might not be tempted to a violation of his duty, or myſelf expoſed to the imputation of provoking an officer under thoſe reſtrictions by the hoſtility of my appearance, had I gone armed to the meeting. Was this a ſymptom of enmity? or is this wound, which ſtill diſables me, the proof on which your Lordſhip grounds your charge? Is the iſſue of this morning's meeting, at which you yourſelf condeſcended to be preſent, any mark of a reſentful, hoſtile ſpirit in me? A man indeed may pardon through fear what his heart would prompt him to reſent; but as I will not ſuppoſe [Page 199] your Lordſhip means to impute my acquieſcence in Sir George's apology to cowardice, I do not ſee how you can with any juſtice derive an act of forgiveneſs from a ſpirit of enmity.
The ſecond part of your charge is that I am ſtill hoſtile to this gentleman: My Lord, if I am to regard Sir George Revel as one whom you are diſpoſed to honor by your alliance, I ſhall not ſo far forget the reſpect due to your Lordſhip as to ſay any thing more in your preſence, than ſimply to aſſure you, that, without bearing any hoſtility to him, I have no deſire of any acquaintance with him.
The laſt and moſt ſerious part of your Lordſhip's charge againſt me, is that I have endeavoured to ſow prejudices in that boſom, which I join with you in thinking ought to be kept ſacred, and which I do from my heart both hope and believe is truly ſacred, not only from the taint you allude to, but from all others of whatever deſcription. No, my Lord, this charge I deny in the moſt peremptory manner; and whoever dared to abuſe your ear with the baſe inſinuation, is as falſe as hell itſelf can make a human creature. I have [Page 200] not that meddling nature in me, neither have I preſumption to arrogate to myſelf any influence over the Lady I am accuſed of having tampered with. Once, and only once, I have had the honor of ſeeing her ſince I received my wound, and thoſe few minutes, ſhe will bear me witneſs, were otherwiſe employed than in prejudicing her mind againſt Sir George Revel. It was becauſe I would not point my ſword againſt the man on whom her future happineſs may probably depend, that in thoſe few minutes I gave up a reſentment, which, with ſhame I confeſs it, years would not elſe have extinguiſhed. I can only ſay, I could have wiſhed you to hear this from Lady Louiſa rather than from me; but the injuſtice of your accuſation muſt be the apology for my vanity.
I muſt treſpaſs on your Lordſhip's patience with one word or two more. There is a lady preſent, whom you have thought fit to aſſociate with me in this part of your charge: I ſhould ſuppoſe, my Lord, when you honor me with ſuch an aſſociate, you cannot mean to couple guilt with purity; that would be a moſt unnatural league indeed, a guilty man [Page 201] with the moſt perfect of her ſex, an incendiary in your family with her who is the bleſſing of it. Here then, my Lord, I offer no defence, for joined with Lady G. I can commit no crime; nor does your Lordſhip, when you bring her virtues into the ſame aſſociation, mean to impute any to me; I receive it as an acquittal of the whole, as the higheſt honor you can confer upon me, and am infinitely bound to you for it.
You are very ingenious, truly, Sir, and have given me a ſufficient ſpecimen of the logic of your ſchools; but I have heard enough of it, and do not wiſh you to put your imagination to any further efforts. I ſhall write to your father, and as your uncle is my very good friend, I mean to call upon him very ſhortly. At preſent you will excuſe me, as I have rather more important buſineſs on my hands, than to liſten to your rhapſodies.
Mr. Arundel upon this roſe from his ſeat, and without a word more left the room: Oh, what an expreſſive contraſt is that countenance capable of! the look he fixt upon my Lord, what a look it was! whilſt my heart thrilled as he turned his eyes on me; ſuch pity, ſuch [Page 202] benevolence beamed forth; I never ſhall forget it: whilſt my ſenſes laſt, they will never loſe that impreſſion: I became inſenſible to Lord G.'s cruelty; in ſhort, my friend, I thoroughly deſpiſed him, and ſeeing him ſtand confounded, ſwelling with rage and ſhame, irreſolute, abaſhed, and not knowing what next to do, I was willing to retire from ſo mortifying a ſight, and humbly demanded if he had any further commands for me.
Had he reſolved upon the place of my deſtination? Stay, Madam, cried he, and at that inſtant a ſervant delivered him a letter; he opened it, and as he read it his colour changed, he ſeemed perplexed, and after a conſiderable time he ſaid, Did you know of this, Madam? was you informed of this event in Sir Francis Arundel's family? The letter is from him.
'Tis ſtrange, ſaid he, your friend ſhould not impart to you ſuch good news, ſuch a revolution in his fortune: Sir Francis writes me [Page 203] word he has loſt his only ſon in a duel; that he has adopted his nephew, who has juſt left us, and in very civil terms requeſts of me to releaſe him for a time at leaſt, as he means to bring him into Parliament upon the vacancy in his borough. This is a very unexpected event; I wiſh I had known it a little ſooner; Sir Francis has always been my very good friend, but I always underſtood he was at enmity with that branch of his family, which Mr. Arundel belongs to, and had no conception this young man was in his good graces.—Oh! my dear friend, what was then my tranſport, my exultation!—equalled by nothing, unleſs by my Lord G.'s remorſe and vexation.
I am aſtoniſhed Arundel did not mention this to me, continued my Lord, (talking to himſelf, becauſe he would not deign to addreſs himſelf to me, though it was plain he wiſhed to be anſwered.) I cannot think why he would conceal a thing of this ſort; it would have altered the caſe very widely; I ſhould have held a very different language to him; Sir Francis is the laſt man in England I would wiſh to offend; his ſupport is very neceſſary to us at this pinch; I have pledged myſelf for him [Page 204] and his other member to the cabinet: ten to one but this angry young man will turn the tables upon me; perhaps he will be a ſpeaker; by the ſample he has given me I ſhould expect it.—He was now thoroughly weary of his ſoliloquy, and therefore concluded by demanding of me if I did not think Mr. Arundel had talents to make an orator.
So ſtrange a queſtion ſhewed the incoherence of his thoughts, and I really knew not how to help him out by any anſwer I could give: I therefore ſimply obſerved, that I was no judge of Mr. Arundel's talents, but I had the higheſt opinion of his principles, and made no doubt he would do himſelf credit in any ſtation of life.
My Lord now applied himſelf to the bell, and bade the ſervant who attended, go up to Mr. Arundel's room and ſay that he would call upon him: the anſwer was, that Mr. Arundel had left the houſe, and was juſt gone out in a chair.
This was a freſh blow to my Lord, and I think I have ſeldom ſeen him ſo diſconcerted. I now made a ſecond effort to go, but he again ſtopped me, for even my company was now, [Page 205] I ſuppoſe, ſome relief to his own, at leaſt I ſerved him as a butt to vent his ill-humour upon, and divert it in ſome degree from himſelf.—And pray, Madam, ſays he, how does your Ladyſhip account for this young man's not informing me of his couſin's death, and the great fortune that ſo unexpectedly devolves upon him? for Sir Francis, let me tell you, is extremely wealthy.
Perhaps he was in hopes his integrity would have been ſufficient for that purpoſe, and did not chuſe to be indebted for his exculpation to intereſt, when he had innocence to plead, and the merit of a ſacrifice to the repoſe of your Lordſhip's family, which I have no doubt coſt him dear to make: in that light I regard his ſilence as one amongſt many inſtances of the great delicacy of his way of thinking.
ONE of thoſe unexpected events, which ſeems as if it was the fabricated incident of a novel, has juſt happened, and Mr. Arundel is of a ſudden become heir to Sir Francis Arundel's great eſtate by the melancholy cataſtrophe of a duel, in which his couſin, a very fine young man, was ſhot through the lungs, and died upon the ground.
Oh my Jane, what agonies have I eſcaped by the peaceable concluſion of this terrifying affair with Sir George Revel! To you alone [Page 207] is the ſecret revealed, for whoſe ſake thoſe agonies were endured: Had then my eyes no language in them, when Arundel, in the benevolence of his heart, made a ſacrifice of his reluctant ſpirit to the preſervation of my health and peace? Alas, alas! is it not too plain he does not think of me? had he been a lover, he could not have wanted intuition to ſpy out the ſecret workings of my ſoul; and it now wounds me to the quick, when I reflect upon this proof of his indifference. Nor is this all; proof riſes upon proof, for had his heart but felt the ſlighteſt touch of love, he never would have put his reſentment aſide to clear the paſſage for a rival; no, where love is in the caſe, jealouſy will enflame even a coward againſt his competitor, and Arundel's courage wants nothing to animate it.
Oh, Jane! how theſe reflections humble me. How falſe and fooliſh is the world's flattery! What avails it me, that I have been the butt and gazing-ſtock of all the ſtaring vacant eyes in every public place? Perhaps there is ſome catching quaint caprice about my form, ſome gariſh ſhewy ornament, that Nature has embroidered on it, which ſilly coxcombs [Page 208] are trapped with, but which men of taſte turn away from with diſguſt. I can never be brought to think I have any attractions, but ſuch as I ought to bluſh for, when I could draw to me only ſuch a wretch as Sir George Revel, and repel Arundel; 'tis plain that Virtue flies me, while Vice for its own loathſome ends purſues: I muſt renounce either myſelf or Arundel; I muſt believe I am unworthy of his pure regards, or hold him for inſenſible and blind. He thinks, no doubt, that he made a mighty ſacrifice for my ſake, when he put by reſentment; alas! how much more have I done for him, when, to preſerve his life from riſque, I ſuffered him to think that I was ſo depraved in heart, as to endure the addreſſes of Sir George? Whoſe loſs then is greateſt? his, in being robbed of his revenge, or mine, who am ruined in his good opinion? I have deceived him into my own deſtruction.
What is now to be done? You will ſay, perhaps, a ſecond conference may ſet it right:—a ſecond conference is now no longer in my reach; he is gone for ever; an angry ſeparation has taken place between my father and him; he has left the houſe never to return to [Page 209] it again: adopted by his uncle, he now lives with him, and holds no further correſpondence in this hoſtile quarter. Shall I write to him? No: if there is ſuch a thing on earth as commendable pride, if there is ſuch an obligation exiſting as duty to a parent, I am now reſponſible to thoſe demands; in thoſe fetters I am chained, and I would rather die than beg and be deſpiſed.
