WHY, thou dear Don, all Dons excelling, from Don Bellianis of Greece, to Don Diſmallo Thickſkullo Halfwitto, of Spain, how ſhall I be able to accommodate my ſtyle to thy romantic ſtrains? Upon my life, Charles, a few ſuch lovers as you would be ſufficient to [Page 2] reſtore the golden age of chivalry once more, and reinſtate our mortal ſex in their former rank of deities; altars and oblations would ſoon become the ton, and the grand tour be exchanged for pilgrimages to our ſhrines.
But for my own part I ſhould never be able to endure ſuch formal modes of proceeding—I ſhould hate to be ſtuck up in a niche to be prayed to. I dare ſwear that, as muſic is generally a concommitant of devotion, I ſhould be tempted on the ſound of a fiddle to ſtep down, take my kneeling votary by the hand, and friſk a cotillon with him.
[Page 3] But now, to relieve part of your fond anxiety, I ſhall acquaint you that the fair Juliana's health is better than when I wrote laſt to you; though I cannot flatter you with the leaſt hope, that her diſpoſition towards you is the leaſt amended by her getting the better of her indiſpoſition—And therefore, my dear, dear brother, let me ſeriouſly entreat you to reſolve upon conquering this ſame—I was very near calling it a nonſenſical paſſion—hopeleſs, you acknowledge it to be; and there needs nothing more to render it ſynonymous.
Why you out-do Petrarch himſelf in conſtancy—For dame Laura, notwithſtanding the ſublimity of her virtue, coquetted a little with him now and then; and whenever ſhe thought that her cruelty would kill—or cure him—ſhe treated him with a kind glance, or a few civil ſpeeches, to keep him and his hopes too [Page 4] from expiring.—Have you met with this charming book? the Life of Petrarch I mean—'Tis univerſally, and I will ſay juſtly, admired; becauſe Mr. Stanley, who you know, brother, ecce ſignum, has a good taſte, ag [...]ees with me in thinking it one of the moſt entertaining works that has been publiſhed theſe many years—and yet I would not have you read it; becauſe I fear the delicate and tender ſentiments it abounds with, might ſerve to ſuper-refine you too much.
I ſhewed your letter to Emma, and ſhe ſeemed to feel a little jealouſy at your not addreſſing it to her inſtead of me; but I told her, what I believe to be true, that the hint was equally meant [Page 5] ſor us both; and may ſay, with regard to Madame Dupont, that it was needleſs to either; for from a thorough knowledge of her character, in which I confeſs I had been much deceived, we have conceived a mutual diſlike to her—This however ſhe either does not, or will not, ſee; for ſhe continues to viſit my ſiſter Deſmond very frequently, who is much too gentle to expreſs her diſapprobation of Madame by any ſtronger means than cold civility, which would be to me as forbidding as rudeneſs—but Madame laughs away with Sir James, and takes not the leaſt notice of Emma's pouting—upon my honour, if I was in Emma's ſituation, I ſhould do ſomething more than pout; I am ſure I ſhould go ſo far as to ſhut my doors againſt her; and indeed every one ought to diſcountenance her; for it is certainly true, that Lady Morton, who was one of [Page 6] the fondeſt mothers, is at this moment boarded and lodged in a little hovel near London, to prevent her being thrown into gaol for debts which ſhe contracted to indulge the vanity of her worthleſs daughter, who neither ſees nor affords her any other kind of conſolation—From my heart I pity the young man who is married to her—A bad daughter never did, or will, make a good wife—A defect in principle runs through the whole maſs, in morals as well as chemiſtry. Gratitude is the moſt natural of all virtues; becauſe it is the firſt affection that children become ſuſceptible of.
Do you know that Emma and Mr. Stanley are both jealous of our correſpondence, though I ſhew them your letters—but not my own—for I hate to [Page 7] be corrected, and my huſband is a critic, you know: and ſo adieu,
My dear Charles,
THOUGH you have changed hands, and ſeem more inclined to addreſs yourſelf to Lucy than me, I will not, even to her, my other, better ſelf, relinquiſh the pleaſure I have always received from your correſpondence; and though ſhe and I are but one, in the common intereſts of life, I muſt inſiſt upon preſerving a ſeparate and excluſive claim to the continuance of your former friendſhip.
While felicity looks humbly round for objects on which it may diffuſe itſelf; grief contracts, but joy dilates the mind—Then let me pour into your breaſt the effuſions of my own, and tell my friend, with tranſport tell him, there never was a happier man than your brother.
O Charles! the treaſures of my Lucy's mind have been concealed till now; beneath the maſk of gaiety ſhe hid the tendereſt, nobleſt feelings of the heart, the juſteſt ſentiments, and the moſt perfect female underſtanding—I glory in doing juſtice to her ſex—Wherefore do blockheads affect to compliment a woman [Page 10] of ſenſe, by ſaying ſhe has a maſculine underſtanding? Learning cannot beſtow either ſenſe or genius; if it could, we ſhould not have ſo many drones and boobies iſſue from our colleges.—Senſe is the common of two, and not confined to either ſex—ſuppoſe it then equally beſtowed on both, women muſt ſurely have the advantage over us; the purity of their minds and morals muſt render it leſs ſophiſticate than ours, which is even in our early youth debauched by vicious indulgences, and clogged with ſcholaſtic ſyſtems.
Did you imagine that I ſhould ever become ſuch a champion for the ladies? ‘But what can't a charming woman do?’ The diſcovery of your ſiſter's uncommon merits, which were concealed by modeſty alone, have rendered me ſuch an enthuſiaſt with regard to women, that I cannot addreſs a chambermaid [Page 11] without ſome degree of reſpect.—You may laugh, if you pleaſe, but I ſpeak truth, upon my honour.
Is Miſs Harriſon a woman of ſenſe? If ſhe be, I ſhould wiſh you were united to her. I think you formerly mentioned her being very lively—What a charm, when added to propriety, and gentleneſs of manners.—I ſincerely long to ſee you as happy as myſelf, if that be poſſible; for I cannot help doubting, whether, to take her for all in all, there is ſuch another woman upon earth as my Lucy.
Your happy friend, W. STANLEY.
MOST willingly, my friend, do I return to my colours, and renew a correſpondence from which I have ever received the ſincereſt pleaſure, though no part of it ever afforded me more than your laſt letter—O Stanley, how much are you to be envied! But envy is a mean, contemptible vice, and utterly incompatible with friendſhip; I therefore [Page 13] do not envy, but rejoice, in your felicity, though certain that I am for ever barred from taſting bliſs like yours; for well I know that heart-felt happineſs is only to be found in a tender and virtuous connection with the object of our love and eſteem; and that, alas! can never be my lot—My youth muſt paſs away in gloomy, dreary, pining diſcontent. Would it were paſſed, and that like Aetna, though my boſom flamed, my head was crowned with ſnow.—Here let me drop the painful ſubject, and never, never, reaſſume it more.
After a very agreeable journey, which would have been ſtill more ſo, had we not been encumbered with Miſs Harley—Heavens! that any thing which bears that name ſhould be to me unpleaſing!—We arrived at Holyhead—But I ſhall not attempt to deſcribe the delightfully romantic wildneſs of the country [Page 14] through which we paſſed to it—From thence we embarked for Dublin; and without ſtorm, tempeſt, or any other ſiniſter accident, arrived there in about eight hours. As Miſs Harley has taken up her abode at Captain Harriſon's, I have declined his friendly entreaties to become his gueſt, but am lodged very near his houſe in Kildare-ſtreet.
Yes, Stanley, Miſs Harriſon is very ſenſible; ſhe has what I call a true feminine underſtanding, and is therefore more capable of inſpiring love, than thoſe ladies who are complimented with a maſculine one. For I muſt diſſent from your opinion, that there is no characteriſtic diſtinction between the underſtandings of the ſexes—Manly ſenſe has ſomething awful in it. When Dr. Johnſon ſpeaks, we liſten with reſpect and admiration, and feel our minds impreſſed with ſuch an attentive kind of veneration, as [Page 15] I imagine was paid to the oracles of old. When Mrs. Montagu, in the pureſt and moſt elegant language, delivers ſentiments equally juſt and ſublime as his, we are ſurpriſed and delighted; the gracefulneſs of her manner ſeems to add beauty to her thoughts; her words ſink into our hearts, like the ſofteſt ſounds of the moſt perfect harmony, and produce the ſame placid effects.
I have now illuſtrated my opinion by the two moſt ſtriking characters, in point of underſtanding, that this, or any other age has produced. The difference between maſculine and feminine underſtandings appears to me as perfectly diſtinct, as the contraſted ſtyle of excellence which is obſervable in the Apollo Belvidere, and the Venus of Medicis.
I am extremely diſtreſſed by Miſs Harley's conduct, or rather miſconduct [Page 16] —She certainly obtruded herſelf upon the Harriſons contrary to their inclinations; though their humanity and good breeding would not permit them to refuſe her accompanying them to Ireland. During our journey, and ever ſince our arrival here, ſhe has ſeemed to affect a particular attachment to me, yet talks perpetually in an ambiguous and rancorous ſtyle of Lady Juliana.
Simple woman! were I even indifferent to her charming ſiſter-in-law, I ſhould deteſt her, for the malignant diſpoſition ſhe hourly betrays—She throws out frequent hints of her having ſome-thing particular to communicate to me; but I am reſolved never to liſten to the envenomed tale, for ſuch I am ſure it would be.
In a ſhort time I ſhall be freed from the irkſomeneſs of her company, as Captain [Page 17] Harriſon and I have agreed to make a tour of this country and viſit ſome of the natural beauties it contains.—This ſcheme I truſt will anſwer a double purpoſe; ‘for I have ſuch a perpetual ſource of diſquiet in my own breaſt, that reſt is grown painful to me, and a ſtate of agitation only affords me relief, by reſcuing me as it were from myſelf.’
O MARIA! how do I curſe the day that I left my own country for this land of ſavages.—Though, to be juſt, I muſt allow that the once highly favoured Evelyn is a more inhuman being than any I have yet ſeen here.—What an eſcape had you, my dear girl, of this ſame iſicle? I really begin to think that his heart is "ſouſed in ſnow," as Madame de l'Enclos ſays of Sevigné, which neither your bright eyes or mine can thaw. I am ſincerely [Page 19] ſorry that I have given myſelf ſo much trouble about ſuch an inſenſible wretch.—I could almoſt go mad with vexation, if it were not for the comfortable remembrance of his having ſlipt through your fingers, when you thought yourſelf almoſt ſure of him—pardon me, Maria, for confeſſing that this circumſtance abates my mortification a little.
To you I will further own, that I was prompted full as much by ſpite, as love, to endeavour at this conqueſt; and I would ſtill give a finger, nay, a whole limb, to rob that affected inſipid lady Juliana of his affections; even if I did not care ſix pence for the man.—Heavens! how I hate her and lady Deſmond: I am ſure they are both hypocrites—but the men are ſuch ideots as to admire theſe flat pictures of ſtill-life, and prefer them even to you or me.
[Page 20] But I beg pardon for abuſing your friend Lady Deſmond; for though I am certain you cannot really like her, yet I hear you are vaſtly intimate.—For my own part I deteſt the whole race of the Evelyns, next to my ſiſter-in-law.
You will, I dare ſay, expect ſome account of theſe Harriſons that I came over with.—The girl is naturally lively, and tolerably agreeable: I fancied, at firſt, that ſhe was in love with Evelyn, and hated her accordingly; but I begin now to think I was miſtaken, though ſhe profeſſes a tender friendſhip for him.—Ridiculous!
Captain Harriſon is handſome and well-bred; but has a ſtrong turn to ridicule, which I believe is a national qualification.—He ſometimes rallies Evelyn, who is really the knight of the ſorrowful countenance, upon his melancholy [Page 21] and reſerve; but his rallery has no effect—how ſhould it? nothing can penetrate that obdurate heart.—I now wiſh that I had beſtowed my affections on the Captain; my fortune, at leaſt, would have been a deſirable object to him, though it is none to the ſavage Evelyn.—But it is too late to think of that at preſent, for both the brother and ſiſter have obſerved my attachment to this iron man.
I don't know why, but I don't believe either of the Harriſons like me, though they are extremely civil to me; but that is no proof of regard from the people of this country, as their hoſpitality is unbounded to ſtrangers, who generally laugh at, and deſpiſe them, for their officious kindneſs.—I ſhall avail myſelf of their generofity by ſtaying here ſome time, if it were only to perſecute Evelyn; for, alas! I am perſuaded, that [Page 22] all my perſeverance will anſwer no other end.
Write to me, my dear Maria, and give me a full and true account of every thing that you think will raiſe my ſpirits, and enable me to ſupport the mortifications I daily ſuffer.—You know the ſort of intelligence from whence alone I can derive comfort.
How does your Caro Spoſo? is he as civil and as ſilly as uſual, or has he aſſumed the lordly airs of an Engliſh huſband? You were very fortunate, Maria, in meeting with ſuch a pis aller * * * *. Don't be angry, my dear girl, for I am ſo much out of temper, that I can't help being peeviſh even to you: I really am, nevertheleſs, your ſincere friend,
The joy I felt at ſeeing a much loved and long abſent brother, was of that ſpecies that I hoped might have been indulged, without fearing to taſte of thoſe bitter dregs that have ever been largely mingled in my cup. For above theſe [Page 24] three weeks, in this ſweet retirement, with him and his friend Lord Somers, did I enjoy ſuch a tranquil kind of happineſs, as made me almoſt forget that I had been wretched.
The unhappy ſeparation between our parents on account of their religion, had occaſioned the ſame misfortune between my brother and me.—My mother, who was a catholic, when ſhe parted from my father, took me with her to Dijon, where I remained till heaven was pleaſed to deprive me of this moſt indulgent parent, and teach my youthful heart to feel too early ſorrow.
At twelve years old I returned into England to my father, who, though poſſeſſed of every virtue, had an auſterity of manners that rendered him more the object of my fear than love. My [Page 25] brother was all kindneſs to me, heard all my little complaints, and ſoothed my private griefs. Judge then, my Lucy, how I loved him?—When I was about ſeventeen we underwent a ſecond ſeparation.—He was ſent to travel—had he ſtaid in England, I think I ſhould not have been what now, alas! I am.—But that is paſt.
After what I have ſaid, will you not doubt my veracity, when I tell you that, within theſe ten days, that once kind and tender brother is become cold, diſtant, and reſerved to me, and treats me like an alien to his heart! and all becauſe I cannot beſtow mine upon his friend Lord Somners.—Hourly I am perſecuted with the flippant addreſſes of this ungenerous peer.—How highly is Mr. Evelyn's conduct, towards me, exalted by ſo marked a contraſt!
[Page 26] Lord Somners is about ſeven and thirty, and has lived abroad theſe twenty years; his dreſs, manners, and attendants are all exotic; his perſon is far from being diſagreeable; but then he ſeems to think of it more highly than it deſerves, and has ſometimes dropt hints of my being engaged in a prior attachment, from my regarding his attractions with ſo much indifference. He bows, ſighs, and ſings, in a regular routine, and is, in ſhort, the moſt complete petit-maître I ever had the misfortune to converſe with.
You will naturally imagine that I might eaſily ſilence ſuch a lover, or at leaſt bear his impertinence with ſilent contempt; but with all the ſeeming volatility I have deſcribed, he poſſeſſes a dark, ſubtle, and, I fear, a treacherous heart.—He has gained the ſtrongeſt aſcendancy over my brother's mind, and is perpetually poiſoning it with the moſt [Page 27] acrimonious reſentment againſt me.—How this affair will end, with regard to the latter I mean, I know not; but this I am certain of, that no power on earth ſhall ever compel me to enter into any engagement with ſuch a man as Lord Somners. Having once been led a trembling victim to the altar, where all my peace and happineſs were ſacrificed, I never will renew that ſcene of guilt, and its attendant, miſery, again.
I would quit Richmond inſtantly, and go—I know not whither—but that I fear to offend my brother; my tenderneſs for him, is ſo mingled with reſpect, that there is but one ſubject on which I ſhould feel it poſſible to diſſent from his will, or to know that I had one of my own. I aſk no dominion even over myſelf, but of the negative kind; and ſurely every independent being has a right to that at leaſt. Yet if my brother's [Page 28] infatuation ſhould tempt him to abandon me, what would become of your unhappy friend?