There was a moment when I thought he felt ſome little influence at his heart from this unworthy form: 'twas our firſt interview; my father brought him down to us at Spring-Grove; he preſented him to my Lady G.; Arundel bowed reſpectfully, and addreſſed ſome words to her I know not what, but proper no doubt they were, and becoming: he uſhered him next to me, and then methought his eye beſpoke a ſudden ſenſibility, the colour came and went upon his cheek, and he was ſilent; but his look was eloquent and my reſponſive heart held converſe in the ſame mute language with him: I was not then, as now, a ſpectacle ſo pale and ſickly; it was languor, not diſeaſe, and ſuch a languor only as diſpoſed my heart to every ſoft impreſſion: it was evening, [Page 210] a ſoft and tender gloom threw his fine form into that happy ſhade, which gives the features a pathetic tint in harmony with all the melting paſſions of the ſoul—Oh, Jane, that moment was my fate; he then exchanged a look with me, that ſunk into my heart; it was then I found there is no metaphor in what the poets tell of love, I felt that he has real arrows. My father called for muſic; Why did he ſo? It is the food of love, and mine ‘Had ſtomach for it all.’ I ſung; it was my favorite cantabile of Sacchini; it was love again; love in its moſt expreſſive language. Arundel's accompanyment inſpired me to acquit myſelf better than ever I performed before: his tones were pitched with ſo much delicacy, they were the very echo of my voice; my father was enraptured, and I confeſs I never was in ſuch humour with myſelf.—But I am grown childiſh and prattle the ſame rhapſody over again, which I have peſtered you with in a former letter; bear with my weakneſs, gentle Jane!
The next day took my Lord to town, and Arundel remained with us, but night and ſad [Page 211] reflection had intervened; reaſon had now conjured up a powerful and gloomy antagoniſt in the perſon of Deſpair, who was able to conteſt the point with Love, and repreſented to my mind a numerous train of impoſſibilities ranged in dreadful array againſt the hopeleſs paſſion, that was taking poſſeſſion of me. Alarmed at the danger of my ſituation, I no longer invited opportunities of converſing with Arundel; I even avoided his eyes as much as I was able; I ſaw with pleaſure that my mother began to engroſs him wholly, and I never was a party in their evening walks: I dreaded the faſcinating powers of muſic, and he, conceiving that the exertion was too great for my ſtrength, never prompted me to ſing. Much of the day he paſſed out of doors with my Lady in viſiting her conſervatory, and in other rural occupations, which ſhe takes much delight in; our amuſement within doors chiefly conſiſted in his reading to us, and at thoſe times I took care to employ myſelf with my needle, beſtowing no more than the attention of one ſenſe upon him: but even that ſenſe was made an avenue to Love; Love could even there plant eyes, and though
And now, my deareſt Jane, I have loſt ſight of him perhaps for ever: now then is the moment to begin a noble effort, and found a reſolution that ſhall repair the ruins of my peace: I will forget him.—Stop, let me not promiſe too much; I'll not attempt impoſſibilities; I will forget to love him: convinced as I now am, that he does not entertain a thought of me, I will call home thoſe ſlighted affections, whoſe forward tenders have been repulſed with ſcorn: I have a pride of nature, that is the very palladium of my heart; I will ſummon every paſſion to its aid, and it will be hard if ſuch an army of allies ſhall not be a match for one ſingle, unſupported propenſity, [Page 213] however ſtrong. Aſſiſt me at this criſis, my beloved friend, encourage me with your applauſe, ſecond me with your counſels, ſay every thing for me, but on your allegiance breathe not a word for Sir George.—And above all things, if you love me, and would wiſh to preſerve my ſenſes, utter not a ſyllable in prophane diſpraiſe of Arundel.
WHEN I wrote to you laſt, I was not aware that matters had gone to ſuch lengths between my father and mother, as to make a ſeparation neceſſary. Ever ſince that unhappy affair at Spring Grove, my Lord has harboured ſuch reſentment in his mind, and been ſo obſtinately reſolved to believe that ſhe has been induſtrious to prejudice me againſt Sir George Revel, that I am perſuaded nothing [Page 214] but an abſolute acquieſcence on my part could have undeceived him; I muſt have made a total ſacrifice of my happineſs to have preſerved any tolerable harmony between my parents; but even this would have been a very precarious reconciliation, for the eſſentials of love are wanting, and though my father's views might have been ſerved by the match, I have reaſon to know that my mother would have been rendered infinitely more miſerable by ſuch a fatal meaſure than by what has now befallen her, which though painful for the preſent, will ſave her from many ſufferings hereafter.
You may think perhaps that I might have quaſhed the diſpute at once, by peremptorily refuſing Sir George, and taking it entirely on myſelf; but believe me that would never have done, nor would my mother hear of the propoſal when I ſtated it, aſſuring me that it would only make my father more outrageous againſt her, with the further bad conſequence of reviving the affair between Arundel and Sir George, who was only led to make an apology by the hopes held out to him by my father.
I have however confided to her my intentions [Page 215] with reſpect to that gentleman, and the joy and comfort which it gave her alleviated the pains of parting; ſhe beſeeched me to temporize ſome time longer, as well on her own account, as to prevent an immediate rupture between the parties ſo newly reconciled. This you will allow is a delicate and difficult part for me to act, but this I have nevertheleſs promiſed to undertake.
You will be curious to know if I opened to her on the ſubject of Arundel; I did not, and, without giving you all my reaſons for being ſilent, I ſhall only ſay, that if ever I find it neceſſary to communicate with her on the ſtate of my heart towards that perſon, it will be beſt done by letter after a time, and in abſence from each other. I know the ſtrength of her mind, and the ſolidity of her underſtanding: retirement and ſolitude, ſo formidable to ſome ſpirits, will to her's be ſalutary and reſtorative. Then will be the time, if reaſon cannot expel this hopeleſs paſſion, to confide it to her—alas! to what purpoſe even then?
I have not ſeen Arundel ſince he left us; I believe he gives up his time almoſt entirely to his uncle, with whom he lives, and who is ſaid [Page 216] to be in a very declining ſtate. I am aſhamed to ſay, that my father did himſelf no honor by the manner in which he treated him at parting; and what makes it worſe, he at that time was not informed of the change in his fortune, but talked to him as to an abſolute dependant, and menaced him with ſtirring up his father's diſpleaſure againſt him. No ſooner had he left the houſe, than a letter from Sir Francis revealed the affair of the duel, and of Arundel's adoption in conſequence of it: then it ſeems my Lord was mortified in the extreme, and repented of his behavior; and of ſuch conſequence is it to his politics to preſerve a good underſtanding with Sir Francis, that I have reaſon to believe, if my mother would have undertaken to have made his peace with Arundel, ſhe might have made her own at the ſame time. This I know for certain, that my father has beſtirred himſelf very aſſiduouſly, in hopes of healing the breach, and has been with the General, and no doubt with Arundel himſelf, for that purpoſe. How he has ſucceeded in conciliating matters I cannot pretend to ſay, but he hinted to me that he had obtained a reſpectable [Page 217] ſituation for Arundel, if he choſe to accept it.
What I ſuffered upon parting from her no words of mine can deſcribe: her ſpirits, thank Heaven, were greatly ſupported in thoſe painful moments by the aſſurances I gave her with regard to Sir George Revel. She is for the preſent gone to Spring Grove, where ſhe will paſs only a few days, till preparations can be made for her removal to a greater diſtance, and a place provided for her, which ſhe has choſen for her retirement, and for which ſhe is now in negotiation.
I WILL not relate to you the manner in which Lord G. and I parted, as it refers to matters of a domeſtic nature, which I never troubled you with, and probably never ſhall. The man is altogether ſo contemptible, that it is impoſſible for me to be upon any terms with him, though he makes ſtrong ſolicitation for it. My whole time is dedicated to my uncle, whoſe love and kindneſs to me increaſe with every hour: he now talks of his ſon with a tender regret, but not with thoſe paſſionate guſts of ſorrow, which for ſome days he gave way to: in the mean time his health declines daily; he has certainly had a paralytic ſtroke, for his mouth is viſibly drawn aſide and his ſpeech affected, though we do not take any notice of it to him.
Wait till you ſee whether I deſerve your congratulations before you offer them: in [Page 219] good truth, my friend, there is ſo ſudden a revolution in my fortune, and the world breaks in upon me with ſuch a torrent, that it will be well if I can ſtem it with any tolerable ſteadineſs. If fate had ſent me back again to thoſe beloved ſcenes, on which my memory dwells with fondneſs, and where tranquillity and you inhabit, my lot would probably have been happier than it is likely to prove. How ſhall I preſerve my integrity amidſt the corruptions of the world; my underſtanding in the din of folly, or my religion in the company of the prophane? Be thou my guardian genius, and from thy untainted boſom convey the ſympathetic ſpark to mine, which may awaken conſcience before too deep a ſleep invades it.
But how is this to be done, if we are to remain in ſuch diſtant ſeparation from each other? My ſelfiſh ſpirit has been at work to deviſe the means of drawing you to me, and I pleaſe myſelf with the hope that I have at laſt ſtruck upon a project that will effect it. My uncle has a living in his gift, the incumbent of which is now dropping into his grave with age and infirmities; the family manſion ſtands [Page 220] in the pariſh, and the premiſes of the parſonage communicate with Arundel Park; it is in the fineſt part of the county of Kent, upon the banks of the Medway, in a healthful ſpot, a good houſe and a charming little garden. What do you think of it? does it ſound as if it would tempt you? if ſo, I have already ſecured the reverſion of it at your ſervice. We ſhall be near neighbours, if I live to ſucceed to the poſſeſſion of Arundel houſe, where I mean to fix my ſtaff. Your pariſh is but ſmall, ſo that your human flock will not be more than the ſhepherd of their ſouls can watch over with his own eye. It is enough for me to remind you they are Kentiſhmen, and worthy all the care you can beſtow upon them. Don't attempt to take their batts from them, and I flatter myſelf you may prevail with them to relinquiſh the brandy bottle. Were it not for this foreign enemy to their health and morals (the fatal conſequence of illicit trade), what a people would they be! A race diſtinguiſhable above all their fellow-ſubjects for the beauty of their perſons, the dignity of their ſentiments, the courage of their hearts and the elegance of their manners.
[Page 221] I am only afraid you will grow too rich upon your income, for it is beyond your ſimplicity: but why do I fear this, when charity is at hand to take off all your ſuperfluities? and who can tell, Charles, but ſome Naiad of the Medway may tempt you to the raſh unphiloſophical act of matrimony? If that takes place, prepare yourſelf for a family that ſhall vie with the Patriarchs, for they have an hereditary gift of breeding and fulfil the primaeval bleſſing in its utmoſt extent.
This ſhall be a ſeparate letter unmixt with baſer matter, for this is a ſubject, which involves a great ſhare of the happineſs, which I have now to expect in life, and I ſhall anxiouſly wait your anſwer.