I WISH I was a conjurer for your ſake, my dear Juliana, but as I happen not to be inveſted with any of the occult qualities, and do not know a word of the Cabala, I find it impoſſible to comprehend your incomprehenſible ladyſhip—I confeſs myſelf ſuch an abſolute ignoramus, as not to underſtand why your health and ſpirits ſhould decline, becauſe your brother has propoſed your marrying a fooliſh Lord, whom you diſlike. [Page 30] —For my own part, I think I love Charles Evelyn as well as any ſiſter loves her brother; but had he taken it into his head to propoſe my marrying any noble Lord, whoſe name and title was regiſtered in the Court Calendar, I ſhould have anſwered, No, brother, I thank you, I beg leave to chuſe for myſelf, and not be directed by an almanack—And had he thought proper to grow ſulky upon ſuch denial, I might have been a little ſorry for the diſappointment of his vanity, but, I will venture to ſay, I ſhould neither have loſt my reſt, appetite, or ſpirits, upon the occaſion—And yet you know that till the other day I was but a ſimple ſpinſter, and you are a grave, and, I wiſh I could ſay, wiſe relict, and have therefore a better right to judge for yourſelf; particularly, as I believe your inclinations were not much conſulted in your former connection.
[Page 31] Indeed, Lady Juliana, you treat this matter much too ſeriouſly, and from thence it has acquired a degree of importance, which it is by no means intitled to—Surely you have not only a negative, but an abſolute power, over yourſelf; and if your brother is worthy of that reſpectful tenderneſs you feel for him, he cannot reſent your exerting your right, where your happineſs, and your's only, is concerned.
Be aſſured of this, my good friend, that it is our ſubmiſſion which enables men to become tyrants—we have ourſelves only to blame—and yet you gentle ones are not entitled to the merits you affect to have, as you yield more from indolence than reſignation, and never comply without repining.
There's Emma, for inſtance, who I think has caught the ſighing ſickneſs [Page 32] from your ladyſhip; ſhe ſpends all her mornings in lamenting the mortification ſhe will ſuffer in the evening from receiving Madame Dupont, and ſome others of Sir James's gang, whom I think as bad as highwaymen, merely becauſe ſhe has not reſolution to order her doors to be ſhut againſt them.
In vain do I remonſtrate to her, that an appearance of habitual melancholy is more likely to alienate her huſband's affections, than her venturing to expreſs her diſlike of his companions can poſſibly do—ſhe anſwers—"ſhe never did, nor ever will, oppoſe his inclinations"—ſo broods over this moral ſentiment, and ſits pining all day in a corner,‘Like to the culver on the bared bough.’ [Page 33]
I would not wiſh you to imagine, from what I have ſaid, that I have a mind to play Termagant myſelf, or that I would wiſh any woman I love to undertake the rôle; far from it, I aſſure you—but I would wiſh my whole ſex to think, act, and ſpeak like rational beings, and not furniſh the men with an excuſe for treating us like babies while we are young, and deſpiſing us as ideots when we are no longer ſo.
But to return to your preſent ſituation,—I would by all means adviſe you to throw off the ſelf-impoſed reſtraint you labour under, and ſeriouſly acquaint your brother with your diſlike to Lord Somners; [Page 34] at the ſame time, gently requeſting that he will prevent his right honourableneſs from perſecuting you with his addreſſes. If, after this, they ſhould ſtill perſiſt in their obſtinacy, order your carriage directly, and do not ſtay moping and fretting at Richmond.
I rejoice that any thing has made you think favourably of my poor Charles; for my own part I condemn his conduct, as being infinitely too romantic; but the object or heroine of his romance ought to ſee his folly in a kinder light; and I am pleaſed you do ſo. How much do I wiſh it was in my power to improve that kindneſs into love—be aſſured I would not deſire to do ſo, if I did not think that your union would contribute as much to your own happineſs as to his. Remember, my dear Juliana, that this is the firſt time I have ever gravely touched [Page 35] upon this ſubject—and I will now drop it for ever, if it offends you.
Adieu, my dear languid friend; rouſe your ſpirits, and come amongſt us, or I ſhall very ſhortly ſtep to Richmond, and uſe a little gentle force to draw you from beneath the mournful cypreſs, or the weeping willow.
SURELY, my dear Miſs Harley, this unfortunate paſſion of your's has diſturbed your mind a little; for in your ſober ſenſes you could not have imagined that I ever had any ſerious thoughts of ſuch an animal as Charles Evelyn—Slipt through my fingers, ſay you? Give me leave to tell you, that if I had choſen to have held him, neither you nor your delicate ſiſter-in-law [Page 37] would have been able to have wreſted him from me—but I hate your water-gruel, whining, ſentimental men, and therefore never could have been your rival.
However, I ſincerely pity you, becauſe I am convinced that your's is an hopeleſs paſſion; and to be ſure it is rather mortifying to be rejected, eſpecially at a time of life when one cannot hope to make many new conqueſts—Excuſe me, my dear, but after thirty, you know, the bloom does wear off a little, and then the fruit is not quite ſo tempting.
My Pis-aller, as you are pleaſed to call him, is the very beſt huſband in the univerſe—Foreigners, in general, are better tempered than Engliſhmen, and not ſo much infected with jealouſy—this is a lucky circumſtance for me, as I [Page 38] confeſs that I have ſtill a little remain of coquetry, and cannot find in my heart to quarrel with a man for thinking me handſomer than his wife; particularly when poor Lady Deſmond is ſo horridly mortified at the preferences I receive.—The ſecret is out, and I know you will thank me for communicating it to you.
Your ſiſter-in-law is at her brother's ſeat at Richmond—Lord Somners has propoſed for her a great match, I aſſure you, and which ſhe poor ſimpleton has refuſed, becauſe ſhe don't like the man:—As if, dans ce ſiecle, it ſignified who one married, provided there be a good fortune to help one to ſupport it. A handſome woman will always have a number of admirers; and ſhe muſt be hard to pleaſe, indeed, if in a croud ſhe don't meet with one ſhe can like. Marriage, formerly, my mother ſays, uſed to put an [Page 39] end to gallantry; but in theſe happpier times, it commences even with our bridal days; and many a girl who paſſed unnoticed while ſhe was only Miſs, is courted and followed from the moment ſhe is ſtyled Mrs.—Therefore, my dear Harley, get rid of the forbidding appellation as ſoon as you poſſibly can—The Hibernian ſwains are generally ſuppoſed ready to aſſiſt a monied laſs upon ſuch emergencies; and I am ſure you cannot make a better uſe of your fortune, than by ſinking the opprobrious title of an old maid under the name of Mrs.—Any thing—
Apropos of Hibernia—I wiſh you could find out ſome part of that country, no matter how wild or remote, where I could place my mother to diet and lodge at a cheap rate—For my dear Dupont is ſometimes unhappy at hearing of her diſtreſſed ſituation; and if ſhe was removed [Page 40] into another kingdom, he might know nothing of her circumſtances, and I would endeavour to perſuade him that ſhe was perfectly happy—beſides, the old lady has ſtill ſome friends living, who ſpeak hardly of my want of attention towards her; and tho' I don't value the cenſure of the world, my huſband is made uneaſy by it, for he wiſhes every one to think as well of me as he does himſelf; but you know that's impoſſible in ſuch an ill-natured world, and I therefore only laugh at all their malicious reflections on my conduct.
I perfectly agree with you that the Ladies Juliana and Deſmond are a couple of hypocrites, but I think Mrs. Stanley worſe than either of them; tho' hypocriſy, indeed, is not one of her failings—She has written me a card, in anſwer to an invitation of mine, civilly forbidding me her houſe! while Lady [Page 41] Deſmond, who has I own ſome cauſe to hate me, receives me with ſuch an icy kind of politeneſs, as would freeze, or rather petrify me, if the warmth of Sir James's reception did not make ample amends for the bleakneſs of her ladyſhip's air and manner.
I am grown extravagantly fond of play—Unluckily, Dupont diſlikes it—In truth, he knows nothing of the matter; but his politeneſs makes him eaſily prevailed upon to fill up a corner at a whiſttable, while I enjoy the delights of loo, or pharo, without controul.
You don't know how much you are obliged to me for devoting ſo much of my time to you at preſent; for as I am the only female of my party, I am ſure they wait for me, and ſo does my carriage to whiſk me to them.
Your's, M. DUPONT.
P. S. If Lady Juliana had not marred her own fortune, by refuſing Lord Somners, I ſhould have done it for her, by dropping a few ſuſpicious hints to his Lordſhip, who is an intimate acquaintance of Dupont's, and frequently viſits here.—There is no pleaſure like demoliſhing a prude—but half my ſatisfaction is deſtroyed, by knowing that ſhe don't like the man—yet it may mortify her pride a little to know that he thinks ill of her—It ſhall be done.
I hope you are by this time ſet out on your tour, and think it highly probable that this may find you meaſuring ſome of thoſe ſtupendous luſus naturae, vulgarly called the Giant's Cauſeway—as if dame Nature, who is an admirable oeconomiſt, ever uſed two means to produce one end, and firſt made giants [Page 44] merely to lift theſe maſſy piles of quarry, which moſt aſſuredly grew in the very ſpot where you will find them. We have ſome ſuch ſuperſtition, I think, with regard to Stonehenge alſo; but, like all other traditions, it is only believed by the ignorant; though, by the way, the learned have not yet been able to tell us how thoſe huge pillars were conveyed to Saliſbury plain; and I can hardly ſuppoſe them to have ſtarted up there of their own accord; though there are a ſort of philoſophers who liberally endow ſtupid and ſluggiſh matter with both thought and action.
Now for matters leſs conjectural.—The caſe is pretty plain, I think, with regard to Miſs Harley; yet on the face of the evidence I am apprehenſive ſhe will be nonſuited, for I well remember that hers was not a beautiful one ſome dozen years ago.—I pity her ſincerely, however; all [Page 45] unſucceſsful paſſions are intitled to compaſſion, and the diſtreſſes of a female intereſt our humanity, much more than thoſe of our own ſex. There certainly cannot be a more aukward or mortifying ſituation for a woman, than that of being in love with a man who diſlikes her. There is in this, as well as many other caſes, an unjuſt diſtinction made between the ſexes, as there is a certain degree of diſgrace attached to the idea of a rejected female, while a man may be refuſed by half a dozen ladies, and pay his addreſſes to a ſeventh, with as good a grace, as if ſhe had been the primary object of his affections.
I am ready to agree with you with regard to the effects produced by different modes of maſculine and feminine elocution, for that is the ſole diſtinction you have made, in your favourite inſtance, [Page 46] between the two great geniuſes you have named.
beſtowedToo much of ornament, in outward ſhowElaborate, of inward leſs exact.For well I underſtand in the prime endOf nature, her the inferior, in the mindAnd inward faculties, which moſt excel.
I muſt beg leave to diſſent from him, nay more, to ſay that he accuſes Providence of a particular partiality in the diſpoſal of his intellectual gifts, between the human race, which is by no means viſible in any other part of the animal creation. All inſtinctive qualities appearing to the full as ſtrong, and as acute, in the female as the male, through every ſpecies of the animal world—Why then [Page 47] ſhould we conceive that the higheſt order of beings, that inhabit this terreſtrial globe, ſhould be more unequally dealt with? It is clear, at leaſt, that Milton did not reaſon from analogy.
Superior ſtrength of body appears to be the portion of the male through all degrees of exiſtence; from hence, and hence only, they have arrogated to themſelves an authoritative command over the weaker part of their ſpecies—but Providencc, ever equal in the diſtribution of its bounty to his creatures, amply atoned for this ſeeming partiality, by endowing the female part of the creation with beauty, to "ſubdue the ſtrong," tame the ferocious, and make their boaſted ſtrength of no other value, but as it ſerves for the preſervation and protection of the favourite female and her helpleſs offspring.
[Page 48] I think I have now eſtabliſhed the ſexes upon an equal ſcale, and fixed my propoſition beyond the reach of controverſy, I mean with regard to their natural endowments, without the leaſt attention to the adventitious circumſtances of education, which I am thoroughly perſuaded makes all the difference between what is ſtyled a maſculine and feminine underſtanding. From you, who are a lover, I cannot expect any oppoſition to the opinion I have advanced, but rather a folio of thanks for having raiſed the dignity of your fair-one's nature, to an equality with that of the ſelf-named lords of the creation.
I have devoted ſo much of my paper to the honour of the ladies, that I have ſcarcely room to tell you that I earneſtly wiſh for your return to London. There is ſomething the matter between Sir James and Lady Deſmond, though ſhe [Page 49] is much too good a wife to reveal the cauſe of her diſcontent either to Mrs. Selwyn or my Lucy; but that there is a cauſe, is perfectly apparent to them both; and they fancy ſhe would be more communicative to you than ſhe is to them.—Indeed, I fear Sir James is poſting to deſtruction; the company he keeps muſt ſink his mind as well as his fortune.—Lady Deſmond is much to be pitied; ſhe is now in the drawing-room with both her ſiſters: they all join me in wiſhing your return, and in ſincere affection,
THE deed is done, Jack! The reverſion of Lady Deſmond's jointure is ſold, manor, houſe, and all! Chancellor Henley uſed to ſay, that a marriage ſettlement without truſtees, was one of the cobwebs of the law, for there never was a woman who might not be kiſſed, or kicked, out of her conſent to part with it. Henley was a wiſe man, and peace be to his manes.
But though this point has been gained, I am not much the richer for it; as Sir [Page 51] James has been admitted of the club at Boodle's, and has played pretty deep with his uſual ill luck, ſo that if it was not for his attachment to Madame Dupont, which keeps him often at home, I ſhould not have ſhared any part of the ſpoil.—He has entirely got out of my hands, and therefore I muſt take care of myſelf. I ſhall put his bond in force while he has any money left to pay it; but as this will make an abſolute breach between us, and that I hate quarrelling with an old acquaintance, I ſhall ſet out for Bath a few days before the money is demanded, and if it is not paid on demand, I ſhall leave orders to have him arreſted immediately.
I rejoice to hear you have ſuch a noble harveſt, and reap ſo plentifully; another labourer in the field may, I think, now be of uſe, as even fools are apt to ſuſpect a player who always wins.—I think it [Page 52] would be prudent in you to loſe a little, if you can do it with a tolerable grace; but as you are apt to be peeviſh, you had better ſtay till I come, and let me win from you—you know we are to paſs for ſtrangers to each other—but all theſe matters we ſhall adjuſt at meeting—'till when I am yours,
IT is all in vain, my Lucy! your kindneſs, your friendſhip, and advice, are all thrown away upon one who is fated to be unfortunate.—If I can, I will methodize the ſtory of my preſent diſtreſs: I begin from the receipt of your laſt letter.
As I had not reſolution to ſpeak to my brother, I wrote to him in the tendereſt terms, expreſſing the ſincereſt concern for having offended him, yet [Page 54] poſitively perſevering in an abſolute refuſal of Lord Somners.—Soon after he had received my letter he came into my dreſſing-room, and ſpoke more calmly on the ſubject than I expected.—He told me I ſhould be releaſed from his friend's importunities, but that in return for his giving up a point he had ſo much fixed his heart upon, he inſiſted upon my anſwering truly any queſtion he ſhould aſk me.—I promiſed to comply with his requeſt.—He then fixed his eyes ſtedfaſtly on me, and aſked, Did you never receive the addreſſes of a Mr. Evelyn? I was all confuſion, and heſitatingly anſwered, Yes—before I was married.—Aye, and ſince too, Juliana—or my information is falſe. Alas, my brother! I replied, that Mr. Evelyn is no more. He died within a fortnight of Mr. Harley.—He anſwered, I am ſatisfied; and left me.
[Page 55] We dined tête-à-tête,—and were tolerably chearful; in the evening ſome company came; I exerted my ſpirits to the utmoſt of my power, and retired to reſt rejoicing that the impending ſtorm was blown over, and flattering myſelf with a ſucceeding calm.
Yeſterday we dined at Lord H—'s, and did not return 'till pretty late in the evening: my brother received a parcel of letters the moment we came home, and retired to read them; I amuſed myſelf with playing on the harpſichord, 'till I was informed that ſupper was ſerved.—On my entering the ſaloon, I ſaw no one but the ſervants, and enquired where their maſter was? I was told his Lordſhip was writing, and did not chuſe to ſup.—I ſat down for form-ſake, and in a few minutes deſired them to take away.—During the ſhort time I ſat at table, I heard a little buſtle in the hall, and [Page 56] the ſound of a chaiſe driving off.—I felt ſomewhat like curioſity upon this occaſion, but aſked no queſtions.