I Think I told you in the early part of our correſpondence that I was not fond of writing about family matters, and telling long unintereſting ſtories of perſons and things, which you are not concerned with and which I have no right over: I am not however ſcrupulous to inform you that Lady G. has been compelled to a ſeparation by the ill-treatment of her Lord, who is preſſing on a match with Sir George Revel and Lady Louiſa, and is pleaſed without any grounds to conclude that his wiſhes have been traverſed by her Ladyſhip, with whom he has alſo done me the unmerited honor to ſuppoſe that I have been in league for the ſame purpoſe.
This ridiculous man, who has not a trace in his mind that reſembles juſtice, unleſs obſtinacy be one, had the abſurdity to charge me with this to my face and in the preſence alſo [Page 223] of his Lady. My part of the charge was eaſily ſettled, for I was ſoon out of his power, but it was not ſo with Lady G.; ſhe has been obliged to take refuge from his tyranny by retiring from her family, which ſhe actually put into effect the ſame evening, and is now ſeeking that repoſe in ſolitude, which in his ſociety it was not poſſible for her to enjoy.
For that excellent Lady my heart will ever retain the warmeſt gratitude, and it gives me unſpeakable pain to be no longer in a capacity of paying her thoſe attentions, from which ſhe uſed to derive no ſmall degree of conſolation. I have taken every means in my power ſince her departure of making known to her how deeply I am impreſſed with the remembrance of her kindneſs and condeſcenſion, and how ardently I ſhall ſeize every opportunity of manifeſting the truth of my profeſſions; but I have not thought it adviſeable in the preſent ſtate of affairs to write to her, though I am vain enough to think it may be what ſhe wiſhes. At the preſent moment her ſituation is extremely critical, and I am under great anxiety on her account; if her difficulties encreaſe and this injurious man continues to perſecute [Page 224] her with freſh inſults, I ſhall break through the reſerve I have for the preſent impoſed upon myſelf, and attempt whatever honor, gratitude and friendſhip can ſuggeſt for her ſervice.
Lady Louiſa's match with Sir George Revel is I ſuppoſe in a train to take place, and probably only waits the re-eſtabliſhment of her health: report is circulating it as a thing decided, but in that I do not place abſolute faith. If it muſt be ſo, may I be deceived in the prejudice I have taken up againſt the man of her choice! I know not how to think there can be any generous ſentiments in that heart, which ſeems engroſſed with pride and arrogance; at the ſame time I am loth to ſuppoſe her capable of overlooking character in the choice of a huſband, and of following either the mere impulſe of the eye, or the meaner motives, which the greatneſs of his fortune may appear to ſuggeſt; this I am ſure can never operate upon a nature ſo liberal and ſo noble as her's, and accordingly I muſt believe ſhe diſcerns ſome qualities in her lover, which have not fallen under my obſervation; and to own the truth this may well be, as I have only [Page 225] contemplated him in the unfavorable moments of inſolence and anger.
The day before I quitted the family I had a converſation with Lady Louiſa, which was very intereſting, and if I had been diſpoſed to put my own meaning upon certain paſſages and expreſſions, which were equivocal enough to encourage ſuch an idle interpretation, I might have made a fine fool of myſelf truly. Yet if all that anxiety to prevent our duel was the ſole reſult of her fears for the ſafety of Sir George, any man who was a witneſs to what ſhe ſuffered might have ſafely ſworn that the firſt moment of his releaſe would have been the firſt of his happineſs alſo, inſtead of which many days have paſſed and I have no reaſon to believe he is yet in poſſeſſion of her abſolute conſent.
Surely, Charles, it is fair arguing to conclude, that if he was indeed the object of her love, I, who in that interview appeared before her as his antagoniſt, ought to have been the object of her averſion: yet this did not ſeem to be the caſe; it is true ſhe had a point to carry, and that might lead her to uſe ſoothing words in converſing with me; but had there [Page 226] been that abhorrence in her heart, it is leſs poſſible with her than with any body I ever met with to diſguiſe her looks and counterfeit a complacency ſhe does not feel. On the contrary, I beheld nothing but the ſweeteſt countenance mixed with the moſt affecting ſadneſs, at all times there was a moſt expreſſive tenderneſs in her eyes, and once ſhe gave a looſe to her tears covering her beautiful face, to conceal from me the diſorder ſhe was in.
Theſe words in particular made an impreſſion upon me at the time ſhe uttered them, and I have frequently revolved them in my thoughts ſince as ſomething too myſterious for me even to gueſs at—Perhaps, ſaid ſhe, you have miſtaken me in ſome particulars, but time will clear up all things; to time I muſt refer you, and by that I ſhall be juſtified in your opinion.
If time, that is to be the interpreter of this myſtery, ſhould ſhew me that Sir George is all this while following a falſe clue through the labyrinth of diſappointment—Oh Charles!—but I will not indulge the idea—ſhe muſt be his, and I will detach my thoughts from her, and fly the ſight of her when ſacrificed to that [Page 227] wretch, as I would avoid the contemplation of a noble mind, when deprived of its reaſon.
Theſe ladies, mother and daughter, might almoſt paſs for ſiſters; there is a ſtriking ſimilitude in their features, and an expreſſion of the ſame paſſions and affections in their eyes, only at different periods of life and in different degrees of ſenſibility. In the mother it is viſible that ſorrow has conſpired with time to ſoften down thoſe fires, which nobody, who looks upon the daughter, can behold unmoved: the ſoul of Lady G. is of that penſive and feeling caſt, which leans to retirement and thoſe tranquil ſcenes of life, to which humble unaſſuming virtue delights to reſort from the tumult of the world. The country is her paſſion, and in a private condition ſhe might have taſted that ſerenity, which her elevated rank only helps to deprive her of. Fortune ſeemed to have deſtined her to thoſe views, for which nature had fitted her diſpoſition, but an uncommon ſhare of beauty and the extreme elegance of her figure in a luckleſs hour caught the eyes of Lord G. and the ambition of her parents devoted her to his arms. Oh Charles, how you would be charmed with her ſociety! [Page 228] How curiouſly hath nature mixed up the elements in her, that the contagious ſphere, in which ſhe has moved, could never fix a ſpot, which even the microſcopic eye of envy could ſpy out and ſay—Here is a blemiſh.
Lord G. who treated me with very little delicacy, when he looked upon me as a dependant, now ſees me with different eyes, and an event, which does not raiſe me one atom in my own eſteem, adds cubits to my ſtature in his way of meaſuring mankind. In a time like this, when parties are ſo nearly balanced, the proprietor of a borough may expect a very low bow from a tottering miniſter; and his Lordſhip, who probably feels himſelf in that predicament, ſeems to think a little management may be neceſſary to bring me back to my allegiance, and make me ſtill the creature of his purpoſes.
With this wiſe end in view he called upon my uncle, and began to round him with many fine ſpeeches, feeling his way cautiouſly to diſcover how much I had imparted to him of what paſſed between us upon our laſt converſation. He affected to be ſhocked, when the General told him I conſidered myſelf as diſmiſſed [Page 229] in the moſt peremptory manner, and deſired to apologize to me in perſon for any miſunderſtanding that had taken place, proteſting that his intentions had ever been moſt friendly towards me; he hoped we ſhould always be upon good terms, and as he had been honored with my uncle's ſupport, flattered himſelf he might depend upon mine.
This produced an interview between his Lordſhip and me; he addreſſed me in a fine ſpeech crammed with many courtly flouriſhes, in which there was a mighty deal of condeſcenſion, abundance of flattery, ſome apology, many profeſſions and no truth: it was pride that licked the duſt.
I anſwered him in as civil terms as I could uſe, without committing myſelf in ſuch a manner, as might lead him to believe I was impoſed upon by his profeſſions: I took care to remind him for my future juſtification, that I had, happily for myſelf, never been in thoſe confidential habits with his Lordſhip, as to tie [Page 230] me down from any meaſures or opinions I might think fit to adopt hereafter; and I begged leave to aſſure him, that if I had not felt myſelf my own maſter in thoſe reſpects, I would never have conſented to come into Parliament.
He now tried a new experiment, by propoſing to me a ſituation in the corps diplomatique, where he could make an opening for me at Ratiſbon, which he warmly recommended as a firſt ſtep in the line, and for which he was pleaſed to aſſure me that I was peculiarly well qualified both by nature and acquirements.
To this I ſhortly anſwered, that as I had his Lordſhip's own authority to refer to for expecting no favors from him, ſo I had formed my own reſolution to receive none: he muſt therefore excuſe me if I declined any offers he could make me.
By a letter, which I have been honored with from the Earl of G. I am informed of the haughty and diſdainful manner in which you have quitted his family; and when he condeſcended to court your acceptance of a ſituation, that his intereſt had provided for you, and to which your proudeſt ambition would not have ventured to aſpire awhile ago, you rejected his favors with contempt.
Your father, JOSEPH ARUNDEL.
IF you will credit the proteſtations of a ſon, who never yet approached his father with a falſehood, you will believe me when I aſſure you that I am as innocent of the charge contained in your laſt letter, as I am of the duel, which you imputed to me in your preceding one.
I certainly did decline Lord G.'s offer, and though it was of a ſort entirely incompatible with my preſent views, yet I am free to own, that if it had been in all other reſpects deſireable, yet as coming from his Lordſhip I could in no caſe have accepted it.
I am, &c.
There is a little village on the coaſt of Kent, which I have fixt upon for my retreat: it has been a favorite ſpot with me from my childhood, being about three miles from my father's houſe where I was born: it was part of his eſtate, but being entailed upon the male heir, now belongs to my firſt couſin, who has very readily accommodated me with the hire of it.
The bitterneſs of parting from my Louiſa was greatly ſoftened by the comforting expreſſions, with which ſhe cheared my ſinking ſpirits in thoſe painful moments:—Oh my beloved mother! ſaid the generous girl, the cruel treatment you unjuſtly ſuffer on my account cuts [Page 234] me to the ſoul; ſubmit to it however with patience for a time, reſign yourſelf to the will of God, and he will ſupport you; perhaps it is a diſpenſation that will prove a bleſſing to you in the end, and even now you ſhould forbear to lament it, as it withdraws you from a ſcene replete with ſorrows, and from an oppreſſion you can no longer endure. The virtues of your heart and the ſtrength of your underſtanding will ſupply you with reſources in your ſolitude, and it ſhall be my grateful taſk to relieve it by a continual intercourſe of letters, in which I will give you a faithful journal of my time. I truſt my father's animoſity will not forbid my continuing to you theſe proofs of duty and affection, without which our ſeparation would be intolerable to me.