When the ſervants were withdrawn, I took up a book, and waited with an anxious kind of expectation for my brother's coming into the room, till I heard the clock ſtrike twelve—then rang the bell for Watſon to attend me to my chamber.—When ſhe came into the room I fancied ſhe had been crying, but as I could not gueſs for what, I made no enquiry; but on my dreſſing-table I found a letter directed to me, and knowing the addreſs to be my brother's hand, I opened it with infinite perturbation—the contents were as follow:
I have received the ſtrongeſt confirmation of your falſhood: Mr. Evelyn lives!—Lives to deteſt a woman, who, loſt to all ſenſe of her own, and her family's [Page 57] honour, is become as much an object of contempt to him, as to her injured brother,
Now, Lucy, judge what I muſt have felt, what I ſtill feel, from this envenomed dart! yet I know not the ſhaft from whence it came; for, heaven ſo help me at my greateſt need, as I with truth affirm, I do not know a perſon living that I have ever injured.
Yet I will own my puniſhment is juſt, and would with patience bear all that the hand of malice can inflict, were I the only ſufferer—but my loved brother, he [Page 58] is wounded too, even in the niceſt point! Wretch that I am! I have undone his peace.
Adieu, my truly valued friend,
DEAR Maria, the men ſay that the purport of a lady's letter is always contained in the poſtſcript; and were it not for that part of your laſt favour, I could not have forgiven the matronly airs you aſſumed in the reſt of it—but the kind aſſurance you give me of mortifying that hateful prude, my ſiſter-in-law, has bound me for ever to you—I am perſuaded if we were acquainted with her real hiſtory, we [Page 60] need not be obliged to invention to blacken her character; but ſhe is a conſummate hypocrite, and has cunning enough to keep her own ſecrets; ſo that a ſhrewd gueſs is all we have for it, and I think we have a right to make free with that.—Do not ſpare her, Maria, I entreat you—I am ſure if ſhe was to be married to Lord Somners, it would break my heart.
Tho' the bloom is a little worn off, as you ſay, the fruit is ſtill tempting enough to captivate a baronet, of one of the firſt families in this land of genealogers.—Sir John O'Shaughnaſy has laid his laurels [Page 61] at my feet, and opened his honourable trenches in due form before me.—He has been a ſoldier in the Empreſs of Germany's ſervice, and has reaped more honour than wealth from the field; but that is of little conſequence, as my fortune is quite ſufficient to maintain us in affluence in this country, where every thing is much cheaper than in England. My ſwain has all the manners of a foreigner, ſpeaks French and German fluently, is above ſix foot high, and comely with all.—Theſe little circumſtances are not amiſs, in my mind; for I cannot quite agree with you, "that it don't ſignify who one marries." I only wiſh I could change his name, for the ſake of my Engliſh friends, who I am ſure will pronounce it horridly; tho' I am certain my ſpouſe-elect would as ſoon part with his life, as alter a ſingle letter of it.—But every one has their foible, and this I think is my baronet's only one.
[Page 62] Do you know that the brute Evelyn has left Dublin without even bidding me farewel—He carried off Captain Harriſon with him, and their intentions were kept as profound a ſecret from me, as if they were going to invade an enemy's country.—I believe the ſly Miſs Harriſon was in the plot againſt me; but I am ſufficiently revenged on her, by robbing her of Sir James O'Shaughnaſy, who had dangled after her for ſome time—A pretty Miſs, indeed! with her three thouſand pounds, to think of being a lady! thank heaven, I have ten times that ſum to beſtow upon my worthy knight.
I will, if poſſible, be married before Evelyn returns; for to ſay truth, I would not wiſh to ſee him in company with my lover, as I fear the comparifon might ſhake my reſolution; and if he were but to ſpeak kindly to me, I might perhaps [Page 63] be fool enough to break with the baronet—but do you think there is much danger of ſuch an event?
I rejoice alſo at your mortifying Lady Deſmond—ſhe is the ſecond object of my averſion.—You are very lucky in being married to a Frenchman; I fear if I was to amuſe myſelf with a little coquetry, my baronet would be jealous, as he is ſo diſtractedly in love with me; and it is not enough the mode here, for married women to be galant, to familiariſe the idea to him.
When I go to my huſband's caſtle in the country, I ſhall obey your commands, by looking for a proper place to ſettle Lady Morton in; but, take my word, it ſhall be far enough from me, for I hate poor relations, and I think her ladyſhip claims kindred with my mother.
[Page 64] As you love me, Maria, proceed with caution againſt Lady Juliana; too much zeal often hurries us into miſtakes; a hint well thrown out, is frequently more ſucceſsful than a ſtory unſupported by evidence; and, as I have already ſaid, we have no other foundation to build upon but gueſs-work.
I have returned your compliment, by devoting time to you that is extremely precious to me; as I am certain my fond lover is now waiting with impatience to behold me enter the Rotunda, which you are to know is an humble imitation of Ranelagh.
In haſte, your's, ever— ANNE HARLEY.
YOUR letter, my dear Stanley, found my imagination more agreeably occupied than you predicted, as I was juſt then returned from viewing the beauties of the lake, which takes its name from this town—Believe me they are paſt deſcription; and every attempt that has been made to expreſs the various effuſions [Page 66] of nature, in the different ſcenes that conſtitute the whole, falls infinitely ſhort of the originals—Neither the poet's pen nor painter's pencil have yet been able to give an adequate idea of this tranſporting ſpot.—
Here nature wantons, as in her prime,And plays at will her virgin fancies.
The beautiful and ſublime are here mingled in the ſuperlative degree; the great Creator's works, unſpoiled by art, ruſh on the mind, and fill it with delight and awe.—Theſe mixed ſenſations overcame my ſpirits, nor do I bluſh to ſay I found relief from tears. I ſhould look upon a man who could behold this ſcene unmoved, to be deficient in ſome part of his organization, and pity him for his natural incapacity.
—Faireſt of creation!Laſt, and beſt, of all God's works.
Believe me, I am highly charmed with your arguments upon this charming ſubject, and think with you, that if we reaſon from analogy, we muſt give up our boaſted ſuperiority, and admit of an intellectual equality between the ſons and daughters of Adam. This poſition granted, give me leave to ſay the ſcale muſt neceſſarily preponderate in favour of the ſofter ſex, ſince all we have left to put in equipoiſe againſt their ‘beauty, winning ſoftneſs, and attractive grace,’ amounts to nothing more than bodily ſtrength, and the few advantages that may be derived [Page 68] from a liberal education—The firſt can never be oppoſed to them; and the latter, by refining our ideas, renders us but the more ſuſceptible of their charms and endearments. To ſum up all, women are, and ever have been, the ſovereigns of the world. But even monarchs are ſometimes rendered unhappy by the vice or folly of their ſubjects; and the hint you give me, with regard to my beloved Emma, has alarmed me vaſtly—not that I doubt her reigning ſole and abſolute in her huſband's heart; it is his weakneſs, not her ſtrength, I fear.—Perhaps he has again been drawn into play, and in conſequence of his folly, his circumſtances may be again diſtreſſed; I know that Emma's tenderneſs will ſhare his ſorrows without upbraiding; ſhe will mourn in ſecret, nor even, to a ſiſter's ear, reveal her huſband's faults.—Gentle ſufferer! thou ſhalt be relieved.—
[Page 69] Be aſſured that Emma would take as much, nay perhaps more, pains to conceal any difficulty ſhe may labour under, in pecuniary matters, from me, than any other perſon, and that from a point of delicacy.—It was honeſt Sewell, not ſhe, that informed me of Sir James Deſmond's circumſtances while I was at Bath; from him then I wiſh you to find out the ſituation of the baronet's finances; I think they cannot be much embarraſſed, as his debts were all cleared upon his going to London, and if he is not quite a lunatic, he cannot have involved himſelf greatly ſince.—
Your not mentioning Lady Juliana in any of your letters I take unkindly; [Page 70] it is treating me like an infant, who forgets his play-thing when it is removed from his ſight—Can you ſuppoſe that I ſhould ceaſe to think, becauſe you do not ſpeak of the ſole object that occupies my mind?