I leave you, my dear child, I replied, with a bleeding heart, comforted however by theſe dutiful expreſſions, and penetrated by the generous and tender proofs of your affection: I leave you in a painful, perilous moment, in the very criſis of your fate; but I am driven from my duty, I do not deſert it. If you marry Sir George Revel becauſe your heart is with him and your judgment approves of his [Page 235] character, I hope God will bleſs you in your choice, and that I ſhall find myſelf in an error; but if you take him upon any other motives, if your father's commands over-rule you, if the ſplendor of fortune allures you, and the cry of the world provokes your vanity to be the richeſt bride in England, I tremble for the conſequences; I proteſt againſt the deed.
To this ſhe replied—How I ſhall regret you words cannot deſcribe; but if ever it is my lot to marry, it ſhall be the firſt object of my liberty to fly to your arms; and be aſſured I will never unite myſelf to any man, whom you could not love, and who would not love you. This reaſon alone would have been deciſive againſt Sir George Revel, had he been in all other reſpects as much to be approved of, as I now think he is juſtly to be abhorred.
Never, ſhe replied; nor force, nor perſuaſion ſhall prevail with me: I will die before I will do it. This has been my fixt determination from the firſt, but I would not impart it to my dear mother, whilſt ſhe was aſſerting in [Page 236] her defence to my father, that ſhe had not communicated with me on the ſubject.
Generous creature! ſaid I, then I am comforted indeed; this ſweetens the bittereſt moment of my life; now I can part from my child with ſome fortitude: and ſo ſaying, I enfolded her in my arms and ſhed a ſhower of grateful tears upon her neck.
Thus was I conſoled by this amiable creature; and amidſt the agonies I feel in ſeparation from her, I ſupport myſelf by reflecting, that a young woman of her uncommon attractions, with great fortune and high rank to ſet them off, cannot long remain ſingle, and then my loſt happineſs will be recovered: in the mean time, as my interference in the choice of a huſband for her would only draw reſentment upon me, and probably oppoſition to her wiſhes from my unfriendly Lord, it may be well for me to be abſent at this criſis.
And now, my dear animated friend, do not let this ſecret of Louiſa's determination againſt Sir George Revel eſcape from your lips; do not ſo much as endanger it by a hint; for it is neceſſary to temporize a little longer.
Will you viſit me in my hermitage? I am [Page 237] ſure you will. Your friendſhip is not of that holiday ſort, which can only ſhew itſelf in the ſunſhine of fortune; you will not fly from the houſe of mourning, but will chear your widowed friend in her affliction.
But remember, my good ſoul, there is one ſubject that cannot chear me any longer: let the name of Arundel be proſcribed in our correſpondence henceforward! Sport not with the feelings of your friend, nor let your roving imagination lead me any more over rocks and precipices, like a deceitful meteor in the night. I fly to conquer; I ſink into ſolitude that I may teach myſelf to forget.
Since he left our houſe I have never once ſet eyes upon him, nor hath he written one farewell line to me. It is well! he refines upon propriety; he points me out the road which I muſt take; he is at once my preceptor and my model.
I have the happineſs to hear he is recovered of his wound: the old General, by the way, has had a paralytic ſtroke, and is thought to be near his end; Arundel will then be maſter of a noble fortune; he takes his ſeat in Parliament as ſoon as the writ can be made out, and I [Page 238] cannot doubt but he will do himſelf much honor in the ſenate; for he has genius, knowledge and elocution, with every exterior grace of perſon—how captivating! A voice ſo exquiſitely tuned to perſuaſion, that the ear, which liſtens to its harmony, of force ſurrenders up the ſoul of every one that hears it: his eyes characterize each paſſion, as it ſhifts within him; they beam with benevolence, they melt with love, they flaſh with anger: they penetrate the heart; who can reſiſt them?
I will riſque a prediction that his artillery will be pointed at my Lord perſonally, at his party collectively; and though I am not curious after politics, I cannot avoid hearing from all ſides that our cabinet totters. Be it ſo! I believe the beſt wiſh I can beſtow upon my deſpot is that of a ſpeedy diſſolution to his power. Small minds are not made for great ſtations; they are intoxicated by authority; that virtuous ambition, which ſhould inſpire them to advance the glory of their country, beats not in their boſoms; the paſſion they feel is ſpurious and illegitimate: it has the name of ambition perhaps, but it inherits not its dignity nor property. The ſervant of the [Page 239] public ſhould have the diligence, fidelity and punctuality of a ſervant in humble degree; a perſon, deſtined by his office to refuſe multitudes where he gratifies one, ſhould above all things ſtudy the art of denying with a good grace: this demands an attribute which my unhappy Lord is wholly deſtitute of, ſuavity of manners: I even queſtion if he is often lucky enough to gain a friend where he beſtows a favor. I ſuſpect that he will fall unpitied and deſerted. When that hour comes, reflection may come with it, and if he then brings his paſt conduct under ſtrict review, the future may very probably fare the better for it.—Heaven grant it may!
I have ſometimes turned my thoughts towards a companion in my retirement, ſome quiet gentle ſoul, who will ſympathize with my feelings, read, work, walk with me by turns, and wile away the languid hours in harmleſs converſation. But alas! it is in vain to look for ſuch a being: a gentlewoman ſhe muſt be, and I have ſuch pity for decayed gentlewomen in the character of dependants, that I ſhould be a ſufferer by her ſociety, and, inſtead of finding comfort from her, be obliged [Page 240] to find it for her. I therefore give up that idea altogether, and determine to take with me only one young woman, who is at preſent an underling in my family, and ſeems a ſenſible good-humoured girl: ſhe ſhall be my lady of the bedchamber, for my own Madam is too fine for the ſervice, and has beſides an attachment, which I cannot propoſe to remove her from. A houſe-maid and a cook I ſhall hire in the country, as better for my humble purpoſes than thoſe of a town education; one man-ſervant I ſhall alſo take of rural ſtock, and a gardener: this will be my eſtabliſhment; my pin-money will be my revenue; and ſo—‘Farewell to all my greatneſs!’
You are ſcarce entered upon life's drama, when mark how full of incidents it is become! Whilſt you are ſtepping on the ſtage, the ſupreme director of its movements draws off the ſcene before you, and you find yourſelf in a new ſituation, in a new character.
Prepare yourſelf therefore for an active part, that will try all your powers; but above all things, my dear Arundel, let me recommend to you to conſult the ſpirit and ſenſe of your author; enter into his deſigns, be the faithful repreſentative of his mind, and don't lay out for the falſe and flattering plaudits of the theatre, by outſtepping nature and violating the chaſte ſimplicity of truth.
[Page 242] With all due ſubmiſſion to the mock majeſty of Honor, who is the great manager that now ſeems to pitch the tone for all our young performers, I cannot ſay that the diſciples of his training are to my taſte; I think it is a falſe ſtile of acting, and, though his ſchool is in ſuch high vogue, it is not there I would wiſh a friend of mine to form and faſhion himſelf.
I am miſtaken if there is not a much better maſter and guide, one whoſe inſtructions point to the heart, who can draw out the whole ſoul of the actor into the part he performs, and ſecure him an applauſe, when the drama cloſes and the curtain drops, from that tribunal in whoſe judgment there is no error. Let the current of prejudice run as it will in favor of Honor, may my friend ever be found in that happy minority, which adheres to the precepts of Religion!
No more then of Sir George Revel! I applaud your forbearance; may he profit by it, and be convinced by your example that true courage does not conſiſt in ferocity! He probably is indebted for his life to your magnanimity; and ſo farewell to all my fears! ‘Shall I be frighted when a madman ſtares?’ [Page 243] With your duel ends my diſpute; a fatal inſtance is too near at hand to eſcape your notice, and I would not wiſh to enforce my argument by referring to it.
Will nobody convince that Lord G. that a proud man is the moſt contemptible being in nature? Is it not hard this obvious truth is known to all the world but thoſe whom it applies to? I now perceive he is a very blundering politician; the man is not fit for the trade he follows: Who would pretend to ſet up in his buſineſs without brains? and where muſt they have been, when he overlooked your talents, and did not ſee the weapons of an orator till he felt them in his vitals? Is this fellow qualified to be the ſteerſman of the ſtate, who has not the wit to take in his ſails till the hurricane ſurprizes him? Away with ſuch a ſleepy Palinurus! I am turned over once more to my old ſide, and feel myſelf more comfortable in my oppoſition quarters.
We read your maiden ſpeech in our coffee-houſe club, and took every word for granted as the papers gave it, though perhaps you would tell us it is no more like your ſpeech than I to Hercules. I want no better proof of [Page 244] his Lordſhip's unhandſome dealings with you, than this evidence of your unmerciful dealings with him; and I am ſure if you had ever been let into his heart as a friend, nothing would have tempted you to lay it open as a foe. Ridiculous, inconſiderate man! nobody would have required of him as a politician to act from the heart, but every one will condemn him for want of common ſkill and contrivance: it is plain he has not ſtudied even the firſt principles of his profeſſion; I ſhall not wonder if he is hooted out of the cabinet: What a miſerable figure will he make at that work, when it is notorious to all the world that his right hand hath forgot its cunning!
But he is alſo at enmity with his moſt excellent lady—And who can wonder at this? when was folly not at war with underſtanding? when was madneſs reconciled to reaſon? He does right; he follows his proper courſe downwards, according to the true back-ſlidings of nature? Who ſhall ſtop him? he is fairly launched from the ſlip, and preſſes headlong to the gulph that ſhall receive him.
Lend me your ear, Arundel, and I will whiſper to you a ſecret, which is not fit for [Page 245] any creature but yourſelf to liſten to—There is a certain lady who is not inſenſible to you. How I come to diſcover this is no matter; you may be a cautious writer, but I am an inquiſitive reader. Who this lady is, what her deſcription, age and perſon, I ſhall not ſay; whether walking and converſing with you in the country, or attending upon you during your confinement in town; whether inſtructing you as a monitreſs, or receiving inſtruction from you as a diſciple, whilſt you trace out the conſtellations in the heavens to her uplifted eyes by night; in whatever act, attitude or employment I contemplate this your amiable companion, I recognize a character which I cannot be miſtaken in. Though ſorrow may conſpire with time to ſoften down thoſe fires, that are ſo bright in younger eyes, yet they are fires, which by their gentleneſs only lure to a nearer approach, and that ſorrow, which ſoftens the beholder alſo into pity, and raiſes up no inconſiderable advocate in the heart.
But what has a monk to do, you will ſay, with ſpeculations of this ſort? Certainly they are no theſis for the ſchools; yet love has its [Page 246] pupils even within the walls of a college, and nature can inſtruct without the help of a lecturer. However, as I am neither pupil nor profeſſor, I ſhall totally drop a ſubject I have no right to ſpeak upon.
Your recovery from a dangerous wound has been followed by a ſudden change of fortune, which in the language of the world will be called a very ſingular inſtance of good fortune: let me therefore take the world's opinion upon truſt, and join your friends in felicitating you upon your late adoption. Why ſhould I not? the eſtate, that will now devolve upon you, is the eſtate of your family; it has ever been in the liſt of contingencies, and you are not taken by ſurprize, as many are, upon whom chance throws her favors, and without preparation elevates the proſtrate ſon of earth into the upſtart man of conſequence. I give it welcome, therefore, as an event which affords your talents a diſplay, and enlarges the ſphere of your activity. I flatter myſelf I ſhall be able to appeal to one inſtance of a great fortune rationally enjoyed; you will neither languidly ſubmit to be the prey of ſervants, or the dupe of ſharpers; you have ever [Page 247] lived in habits of temperance, and who that has once experienced the bleſſings of pure ſimplicity will proſtitute his health, underſtanding and conſcience, to a life of voluptuouſneſs? You are not, thank Heaven, in danger of being ſeized by the ſordid rage of gaming, for you cannot wiſh ſo to employ a ſuperfluity, which your taſte can diſpoſe of ſo much more elegantly, and your ſpirit beſtow ſo beneficently.
That you may reap the firſt-fruits of that generous diſpoſition with all poſſible ſatisfaction to your feelings, I accept with thankfulneſs the promiſe of your benefice in Kent, and aſſure you that it opens to me every proſpect of happineſs your friendly heart can wiſh it to be accompanied with.
Every circumſtance about it, houſe, garden, demeſne, the country, river, pariſh, the people themſelves, all conſpire to render it the moſt delectable ſituation to me in life; and more than all, its neighbourhood to Arundel-houſe ſtamps a double value on the gift.
I ſhall be ordained deacon next Sunday; and I have reaſon to believe my Lord of Ely [Page 248] will not refuſe me prieſt's orders very ſhortly after. I certainly enter upon this office in humble hope and with a ſerious mind; I have well reflected upon the nature of our church eſtabliſhment, and am reſolute to abide by all its forms, ordinances and articles, as therein laid down, without deviation; for I hope I am incapable of prevaricating with an oath, and entering upon theſe ſolemn engagements with an unſteady, wavering allegiance; no, Arundel, I will imitate the ſectaries in nothing but their diligence and induſtry; neither will I enter the pale of peace and charity with a heart that can be hardened by a ſpirit of intolerance and bigotry.
To be a good prieſt in a country pariſh, ſuch as you deſcribe, is the height of my wiſhes, and if they ſucceed, nothing ſhall tempt me out of my ſtation; where I fix, there I will fall; your Kentiſhmen ſhall have me, ſuch as I am, once and for ever; for them I will live, and amongſt them I will die: I am no ſeeker after change or preferment; nor, when I am the ſervant of God, will I ſubmit to be the ſlave of ambition.
[Page 249] It appears to me, that ſome clergymen ſeem to think their whole duties are compriſed in the ſervices of the ſeventh day; but when ſo many inſtances happily occur to ſhew the great moral advantages which may be derived to a pariſh from the careful ſuperintendance of a miniſter who reſides conſtantly amongſt them, it is a ſtrong call upon a man's conſcience to ſtand by his truſt, and conſider every day in the week no leſs a day of duty than the ſeventh. As to what concerns the taſk of preaching only, my idea is, that a congregation is firſt to be inſtructed in the religion they profeſs, and that morality will ſpring from religion, as the fruit from the tree. I have therefore no partiality for thoſe ſlight eſſays, ſo much in vogue, which ſeem compoſed for faſhionable freethinkers, and one would almoſt ſuppoſe, if charity did not forbid the imputation, that they were even compoſed by freethinkers. This kind of flimſy doctrine (like fair-weather ſailing, that may be performed with any ordinary tackle) is very convenient for indolent divines, as it requires little labour, and no depth of ſtudy; preachers, who court popularity from polite congregations, [Page 250] affect to ſuit their language to their company, and, avoiding all harſh truths, tell them rather what they like, than what they ought, to hear; the crimes, that cry out for correction, are left untouched; and the laſh only applied where nobody preſent can be hit by it.
For my part, though I would with great care avoid puzzling the underſtandings of my rural flock; yet I conceive it is very feaſible, in plain and eaſy language, and by natural deductions, to proceed ſyſtematically in a chain of diſcourſes through all the neceſſary proofs of revealed religion. If this were done in a conciſe, intelligible manner, and ſo methodized as the memory might retain it, I ſhould expect it would enable an attentive congregation, even in a country pariſh, to give a reaſon for the faith that is in them, and with this view it might be proper to repeat it as occaſion ſeemed to require. Upon this ſyſtem, once eſtabliſhed in the mind, all the moral duties of Chriſtianity might be grounded, not in a vague and deſultory manner, but in the chain and order of their dependancies one upon another; for I take it as a point admitted, [Page 251] that teachers of all ſorts muſt proceed by method, if they mean to fix in their hearers memories what they eſſay to teach: liſten to the rambling arguments of a man, who has no mathematical principles in his head, and though he talks to you in the diction of Tully, they will be words without ideas, a mere cluſter of unmeaning ſentences. It is my purpoſe, therefore, if it ever is my lot to have a ſteady congregation under my care, ſo to connect my ſermons, as may lead my hearers ſtep by ſtep through a courſe of Chrictian doctrine, as if I was ſolving a propoſition in geometry; and I will venture to pronounce, that whoever analyzes the whole ſeries and ſyſtem of Revelation in this manner, will find his faith eſtabliſhed by the proceſs as clear and incontrovertible as any mathematical truth founded upon demonſtration.
I AM ſo haunted by Sir George Revel, and ſuffer his viſits with ſo ill a grace, that I can wear the maſk no longer, and muſt poſitively give him a flat refuſal the very next time he baits me with his odious addreſſes.
My father begins to find he has gained nothing upon me by my mother's abſence, and grows very impatient; he is aſtoniſhed what I can diſcover in Sir George to object to, and then runs over a number of particulars, every one of which he thinks the beſt recommendation a man can have, and I think the ſum total would not weigh againſt one grain of merit. Oh, Arundel, if nature had not given me a heart to deſpiſe theſe vanities, you would have taught me!
Whilſt my father is for ever tutoring and tormenting me in private, my diſappointed lover runs bellowing up and down, abuſing me, to all the world, as the verieſt coquette and [Page 253] jilt in nature, and I have too good reaſon to believe that his animoſity againſt my exiled mother, provokes him to ſay very baſe and ſcandalous things againſt her. I live in daily terror leſt any of theſe reports ſhould come round to Arundel's ears, whoſe ſpirit would not bear a word to be ſaid againſt Lady G.
That gentleman has made his debût in Parliament by taking a decided part in Oppoſition. I ſhould make a lame ſtory of it, if I were to attempt at giving you particulars, but I can aſſure you the whole town rings with his applauſes; and (what is worſt of all) our miniſters loſt their queſtion, as they call it, ſo that I believe no queſtion now remains but they will loſe their places. Every one of the junto are outrageous againſt my poor father for letting ſuch a genius as Arundel ſlip through his hands; and this, with the affair of my mother, has opened all mouths violently againſt him, though I am perſuaded he feels his error poignantly enough, without any of theſe reproaches to aggravate his regret.
The eloquence, the youth, the perſon of Arundel, who was known to ſcarce a member in the houſe, had an aſtoniſhing effect: [Page 254] juvenile orators have oftentimes come out with credit in a ſet ſpeech, rehearſed as it were by heart; but this new phaenomenon in Parliament was two hours in his reply to one of the beſt ſpeakers on the ſide of adminiſtration, by which he eſtabliſhed his reputation beyond all example.
As his affair with Sir George Revel has been greatly talked of, it intereſted the attention of the houſe in an extraordinary degree, when that gentleman, who with all his members is come over to the miniſter's ſide, roſe as ſoon as Arundel had ſate down, and undertook to reply to him; he began with ſome vehemence to retort upon him for the unhandſome part he was taking, appealing to the candor of the houſe to judge if it was becoming for a man ſo new in his ſeat, and one who had been ſo lately initiated, as an humble dependant on a noble lord high in office, into the privacy of his family, to avail himſelf of the intelligence he had gleaned (imperfectly as it appeared, but certainly not very honorably) in his ſervice, for the purpoſe of employing it againſt the very patron, who had admitted him into his confidence? That noble lord, he could [Page 255] ſay from his own knowledge, was intitled to a better return, as he had ſhewn himſelf no leſs ready to beſtow favors than to forgive offences, and though his bounty had not been accepted, he humbly conceived it ought not to have been forgotten.
The gentleman, from whoſe account I took down theſe particulars for your information, ſaid the houſe ſeemed to feel the indelicacy of Sir George Revel's appeal, conſidering what had lately paſſed, and were very much diſpoſed to interfere, and call him to order; but as ſoon as Arundel took up his reply, in which he conducted himſelf with great coolneſs and diſcretion, the ſilence and attention were almoſt without precedent.
In juſtifying himſelf from the charge of ingratitude and double-dealing, he went through a manly, yet modeſt, detail of his own proceedings during his connection with my father, and of the reaſons which diſſolved it: theſe indeed he touched with great delicacy, yet opened as much as ſufficed very fully for his own vindication: when he came to ſpeak of the melancholy event, which had wrought ſo [Page 256] great a change in his fortune and condition, all eyes were turned upon the venerable old General, who, though in the laſt ſtage of infirmity, and in deep mourning for an only ſon, had ſeated himſelf by his ſide; a ſolemn murmur ran through the houſe; every nerve ſeemed to vibrate with the pathos of the ſcene; the feeble veteran put his handkerchief to his eyes; the criſis was too affecting; Arundel's voice trembled, ſtopt, he pauſed awhile, and then reſuming his diſcourſe with greater energy, he broke forth into ſo fine a flow of eloquence, awakened all the feelings of his hearers, and ſtruck the ſtrings of pity with ſo maſterly a hand, that decency could ſcarce reſtrain the houſe from exclamations of applauſe. 'Twas then he turned his defence into attack, and made ſo fierce a ſally into his opponent's quarters, that he raiſed a general indignation againſt the very perſon, whom he had been accuſed of being ungrateful to; he aſſerted, to the conviction of all, that ſo far from betraying a benefactor, he had ſuffered under an oppreſſor—that he could not abuſe a confidence he had never enjoyed—and that the [Page 257] offer he had refuſed was the reſult of fear, not favor, and would have been diſgraceful to accept. But what was remarked particularly to his credit was, that not a word of perſonality towards Sir George Revel eſcaped from his lips; not a look that marked contempt, not a ſyllable that breathed defiance.