My agreeable friend and fellow-traveller, grows impatient to return to England, as we have the pleaſure of hearing that Mrs. Williams's health is nearly eſtabliſhed.—I ſhall be ſorry to quit this kingdom with which I am extremely charmed, as much with the people, from whom I have received infinite civilities, as with the place.—But notwithſtanding my reluctance, I ſhall accompany Captain Harriſon to Briſtol, and uſe my utmoſt endeavours to put him in poſſeſſion of the greateſt treaſure this world can afford, an amiable wife.—I think it is almoſt needleſs to tell you that I mean to reſign Captain Williams's [Page 71] legacy in favour of his widow; ſurely I have no title to his fortune, and only held it in truſt till ſhe was able to enjoy it.—The value of the gift will be enhanced, by the pleaſure ſhe muſt neceſſarily receive from beſtowing it on a man whoſe fortune, though by no means contemptible, is far from being adequate to his generoſity.
Captain Harrriſon's eſtate lies in a different province from this; he has buſineſs there, I ſhall attend him, and therefore ſoon bid adieu to this Eden.—As I am ſelf-baniſhed from London, it is of little conſequence in what part of his Majeſty's dominions I reſide.—Your letters will be forwarded to me with punctuality, and I ſhall with impatience expect you to put it in my power to relieve my loved Emma's diſtreſs, by acquainting me with the means that are wanting to her happineſs.
Harriſon's buſineſs will oblige us to ſtay ſome days in this town, which is a very dull one, and the country round it [Page 74] leſs cultivated than any part of Ireland that I have yet ſeen.—The lands are entirely given up to paſture, and we have rode over plains of five or ſix and thirty miles in circumference, without ſeeing the face, or even the veſtige, of any human creature, excepting a few miſerable huts, made up of mud and ſtraw, which appear to be ſcarcely habitable. Yet this country is not without its curioſities.—We went yeſterday to ſee a beautiful lake, about twenty miles from hence, which runs above twelve miles in length, and eighteen broad in many parts of it. Like that at Killarney it is bordered with flowering ſhrubs of various kinds, which grow ſpontaneouſly, and on its banks are ſituated a number of gentlemen's ſeats.—I acknowledge the ſcene beautiful, yet it falls far ſhort of the one juſt mentioned. It wants variety, and that luxuriant wildneſs that tranſcends the efforts of art.
[Page 75] But here I was preſented with a curioſity of another kind, and of the firſt magnitude. As Harriſon and I were riding on the edge of the lake, I obſerved a ſmall brick houſe of two ſtories high, that ſeemed to have no window, or at leaſt not one that looked upon the proſpect I have deſcribed, though it ſtood within a few yards of the richeſt and moſt beautiful part of it.—I immediately enquired, what could that edifice be deſigned for? he replied it was the palace of a Prince, to whoſe preſence he would endeavour to introduce me.—Of a lunatic, you mean, I anſwered, who is ſelf-inveſted with royalty.
You are miſtaken, ſaid my friend, he is a real Prince, the Prince of Coolavin; his anceſtors were lords of this wide domain, and his proud ſpirit cannot bear to look upon thoſe lands, which he conſiders as by right his own, though [Page 76] Cromwell tore the inheritance from his family, and reduced his patrimony to the ſcanty pittance of two hundred pounds a year. For this reaſon he has turned the back of his houſe to this fair proſpect, and looks with more delight upon his farm-yard.—But come, continued he, as I am acquainted with the young Princes, I'll try if I can obtain admittance for us to the Monarch.
When we came near the houſe it appeared, in front, a very decent building, with ſaſh windows; cloſe by it ſtood a ſmaller one, only one ſtory high, at which we alighted, and on our entrance were received by four young gentlemen, with ſuch politeneſs as would have done honour to an higher roof.—The eldeſt of theſe was heir apparent, and married to a very pretty young woman, of the name of O'Connor, deſcended from the King's of Munſter.
[Page 77] The ſecond ſon had been educated in France, and taken his degrees as a phyſician there.—The third was an officer in the Spaniſh ſervice, now on a viſit to his family; and the fourth was, I underſtood, deſigned for the ſervice of the catholic church.
On Captain Harriſon's expreſſing our deſire of paying our reſpects to the Prince, the eldeſt, Mr. O'Dermot, ſaid he would ſignify our requeſt to his father, and as Mr. Harriſon's mother was of a true Mileſian family, he did not doubt his compliance. We were offered a variety of refreſhments, moſt hoſpitably invited to dinner, and informed that we might immediately be introduced to the Dowager and Princeſs Conſort.
We were then conducted by the Spaniſh officer into a ſmall drawing-room, where my eyes were ſtruck with the moſt [Page 78] venerable female figure they had ever beheld.—I declare, Stanley, I was almoſt tempted to bend the knee before her. She was tall, and of a majeſtic appearance, yet had infinite ſweetneſs in her countenance: ſhe was clothed in a blue damaſk dreſs, made like a man's night-gown; on her head ſhe wore what they call a kercher, of thin cambrick, and from that head hung down, even to her ſeet, a profuſion of the fineſt ſilver treſſes that Time had ever blanched. This reverend object brought to my mind that beautiful epithet in Shakeſpeare, of Time-honoured Lancaſter.
To my ſurprize we were firſt preſented to the young lady, who received us with a kind of dignified ſulkineſs, which was very diſguſting; while the elder lady's manners and appearance at once attracted our affection and reſpect.—She entered inſtantly into converſation with us, and [Page 79] amongſt other things, informed us, that ſhe had been full forty years a wife, and that during that time ſhe had never paſſed the bounds of her ſovereign's eſtate; though ſhe owned ſhe had once made an attempt to ſee a little more of the world when ſhe was young; her lord, ſhe ſaid, was then from home, but the moment ſhe had ‘paſſed the line,’ her horſe threw her, and ſhe broke her arm in the fall.—She conſidered this incident as a judgment on her diſobedience, and had remained a contented priſoner of her huſband's mock-ſtate ever ſince.
At length we were admitted to the Prince's preſence; his perſon was large, and ſeemed to have been well made, his figure was erect, his eye piercing, and his countenance ſevere; he was ſeated in an oak great chair, from whence he did not deign to make the ſmalleſt inclination [Page 80] of his body on our appearance, but ſternly aſked the cauſe of Mr. Harriſon's deſiring to ſee him?—My friend was a little diſconcerted by the queſtion, but ſoon recovered himſelf, and with infinite politeneſs replied, his viſit was only meant as a mark of the ſincere reſpect he had been early taught to feel for the Prince of Coolavin.
The old man's features became then leſs auſtere, and he talked in an enraptured ſtrain of the beauty of Harriſon's grandmother, who had, it ſeems, the honour of being allied to him, and bore the name of O'Dermot.—He ſcarcely deigned to turn his eyes on me, and mine did not ſolicit his attention, for they were attracted by an immenſe large coffin, covered with black cloth, that ſtood on one ſide of the chamber; there was an inſcription on the plate in a language I did not underſtand, and therefore [Page 81] ſuppoſe to be Iriſh; and over the plate was a ſomething like a coronet, but not appertaining to any rank of heraldry that I was acquainted with. Over this gloomy apparatus was a ſhelf filled with ſome hundreds of wooden cups, neatly turned, which might each contain ſomething leſs than half a pint; their appearance puzzled me, as they ſeemed to be rather a part of the furniture of a turner's ſhop, than of a Prince's preſence-chamber. On enquiry I was informed they were deſigned to be uſed at the Prince's funeral, when they were to be filled with whiſky, a ſpecies of malt ſpirit, the common beverage in this country, and given to each perſon who ſhould attend his royal obſequies to the ruins of an old monaſtery, which was about an hundred yards from his preſent manſion.
[Page 82] When his Highneſs thought proper to diſmiſs us, we were conducted back to Mr. O'Dermot's, and had the honour of dining with the reſt of this moſt extraordinary family.—The old Lady informed us, that not being royally deſcended, ſhe had never been permitted to eat with the Prince, or to ſit in his preſence, unleſs in caſe of ſickneſs, though he often indulged his daughter-in-law with theſe ſpecial honours.—But ſhe is a Princeſs, added ſhe, and is therefore intitled to ſuch diſtinctions.
From the inſtant I heard this anecdote, I took an averſion to the old ſavage; and could eaſily conceive that he wanted nothing but power to be an admirable tyrant. I thought of him in the ſame light as one of the Caribbee iſlanders, who, as Lord Kaims tells us, do not ſuffer their wives to eat in their preſence, while the women of that [Page 83] country are ſo remarkable for their ſweetneſs of manners, obedience, and reſpect, to their brutal huſbands, as never to give them occaſion to remind them of their duty.