Thus you have the whole fairly tranſcribed from a very correct Reporter, of what paſſed on that memorable debate, which was cloſed with the ſpeech above related and finiſhed by a diviſion, in which the ruling powers were overthrown; a defeat, which I know enough of your politics, my dear Jane, to believe you will not be very ſorry for.
No penitent ever returned from abſolution ſo lightened in conſcience as I am by what I have done: I felt myſelf acting a part of duplicity, which I muſt take the liberty to ſay was a character entirely out of my caſt, and of courſe very awkwardly performed.
A fine man of Sir George's ſort, who looks upon the whole female world as drawn out in review for him in his imperial humour to throw his handkerchief to the choſen fair, brooks the inſult of a repulſe very ill. If he had not loved himſelf infinitely more than he did me, his diſappointment would have been intolerable; but as my opinion cannot lower him in his own, he ſeemed rather to pity my bad taſte than deplore his own hard fate.
On the evening of the day I laſt wrote to you I went to the Opera, and Sir George Revel, [Page 259] by privilege of cuſtom, came into my box; he was more than commonly troubleſome, and as my attention was particularly engroſſed by a certain perſon in the pit, I was not in the beſt humour in the world: to confeſs the truth to you, that certain perſon was Arundel, who was ſitting by old Lady Treville, and as it ſeemed in earneſt converſation with her.
I perceive, ſaid he, your Ladyſhip has found out an acquaintance; you are looking at our new orator; but I ſhould ſuppoſe you can find no great pleaſure in contemplating ingratitude, though at a diſtance.
The vanity of that fellow is inſufferable; he comes here on purpoſe to be ſtared at: but though curioſity ſhould draw every eye upon an upſtart novelty, your's at leaſt methinks ſhould be averted from the foe-profeſſed and ſlanderer of your father.
In my own caſe then give me leave to tell you, Lady Louiſa, that if I have been hitherto in a deception as to the real language of your eyes, it is becauſe you have hitherto been pleaſed to conceal them under a maſk; the inſtant that you condeſcend to take it off, and let them follow where the impulſe of your heart directs them, I no longer think the honor of being your admirer can compenſate for the diſgrace of being rival to your mother's footman.
[Page 261] So ſaying he flounced out of the box, and left me in a ſtate of mind, in which it was hard to decide whether joy or indignation moſt preponderated. My agitation however was ſo great between both, that I found myſelf unable to ſit out the Opera, and, nobody being with me but Mrs. Courtenhall, I apologized to her for the diſorder I was in and begged to go home.
An embarraſſment now enſued about getting up our carriage, as we had no gentleman to apply to; but depending upon what chance might throw in our way, we went down to the lobby to give orders for our ſervants to be called. Fortune, (whether in malice or good-will I cannot pretend to ſay) ſo ordered it, that we ſhould there encounter Mr. Arundel alone and going out of the houſe. My diſtreſs was viſible, and his embarraſſment no leſs ſo; he bowed with all poſſible reſpect; advanced, retired, then ſtopt as if uncertain what to do. His natural good manners at laſt decided in our favor, and he addreſſed himſelf to me to know if I wanted any aſſiſtance—would I command him to order up my carriage? I accepted his ſervice and he flew to fulfil it: a [Page 262] very ſhort time brought him back to tell me the coach was ready, and my ſervants in waiting.
I will not ſwear to you, my ſweet Jane, that whilſt he ſpoke theſe words he actually did preſs my hand, but I thought he did, I felt as if he did; the flutter I had been in ſeized me worſe than ever; I tottered, loſt my ſight and ſcarce had power to proceed. He certainly did not overlook my diſorder, for he ſupported me with the greateſt care, and ſtopping to give me time for recovery, with a look expreſſive of the tendereſt reſpect, whiſpered to me—Alas! you are ill; if enemies feel what I feel, how can your friends ſurvive it?—As you have never heard his voice, Jane, you cannot judge of its effect; I will not attempt at the deſcription of it: my heart was full; it was [Page 263] ſwelling with indignation againſt the wretch who had ſo late inſulted my ears with his abuſe, it was ſtruggling to ſupply ſome words that might convince him I did not ſeriouſly ſuppoſe he was my enemy; but in the ſtruggle words were loſt, tears ſupplied their place, and I had only ſtrength to ſay—For Heaven's ſake take me to my coach; I ſhall expoſe myſelf.
Lady Treville has been with me; ſhe is a dear, old, generous, conſiderate creature, a friend to love, and, like Hope, ‘A nurſe of young deſire.’ I doat upon her to diſtraction, for I am ſure ſhe came upon an errand from Arundel this morning, to enquire after my health: ſhe had heard I went home ill from the Opera laſt night.
This good lady, as you well know, has a fine houſe, a great fortune, high birth and much vivacity; ſhe keeps a circle, which is greatly frequented by the fine young men about town, particularly by the leaders of that party, which is termed the Oppoſition. Arundel is her prime favorite, and I underſtand is [Page 265] at her houſe moſt evenings: ſhe told me he had ſupped with her laſt night after the Opera, and I can aſſure your Ladyſhip, ſays ſhe, that though my boy (for ſo ſhe calls Arundel) is ſo angry with your father, he ſays the fineſt things in the world of you.
Now I dare ſay, anſwered Lady Treville, you are prepared to hear a great many compliments paſſed upon your beauty, but I muſt mortify your expectations by telling you his encomiums were all directed another way, which perhaps you may hold to be a great ſoleciſm in politeneſs.
Pardon me, my good Lady, that is not my way of thinking. Well then, ſaid ſhe with a ſmile, you can well believe that buſy people will be meddling with affairs they have no concern in; and as a certain Sir George Revel, whom all the ladies think ſo great a catch, has circulated your refuſal of him pretty generally, there will be different ways of talking about it. I believe he has been at ſome pains to make his own ſtory as good as he can againſt [Page 266] you: now though all the world knows my love and eſteem for my dear Lady Louiſa, yet it is impoſſible to keep all mouths ſhut in a mixt company, and I believe ſome folks take up the worſt ſide for contradiction ſake.
Not ſo bad as that, Lady Louiſa; enough however to draw out the handſomeſt defence from Mr. Arundel I ever heard: defence do I call it? it was a panegyric, that made every female cheek in the room burn with envy; it put malice quite out of countenance, I can aſſure you, and was followed by a ſilence, which nobody ſeemed hardy enough to interrupt.
One of the company obſerved to me in a whiſper, that the young lady had probably revenged her father's quarrel, intimating that you, my dear, had made Arundel's heart atone for what Lord G.'s had felt.
But is it neceſſary, I demanded, that an anſwer ſhould be given? and if it ſhould, does it not rather reſt with Mr. Arundel than with me? Is not he better able to judge of the ſtate of his own heart than I am for him? If you wiſh to know the truth, my dear lady, had not you better ſeek it from the fountain-head?
Oh Heavens! ſhe cried, if he dared to tell me that he was in love with any woman but myſelf, I would tear his eyes out. I caught him looking at you at the Opera, and I ſent him away with ſuch a lecture, as he will not ſoon forget: I do not know whether I ſhall let him into my houſe this evening, though I have a little private party of muſic and ſhall want his violin; now I was thinking, if your Ladyſhip will honor me with your aſſiſtance at the harpſichord, we will ſend him about his buſineſs and ſhew him that we can do without him.
I fancy I ſhould be an unwelcome viſitor upon thoſe terms; you would find me a bad [Page 268] ſubſtitute for ſo fine a performer; but as I am perſuaded your Ladyſhip has no reaſon to fear any rival, and me perhaps leaſt of any, had not you better let him in?
Then be it ſo! and if he dares to look aſide, truſt me for finding him out; nothing is ſo ſharp-ſighted as jealouſy.—But remember to come and bring all your charms with you, youth, beauty, love and harmony; if I triumph over theſe, my glory will be great indeed.
With theſe words ſhe ſtarted up with all the vivacity of a girl, and taking me by the hand as ſhe left the room, cried out, God bleſs you, my dear Lady, I adore you for your behavior to Sir George Revel; there is but one man living, who deſerves you.
HOW can you be ſo nonſenſical a chit? Do you go, or do you not go to Lady Treville's? that is the queſtion indeed! No, child, that is not the queſtion which I ſhall anſwer, for it anſwers itſelf. You will not ſtop at Lady Treville's, when you are once ſet a-going, if I have any gueſs at your motions: you will have a longer journey on your hands before you are much older; for that promotion, which we are told cometh neither from the Eaſt, nor from the Weſt, nor yet from the South, can of courſe be found no where but in the North, and thither you will go in ſearch of it. I have heard it ſaid there is an old blackſmith, ſomewhere on the borders of Scotland, who, though but a ſooty fellow, is in great vogue for his workmanſhip, and much reſorted to for a particular kind of chains, which I think would ſuit your Ladyſhip's taſte to a tittle, and perhaps laſt you to the end of your life. Now if your [Page 270] my pretty Louiſa, would pay this ſame blackſmith a viſit, it would be realizing the old fuſty fable of Venus and Vulcan; and, to prevent miſtakes, you may take your Aeneas in your hand, and let his armour be fitted upon him in the ſhop: I warrant it will then ſit cloſe to him.
Well! and how did my dear Arundel look at Lady Treville's, what did he ſay and how did he fiddle? I find he draws a ſtrong bow, as my poor Lord G. can witneſs. I adore him for his politics, for I am oppoſition mad; in ſhort, my dear, we of this houſe are poor and hungry, and I do from my heart hope that Arundel will help to ſmoak out all the hive, and let us in for a ſhare of the honey. I would venture a good wager, Louiſa, that at this very time of writing you are one of us. What a happy faculty theſe young reformers have at converting us maiden pupils to their opinions! the wiſdom of the aged is but loft upon us; it goes for nothing.
And ſo you have had the aſſurance to refuſe a lover, whom all the marrying world are pulling caps for; and who but you could withſtand being the fineſt, gayeſt, richeſt bride in England? [Page 271] To be ſure there are a few flaws in Sir George's character, a few trifling blemiſhes, ſuch as pride, ill-nature, inſolence, a ſmall propenſity to the brute, and no want of partiality for dear ſelf: but who ſtumbles at ſtraws? and every Miſs in the kingdom knows, that if her huſband will not make her happy, ſomebody elſe will: there is always ſome kind-hearted creature ready to take pity upon diſconſolate wives, if they are willing to make their ſorrows known. It is my opinion then Sir George will never meet a ſecond rebuff, unleſs he would condeſcend to caſt the eyes of his regard upon me; oh! that his proud ſtomach would come down ſo low! Marry! if a poor Scottiſh laſſie like me was to ſend him packing, it would break the neck of his pride at once; now you can only break his heart: honor enough for him that he may boaſt of having thrown himſelf at your feet, though he has been toſſed out of window for his temerity.
Fie upon it! where am I ſcrambling out of windows? The thought of your dear mother meets me by the way, and rebukes my idle ſpirit for its levity. When I think of her, my [Page 272] heavy heart is like poor king John's in the tragedy— ‘It will not out of windows or of doors.’ Oh that I was with her in her ſolitude! tell her, I beſeech you, if ſhe wants a tame creature to run about the houſe, and be faithful to her, I am at her ſervice. I can hold my tongue when ſhe does not wiſh to hear me talk, and I am too much my own friend not to be ſilent when ſhe ſpeaks: on this ſide idolatry I have ever loved her more than any other woman, but when ſhe was a great Lady, I forbore to make my court to her, as I now wiſh to do in the decadence of her fortune. Oh Arundel, how I love thee for thy gratitude and devotion to the charming Lady G.! Lend me but thy Ceſtus, my ſweet Louiſa, if thou haſt no employment for it thyſelf, and I will level all my borrowed charms at the heart of that dear darling fellow, and ſave him a trip to the blackſmith, for there is not one of my poor kinsfolk, but will toſs their Scotch bonnets in the air for joy at my good luck: I warrant him they will ſet the pipes a ſqueaking, when he comes to Fergus Caſtle. In the mean time [Page 273] here I live without a lover, or even an acquaintance, except one ſolitary tree that ſtands now in my eye from the caſtle caſement, the only ornament of the proſpect; with whom I have made a friendſhip, as there is a kind of ſympathy in our ſituations, being both left naked and alone in the wide world; both planted in a bleak and barren ſoil, and alike unſheltered and expoſed to all the blaſts of Heaven: I viſit it every day, and as I ſtand ſighing under its branches, the kind creature anſwers me with a melancholy murmur, and ruſtles every leaf in token of its fellow-feeling. It is the very emblem of celibacy, for if I was to climb to the top of it I am ſure I could not ſpy out a companion within the range of viſion; it ſtands like Jephtha's daughter, bewailing its virginity upon the mountains, and being of the ever-green race has the property in common with other old maids of never changing its condition. If there had been a flower within a mile of me I would have treated it with a garland; but alas! no purple-fingered hours fling roſe, fling odours here.
Within the caſtle walls all is not habitable [Page 274] that they encloſe; there are trophies, banners, and armour in the hall that beſpeak the warlike dignity of the houſe, but there is wanting that which ſhould cover its nakedneſs, for it is open to the ſky, and the bats now perch upon thoſe caſques, where victory took poſt in times of yore: at the upper end, upon a platform elevated by three ſtone ſteps, is a chair of ſtate for the grete laird of the manſion, overhung with a canopy of plaid drapery, which in obedience to the laws of the kingdom no longer obſerves any diſtinction of colours, and woe betide the ambitious chieftain who ſhould dare to enthrone himſelf under its rotten royalty. On each ſide of this throne are two gothic arches, both which in better days were complimented with doors, but one only enjoys that diſtinction at preſent, and this delivers you into a great chamber, which we, by courteſy, call habitable, and ſo it is more properly by contraſt, for here my venerable anceſtors hang by the wall with their names and ſexes very conſiderately told by the painter, who would elſe have bequeathed a riddle to poſterity too difficult for us to expound. Here alſo ſits my living anceſtor, my noble [Page 275] grandmother, in her eightieth year, the mother of three earls, and the widow, alas! of two: a mournful wreck,
And here ſit I, watching the laſt ebb of nature in the only relique time and the ſword have left me, ſave one beloved brother, lord of theſe ruins, the braveſt hero and the beſt of men, who is now bearing the Engliſh thunder over the waves of the ocean againſt a world in arms: the God of battle, giver of all victory, protect him and his gallant comrade, whereever they are! Wonder not if I adore the name of Arundel, when it is the brave John Arundel, uncle of your Francis, who is the gallant comrade I allude to; with this veteran my brother is now cruiſing; under him he has been trained from a child; he it is who has educated, fathered, and befriended him; under his command he is now ſailing, the diſciple in a frigate, the maſter in a line of battle ſhip; by his ſide perhaps he is fighting. Arundel taught him to be a ſeaman; Heaven made him a hero.In ſecond childiſhneſs and mere oblivion,Sans teeth, ſans eyes, ſans taſte, ſans every thing.
AS your Ladyſhip's great kindneſs has given me a claim upon you for advice in any difficulties, I beg leave now to reſort to you for your judgment in a caſe, than which nothing can be more intereſting to my feelings, at the ſame time that I am doubtful how I ought to act in it with all becoming delicacy towards the party concerned.
There is a lady of high rank, to whom I am under the greateſt obligations, and for whom my heart entertains every reſpectful ſentiment of eſteem and gratitude, now in a very peculiar ſituation, having been exiled from her houſe and family by the tyranny of her Lord, and living in a retired and ſolitary cottage on the ſea-coaſt without a friend or companion with her, and ſolaced only by thoſe conſcious reflections, which the unblemiſhed rectitude of [Page 277] her own virtuous conduct may ſuggeſt for her relief and comfort.
A heart, that overflows for the unmerited ſufferings of this amiable exile, prompts me to expreſs to her the ſenſibility, with which it is penetrated in her behalf; and to attempt at telling her, (if words could tell what it feels) how entirely it is devoted to her—but alas! I am doubtful if I ought to do this, and am afraid leſt the delicacy of her ſoul might reſent the intruſion of my officious zeal upon the ſacred privacy of her retirement.
You, Madam, to whom all theſe fine feelings are preſent, will inform me how to act; and, that you may poſſeſs yourſelf of the caſe in all its circumſtances, I beſeech of you to put yourſelf in the predicament of the lady I deſcribe, and, crediting me for what I profeſs, and even more than I can profeſs, anſwer as in her perſon, and direct my doubtful judgment how to proceed.
If there was a thing within the compaſs of my faculties to attempt, if there was a ſervice to be undertaken for her ſake, though it involved the ſacrifice of my life, I have zeal and [Page 278] ardor equal to the taſk; but if this moment, when I wiſh her moſt to know it, is the very moment, when I ought not to declare it, your deciſion will impoſe ſilence upon me, which however painful to preſerve, I will ſtill perſiſt in; for let me ſuffer any imputation, even of ingratitude, rather than give occaſion to the world but to hint at a ſuſpicion, that might ſully her immaculate character, and furniſh an injurious huſband with matter for retort.
When I was laid up by a wound ſome time ago, ſhe had the tendereſt commiſeration for my bodily pain; ſhall I not feel pity for her mental agonies, now ſhe is wounded in ſpirit by the ſharp fangs of unkindneſs?
A Solitary being, expelled from ſociety, ſeems ill calculated to counſel thoſe who live in it. Had I poſſeſſed the art of accommodating my principles to the tempers and faſhions of the world, I had not now been exiled to this ſolitude; and yet I have not ſo ſoon forgot the manner of all worldly things, as to be totally without an anſwer to the queſtion you put to me.
If you, on whom the ſudden poſſeſſion of a great fortune has juſt fallen, have begun the career of pleaſure, as it is called, which ſeldom fails to appertain to it, the mode moſt conſonant to the eſtabliſhed practice of men of pleaſure is to avoid pain and trouble. In that caſe it will be totally out of character, and againſt all rule of ſelf-gratification, to concern yourſelf any further about this melancholy being, whoſe ſequeſtered cottage by the ſeaſhore [Page 280] can furniſh no delights to you, and whoſe dull ſociety will only damp the ſpring of pleaſure, which ſhould know no relaxation, or remiſſion of activity, in your boſom.
On the contrary, if, amidſt the ſolicitations of the ſenſes, you are ſtill awake to the feelings of the ſoul; if you can ſuppoſe there is a joy in beſtowing comfort to the afflicted, and have any taſte for the delights which ſpring from within, as well as for thoſe which court you from without, then, Arundel, you will turn your ſteps from thoſe flowery paths, where pleaſure leads the dance, and ſtrike into the narrow, winding crag, which, over rocks and thorns, uſhers benevolence into the houſe of mourning: you will go to that ſolitary cottage by the ſea-ſide; you will viſit your afflicted friend, and, if ſhe is clothed in the armour of virtue, ſhe will not fear the ſhafts of malice.
No ſooner had Lady Treville left me, than my father came into my room: for ſome days I had ſcarce exchanged a word with him, and whenever we met he appeared ſullen, dull and out of ſpirits. I was willing to aſcribe it to the derangement of his political ſituation, and I now underſtand it to be decided that he is to retire from office, and that there will be a total change of miniſters.
His countenance very ſufficiently indicated that I was to encounter his diſpleaſure; but when I expected it to break forth, as uſual with him, in ſome ſudden guſt of paſſion, he ſat deliberately down, and without any elevation of voice, began by telling me, that my conduct towards Sir George Revel had at laſt [Page 282] put it out of all doubt that I was in league againſt him with my mother, and that viper (meaning Arundel), whom he had foſtered in his boſom. Yes, added he, ingrateful child, whom I have ſo fooliſhly doated on, it is not in the nature of things to ſuppoſe you would have refuſed a match, ſo deſireable in itſelf, and ſo much the object of my wiſhes, had you not been combined with thoſe incendiaries under my own roof in a plot againſt my honor, happineſs and intereſt. Could you be ſo blind as not to ſee your mother's glaring partiality for that fellow Arundel? Did ſhe not employ him as her inſtrument in the firſt place to affront Sir George, and when the quarrel did not terminate to her wiſh, but her runner got chaſtiſed for his inſolence, ſhe caballed with him for traverſing my meaſures, and turning your affections from their natural bent in his favor to an abſolute rejection of him? Who but ſhe inſpired her favorite with thoſe preſumptuous notions of himſelf, which broke out with ſuch inſolence upon our laſt interview in this houſe, ſo that when I calmly took him to taſk for his officiouſneſs in my family affairs, he anſwered me in ſuch a ſtile, that I [Page 283] was neceſſitated to diſmiſs him from my ſervice? And now, when by a ſudden ſhift of fortune he is ſtarted into conſequence, and been brought into parliament, what but the ſtimulations of her reſentful perſecuting ſpirit could have provoked him to ſtand up againſt me with ſuch perſonal animoſity, and in the bittereſt ſtrain of invective attempt to blacken and arraign my character, who have been the friend that brought him into notice, the moving ſpring of all the undeſerved ſucceſs that has befallen him? Nay, I can well believe that ſhe is capable of furniſhing him with hints and heads for his abuſive, virulent Philippic; for where ſhould he diſcover or invent matter for his calumny? and how ſhould a raw academic ſtart up at once a politician and declaimer, unleſs ſome ſuch miſchief-making meddler had been at work to tutor him in the trade? Reaſons enough theſe in all conſcience for the ſtep I have taken in breaking all connection with your mother, and determining upon that ſeparation, which I am now reſolved ſhall be as rigidly obſerved on your part, Louiſa, as on mine; for henceforward I forbid you even to write to her or correſpond [Page 284] with her in any ſhape; and if you dare to tranſgreſs theſe commands, I will find means to make you rue the hour you diſobey me.