O, Stanley! what a falling off is here, from the pinnacle on which you and I have been labouring to place the female party of our ſpecies? But let it be remembered, that ſavages only, treat women with haughtineſs or contempt.
During the time of dinner we had an old blind harper, who played and ſung ditties to us in the Iriſh language; ſome of the tunes were uncommonly ſweet, and expreſſive of the deepeſt melancholy. I was extremely charmed with the muſic, great part of which, the minſtrel told us, was extempore, as well as the words.—If I could have ſpoken his [Page 84] language, I ſhould have been tempted to try if I could have prevailed on the old bard to have accompanied me to England; though Mr. O'Dermot aſſured me, that O'Farrel, that is the harper's name, would not quit the Barony of Coſtello, for a thouſand pounds a year, but very politely added, that he ſhould, if I pleaſed, attend me while I ſtaid at Roſcommon.—I accepted his offer with thanks, and he returned in our fuite to this town.
During my ſtay at Coolavin, I was extremely amuſed with the ſingularity of the characters I there met with; but my truſty Aſiatic Scipio was a much greater object of ſurprize to the lower claſs of the family, than the heads of it were to me.—They had never ſeen a black man before; and the Princeſs's waiting gentlewoman ſent off an expreſs [Page 85] for her ſiſter, who lived at the diſtance of eight miles, to come and ſee Kouli Khan, the King of the black-men, who ſhe ſaid was come all the way from Turkey to viſit her maſter.—This was her geography about the matter.
It was very late when we got back to our inn; the night was fine and the roads good, and we travelled as ſafe as at mid-day, for there are no ſuch beings as highwaymen throughout this country; the robbing a hen-rooſt, ſtealing a ſheep, or a little whiſkey, being the utmoſt of their miſdemeanors.
Adieu, my dear Stanley, I have written a long, and I hope amuſing hiſtory, and left you at liberty to make your own comments; for were I to tranſcribe the numberleſs reflections which occurred to me upon this ancient [Page 86] mixture of pride and ſimplicity of manners, I ſhould ſwell my letter to the ſize of a volume.
Yours as ever, C. EVELYN.
SO all inconſtant ſwains ought to be ſerved, my good Mr. Evelyn. Here lie two of your letters to my ſpouſe, unopened, and of courſe unanſwered—Had they been addreſſed to me, the caſe would have been otherwiſe, for I love to read letters exceedingly; but you grew tired of my correſpondence, forſooth, and have left me off; ſo that if I was not the beſt natured ſiſter in the world, I ſhould not now take up the pen to acquaint [Page 88] you that my huſband has eloped!—It is true, Charles—I have not ſeen him theſe ten days!—And who do you think has ſpirited him away from me? why truly his grandfather, Sir John Stanley.—He is turned of ninety, and the expreſs that came from Devonſhire informed me that the good old gentleman could not hold out much longer; ſo that I preſume he is now gathered to his fathers and grandfathers, and I may be a Lady at this preſent writing for ought I know.
His knightſhip commanded me not to ſend his letters after him, as he ſhould not ſtay a moment longer than decency required; for the old gentleman took care that affection or eſteem ſhould be entirely out of the queſtion, by behaving like a ſavage to his family all his life—But peace be with his ſoul; and I am now glad that he has ſaved his grandſon's feeling heart from being too [Page 89] much affected at his death—I had like to have ſaid loſs, from a figure of ſpeech that you ſcholars term lapſus linguae.
There is, perhaps, a latent kind of good-nature in behaving ill to one's near connections, for the reaſon I have hinted; but for my part I am ſelfiſh enough to wiſh to be lamented when I die, and am therefore maliciouſly reſolved to behave as well as I can while I live.
[Page 90] But even with the fear of repetition before my eyes, I will venture to ſay that our dear Emma is extremely happy—I have made many gueſſes at the cauſe, but tho' it is too plain that ſhe is on the rack, ſhe will not confeſs—O Charles, how grateful is my heart to Providence, for having bleſſed me with ſuch a huſband as my Stanley! 'Tis true we have not been long married, and it may therefore appear preſumption to expect a continuance of my preſent happineſs—It might be ſo with any other man—but were his heart eſtranged, which heaven avert! I know he would, from principle, lament his own defection, and hide his weakneſs from me.—I muſt not truſt myſelf upon this ſubject, for it is a theme on which my grateful heart could dwell for ever.
As I have an extreme good opinion of your underſtanding, I flatter myſelf [Page 91] you have by this time triumphed over your only weakneſs, and that you can now read the name of Juliana without tremor or palpitation—I will therefore venture to inform you that ſhe has refuſed a match her brother propoſed to her; and, in conſequence of her refuſal, a brouillé has happened between them.—She acquainted me with theſe circumſtances before ſhe left Richmond—I fancy ſhe is gone into Yorkſhire, as I have not heard from her lately, tho' I live in daily and anxious expectation of ſome further intelligence from her upon this ſubject.
It is a ſad thing that this poor lady is not allowed to live ſingle if ſhe chuſes to do ſo; but that right or wrong you men will marry her, whether ſhe will or no—Seriouſly I think it cruel to perſecute her into matrimony, becauſe I really believe ſhe is one of the few widows who wiſh [Page 92] to continue ſo; and as I am ſincerely intereſted for her happineſs, I earneſtly wiſh ſhe was ſuffered to poſſeſs it on her own terms.
A letter from Stanley—I give you joy of my Ladyſhip, Charles, but feel much more from knowing that the dear diſpenſer of all my happineſs is well, and will be in town in a very few days.—I wiſh I knew when I was to rejoice in your coming; for we all think that Emma, like Hamlet's Ghoſt, "tho' dumb to us, will ſpeak to you"—Haſte then, my prince, to finiſh your travels, and keep your court amongſt us here.
Our enemy is fled, and has left us miſtreſs of the field!—I plyed my battery ſo cloſe, that Lord Somners either was, or affected to be, convinced that Lady Juliana is every thing we wiſh to repreſent [Page 94] her; and yet were his lordſhip to repeat every word I have ſaid, it would not amount to a conſiſtent ſtory—There lies the true art of doing miſchief with impunity.
We are no longer rivals now, Nancy, but ſincere friends; I will therefore honeſtly confeſs to you, that I have borne the ſtrongeſt hatred to Lady Juliana, from the moment that ideot Evelyn fell in love with her; not that I loved him, but I would have married him, for he is immenſely rich: and yet I know not whether Lady Juliana was the ſole cauſe of my diſappointment.—I was weak enough to quarrel with him about a wretched proſtitute, for ſuch I am ſure [Page 95] ſhe was that he picked up one evening in the Park, even before his ſaucy ſiſter Lucy and me—But away with the remembrance—I deteſt him, and all that belong to him; and ſome of his family ſhall yet feel my vergeance.
But I am delighted, tranſported, my dear, with your good fortune—You have waited to good purpoſe; I almoſt wiſh I had not been in ſuch a hurry myſelf; a title is a delicious thing; and even a baronet's wife has as good a right, you know, to be called Ladyſhip, as a counteſs.—In truth, one ſhould have ſomething to make one amends for being plagued with a huſband; for even the beſt of them are but an incumbrance.—Dupont is not half ſo agreeable as he was; he ſulks ſometimes as much as any Engliſhman, but I ſuppoſe it is owing to his extreme fondneſs that he cannot bear to have any other perſon admire me; but you know [Page 96] it is not in my power to prevent a man's being in love with one, if he chuſes it, tho' I could almoſt wiſh that the party did not ſhew his attachment ſo openly.
I thank you a thouſand times for your promiſe of ſettling my mother; I don't care where, ſo it could be done ſpeedily; for, to let you into a ſecret, I am much afraid her creditors may get at her where ſhe now is, and it would be rather diſgraceful to have it known that her ladyſhip was in gaol, and what's worſe, I fear Dupont would releaſe her, tho' at the expence of my diamonds.—Haſten your enquiries then, my dear Nancy, as I have now let you into the whole truth of this matter, and don't let your own happineſs engroſs you ſo far, as to be unmindful of your's ever,
P. S. You will again ſay my poſtſcript is the moſt material part of my letter, for I had forgot to tell you that Lady Juliana is turned out of her brother's houſe by my machination, and, as we ſuppoſe, retired into Yorkſhire.