It is no matter, replied he, what I promiſed then; I have upon mature reflection now determined otherwiſe, and I ſee the danger of your intercourſe in a ſtronger light than at that time it appeared to me in. Take notice alſo, that you had not then declared yourſelf againſt Sir George Revel; nay, I had every reaſon to believe you meant to comply with his wiſhes and mine, by giving him your hand. Did you not encourage this deluſion? and do you ſuppoſe any father can continue to repoſe the ſame confidence or affection in a daughter, who repays his kindneſs and betrays his truſt by ſeizing the very firſt occaſion for thwarting all his hopes and projects for her happineſs? No, Louiſa, you have cured me of my partiality, and have nothing now to expect from me but juſtice, and a ſtrict attention to prevent your [Page 285] remaining in the hands of thoſe inſidious counſellors, who have already been but too ſucceſsful in perverting your natural good qualities, your judgment, your duty. Who can tell what chimeras may have ſprung in your mother's projecting brain, ſince her favorite Arundel is become ſo much the favorite of fortune alſo? Both his protectreſſes are blind alike, and you, child, who have been egregiouſly blind in one inſtance, may be ſo in another, and, with the help of her treacherous inſtigations, for aught I know, be trepanned into a paſſion for that deſpicable fellow, and complete the ruin of my peace for ever.
Here he caſt his eyes upon me, and ſeeing me in confuſion, exclaimed, Yes, yes, you may well be overwhelmed with ſhame and confuſion; but remember what I tell you, Madam, Were I certain at this moment that you had ever meditated an act of that deſperation, I would confine you, ſtarve you, annihilate you, ſooner than you ſhould ſo diſgrace yourſelf, and combine againſt your father with his bittereſt enemy; therefore if you are diſpoſed at once to put my heart to reſt, and [Page 286] leave it clear from this and every other ſuſpicion, comply with my advice, gratify me by revoking what has paſſed with Sir George, and allow him to renew his addreſſes to you.
Do this, Louiſa, and be again the beloved of my ſoul; be free as air, aſk what you will, and my fondneſs ſhall conſent to it; viſit your mother when you will, where you will, nay, if that is your deſire, bring her home, reſtore her to her family, my arms ſhall then be open to receive and welcome her;—but if you will not, if you will not do this, but ſtill perſiſt in obſtinately oppoſing my deſire, I exact your ſolemn vow upon the ſpot, never henceforward to exchange a thought, word, or look with that villain Arundel, at any time or upon any occaſion; and at the ſame time I forbid all future correſpondence with your mother.—Now take your choice; I wait for your reply.
Ah Sir, ſaid I, whilſt the tears guſhed from my eyes, what an agonizing alternative have you now forced upon my choice! Are there [Page 287] no means left for appeaſing your diſpleaſure but by ſacrificing my own happineſs? No hope of reconciling you to my unhappy mother but by devoting myſelf before the altar with lying lips and a revolting heart? Muſt I never embrace a beloved parent till I join hands with him who is of all men my averſion? never be permitted to ſpeak comfort to her affliction, till I pronounce the fatal word, that ſentences me to miſery, perhaps to guilt, for ever? Is this my choice of horrors? Are theſe the allotted portions of wretchedneſs, from which I am now commanded to elect my doom for life?
He pauſed awhile, and looked me ſternly in the face—then recollecting himſelf, tauntingly replied—Your imagination, Madam, may fill both ſides of the picture with horrors; I conceive they exiſt only on the reverſe of that which it is your duty to chuſe: I am ſatisfied I propoſe a gentleman who will make you happy; you may have a wretch in your eye, whom I hold in my averſion, therefore it behoves me to be peremptory: I don't wiſh to be amuſed by eloquence and declamation, I [Page 288] deſire only to be anſwered with ſincerity and truth.
Then, my Lord, I reſign into your hands that life, which under God you gave me; I devote myſelf to death, the laſt reſource of human miſery. When you have thus diſpoſed of my mother and myſelf, you will have executed the full powers of a huſband and a father.
Whether he was alarmed at the agony with which I uttered theſe words, or awakened by ſome ſtings of conſcience at the concluſion of them, I cannot pretend to determine, but he took me gently by the hand, and in a low voice ſaid—Be comforted, Louiſa; I am your father ſtill, and cannot forget to love you; but regard me as a father, and enable me to fulfil the promiſe by which I have bound myſelf to Sir George Revel: do not compel me to break the word which I have given him, that he ſhall at leaſt be admitted to renew his addreſſes to you: if I cannot prevail with my child to give him her conſent, give him at leaſt a hearing at my requeſt; ſurely you will not refuſe that to a father: and in [Page 289] the mean time I truſt you will pledge your honor to me not to converſe, correſpond with, or (if that can be prevented) even to ſee Mr. Arundel. Are theſe unreaſonable requiſitions, Louiſa? will you not grant this moderate requeſt to your father?
Oh my Jane, if I were now ſtanding under thy ſolitary tree, in the bleakeſt wind that ever ſhook its weather-beaten branches, I could, ſo Arundel were by my ſide, ‘Smile on the tempeſt and enjoy the ſtorm.’
IT is now in my power to inform you, that the old incumbent of Packington is dead, and the preſentation to that living waits your acceptance. You will not be in any haſte to remove, till I have taken a ſurvey of the premiſes, and put things in comfortable order for your reception. As you tell me you are reſolved to build your neſt for life, I would fain have it made fit for a tenure, which I hope in God will laſt long and be happy. They tell me every thing is in decent repair; but be this as it may, we will have no talk about dilapidations, for I cannot endure to ſee a parſon raking in the aſhes of his predeceſſors, and wringing from the hands of widows or of orphans their vile traſh. Let that taſk devolve upon the patron; let the gratification of preparing an aſylum for the friend of my life be mine. Upon this delightful errand I am [Page 291] now ſetting out, and you may depend upon it I ſhall not let the work ſleep in my hands. When I am on the ſpot I will inform you of particulars; till then, adieu!
P. S. Not another word upon the ſubject of Lady G. if you have any regard for my peace. Lady Louiſa has actually refuſed Sir George Revel.—Divine, angelic girl, how I adore her! I can now for the firſt time ſay my wound is healed; I am whole again. I am juſt now ſetting off for Lady Treville's, where I ſhall meet her this evening. My eyes, my ears, will be bleſt.—Oh hope, my heart embraces thee!Tantum!
WHEN I was beginning to feel ſomething like a dawn of peace, my ſpirits have been agitated afreſh by a letter from Arundel, guarded indeed, reſpectful and ſomewhat obſcure in its manner; but my fooliſh heart caught at the lure, and eagerly embraced the diſtant offer of a viſit.
I am at once delighted and alarmed with the idea; I reproached yet could not command myſelf. I am ſenſible I have done wrong; I know he ought not to come hither. Put aſide vain and fooliſh talking, and for once give me your ſober and ſound judgment: Shall I revoke the invitation? I am reſolute to obey, if you adviſe it.
Events have come to paſs in your family, which perhaps you are not yet apprized of. Lady Louiſa has abſolutely diſcarded Sir George Revel; ſhe has had a caſual interview with Arundel at the Opera, this I learn from Goſſip Report, alias old Lady Treville: I am going to her party this night; I am to take up your daughter in my way, and I alſo know that Arundel will be there.—Muſic is the pretence, but take my word for it, love is at the bottom of it. It is creeping into the world, nay it has already crept.
Farewell. May Heaven protect and bleſs you!
Strange as it may appear, yet I give you my honor it is true, that until I came to this place I did not know Sir Francis Arundel has a family ſeat in this country, and as I am now informed not many miles from the houſe I am in. Whether this would or would not have been a motive with me for coming hither, when I had a retirement to chuſe, is a queſtion I will not aſk of myſelf, let it ſuffice that it is now become no queſtion at all, but downright fate and neceſſity that I muſt fly from it forthwith.
You have now redeemed all former errors; your laſt letter has incloſed an antidote for the [Page 295] poiſon, which your firſt contained. The operation has been ſevere, but the cure is radical; the cauſtic has penetrated to my heart, but the canker, which would have conſumed it, is itſelf conſumed: you have ſaved me; you have ſaved yourſelf, and atoned to virtue.
Why did not my Louiſa confide to me the very firſt approaches of her paſſion? How was it that I did not diſcover them? Where was my intuition?—Ah! where indeed? diverted, miſapplied, engroſſed by treacherous propenſities, blind leaders of the blind.
The affair of Sir George Revel is not new to me; what relates to Arundel is unexpected; but when I recall paſt circumſtances to my memory, I ſee clearly many things by retroſpection, which eſcaped unnoticed at the time; and I am convinced that the impreſſion was given, and has been deepening, from their very firſt interview.
Oh my Louiſa, my child, what a ſcene of difficulties is now opening upon thee! what fury wilt thou have to encounter from my Lord, what malice, what reſentment from Sir George! Now who ſhall prevent a mortal encounter between Arundel and his rival?
Can you wonder if I fly from the world, if [Page 296] I hide myſelf from theſe approaching terrors, helpleſs as I am, and alike incapable either to prevent them coming, or meet them when they come? No, my good friend, let me ſink into oblivious ſolitude, let me ſteer my feeble bark out of the ſtream of this overwhelming torrent. May Heaven direct, preſerve and bleſs my child! May ſhe be happy in the arms of Arundel! May I repoſe myſelf in ſecrecy and retirement.
I have formed my plan, and ſhall not loſe a moment in preparing for it: when I am arrived at the place of my deſtination I ſhall write to you; but as I mean to keep it private from all but you, even from my daughter herſelf and Arundel above all, I muſt conjure you in the moſt ſolemn manner never to divulge my ſecret.
Time may bring all things round; if Providence befriends my child and ſhe is happy with her Arundel, then I will come forth and claim participation in the bleſſing: if not, death is my aſylum; I ſink unnoticed into the forgetful grave.