DEAR Jack, I ſhall not ſee you as ſoon as I intended; the tide has turned in Sir James Deſmond's favour, and he is once more afloat with a full ſail—A lucky night at Boodle's has put him in poſſeſſion of ſome thouſands; but it will ſoon be low-water again with him I fancy, as he has found out more ways than one of diſſipating his caſh.—I ſhall ſtay till I find it near ebb. One ſhould not fly from a friend while he is happy, [Page 99] nor incumber him with company when he ceaſes to be ſo—I ſhall endeavour to nick the time of my retreat as exactly as poſſible.
My fair ally has, I think, duped me—Can you believe that I was ſilly enough to grow fond of her! But I have ſeen my folly, and am certain that all women are as ſurely jilts as the changeable goddeſs we worſhip.—I hope you ſtill continue in her favour, dame Fortune I mean; no matter for the reſt of the ſex.
Your's, G. SEWELL.
THANKS to you, my dear Dupont, for your congratulations; they arrived moſt critically upon my wedding-day—My dear baronet was ſo extremely preſſing, that I found it impoſſible to reſiſt, and gave him my hand laſt Thurſday.—His fondneſs is quite romantic; he would not wait for ſettlements, but has aſſured me that I ſhall have an unlimited power over my own fortune, and that he will endow me with a noble [Page 101] jointure.—The Iriſh are all generous, but I think my ſpouſe rather too much ſo.
Miſs Harriſon, who is I believe burſting with envy, ſaid every thing in her power to prevail on me to defer my marriage till her brother's arrival in town; I am certain ſhe had ſome ſiniſter view in wiſhing to delay my happineſs, and yet I cannot gueſs what it could be, for it is impoſſible to ſuppoſe ſhe could be vain enough to think of inveigling Sir John. No matter what her ſchemes were, I have put it out of her power to do me any injury.
I have not yet ſeen any of my huſband's relations; they are all in the country, and indeed there are few people of quality in Dublin at preſent.—I am impatient till we go to our caſtle; tho' Sir John ſays it is a good deal out of repair, and therefore he ſeems inclined to [Page 102] purchaſe a ſmall ſeat within a few miles of town; but I love the grandeur of an ancient family-manſion, and have no doubt but he will indulge my wiſhes.
I am at preſent ſo much engroſſed by my own happineſs, that I have hardly leiſure to rejoice in Lady Juliana's miſfortunes; yet I am ſincerely glad ſhe is baniſhed, and to the ſpot ſhe hates, to Harley-hill.—I give you infinite credit for having brought about a breach between her and her brother; that brother whom ſhe uſed to boaſt of as being all perfection. But ſhe was always inſufferably vain of the merits of her family, and uſed to talk of her mother as if ſhe had been a phoenix; tho' I ſuppoſe ſhe was neither better nor worſe than your's or mine, except her being a counteſs.
Apropos of your mother; I ſhall look for a proper place for her amongſt our [Page 103] tenants; but you muſt excuſe my repeating that I don't chuſe to have her very near our caſtle.—I ſuppoſe her Ladyſhip will be rather in the plaintive tone, and one don't love to hear ſorrowful tales that they can't remedy.
That viper Evelyn is expected in town next week: I will ſet out for our ſeat before he comes—for, O my dear Dupont, I feel I cannot bear his ſight! My baronet, tho' tall and handſome, would be annihilated in his preſence; for tho' both you and I deteſt him, we muſt acknowledge he is charming, in his figure at leaſt. His fooliſh companion, Captain Harriſon, is returning to England to marry the widow of a man who was killed in a ſtrange way at Evelyn's lodgings at Bath; but, thank my ſtars, I have done with the whole ſet; for I don't intend to viſit Miſs Harriſon when I come to town next winter.
[Page 104] For heaven's ſake, my dear Dupont, take care of yourſelf, and don't be caught tripping, unleſs you are ſure of a divorce, and even then you know Sir James Deſmond can't marry you, unleſs you could contrive to detect his ſaint-like dame at a retaliation, which I believe to be impoſſible; for ſhe has not ſpirit enough for a frolic, unleſs ſhe is mightily altered ſince I knew her; ſhe was then called the gentle Emma, and I think can never riſe higher than tago's praiſe—"To ſuckle fools, and chronicle ſmall beer." Sir John is all impatience at my ſtaying ſo long out of his ſight. I hope you will excuſe my quitting you for him, and permit me to ſubſcribe myſelf, my dear Dupont's ſincere and happy friend,
DEAR Evelyn, the hurry of buſineſs I have been engaged in ſince my return to town, will, I hope, be a ſufficient excuſe for not having ſooner acknowledged the pleaſure I received from both your letters.—The firſt has inſpired me with an earneſt deſire to ſee the beautiful lake, which you modeſtlyſay you cannot deſcribe; though you have contrived to give Lucy and me ſuch an idea of it, that we have both reſolved, [Page 106] provided you will accompany us, to viſit Killarney next ſummer; and when we are ſafe landed on the Iriſh ſhore, we ſhall alſo expect you will do us the honour of preſenting us to his Royal Highneſs of Coolavin, and all the noble perſonages of his family.
If the old ſavage, as you juſtly call him, ſhould have retired into his coffin before our arrival, I ſhall hope to be indulged with a ſight of his ſpouſe, of whom I have formed ſo venerable an idea, that I would travel ſome hundreds of miles to have the honour of kiſſing her fair hand, and addreſſing her with that reſpect which is due, not to her huſband's mock royalty, but to her ſex and age.
Had I met with the relation, you have given of this extraordinary family, in a book of travels, or, as it is now more politely [Page 107] ſtyled, a Tour through Ireland, I ſhould have thought the author a bad chronologer, and that he had ſtept back at leaſt a couple of centuries, in order to characteriſe the national weakneſs of the Iriſh, that of uniting pride with poverty.—Your veracity, however, is ſufficient to prove, that even in this enlightened age it ſtill ſubſiſts in a ſuperlative degree amongſt the illuſtrious inhabitants of Coolavin.
I was much pleaſed with your account of the blind bard; I wiſh you underſtood his language; who knows but he may be a ſecond Homer! and might ſing the proweſs of the progenitors of the O'Dermots, in as lofty ſtrains as the Grecian poet beſtowed upon that of Achilles and Agamemnon.—Be that as it may, I am perſuaded that thoſe ditties, which are framed in honour of their anceſtors, ſerve to inflame the [Page 108] pride of the deſcendants, and make them prefer indigence, in a genteel profeſſion, to affluence in a meaner rank of life.—This may appear from the deſtination of the younger ſons, who are devoted to poverty, and can never be of uſe to their country.—I heartily pity their miſguided youth, and think it amazing how ſuch a family of gentlemen, even in the cheapeſt country, can be provided with food and raiment out of ſo ſmall an income as two hundred pounds a year!
I have purpoſely deferred mentioning the moſt material ſubject of your letter, the unhappineſs of Lady Deſmond, becauſe I am by no means certain of the cauſe.—A trifling circumſtance has convinced me that it does not ariſe from any pecuniary difficulty; nay, I have reaſon to ſuppoſe Sir James Deſmond muſt be rather in affluence, though I hate goſſiping, [Page 109] I think you have a right to be informed even of this trivial matter, leſt you ſhould think me tardy in the execution of your generous intentions towards our dear Emma. As I have received a very conſiderable addition to my fortune, by the death of my grandfather, I meant to ſurpriſe my Lucy, by preſenting her with a ſet of jewels which ſhould correſpond with the ear-rings you gave her, and called upon Bellis in Pall-Mall to beſpeak them.—He ſhewed me many beautiful ornaments, and amongſt the reſt a diamond ſprig for a lady's hair, that was both rich and elegant. I enquired the price, which he told me was four hundred guineas. I would have paid for it directly, but he would not part with it, as he ſaid it was beſpoke by Sir James Deſmond, whom he expected to call for it every moment, as he had expreſſed the utmoſt impatience [Page 110] to have it finiſhed.—I immediately directed another to be made exactly like it, and felt myſelf extremely pleaſed with the information I had received, upon a double account, both with regard to the ſtate of Sir James's finances and his affections.
Luckily I did not mention this matter to Lucy, as I meant to keep my tranſaction with Bellis a ſecret till my deſign was complete. In the evening I propoſed our going to Sir James Deſmond's, Lucy, with her uſual condeſcenſion, complied, yet I could perceive a ſomething more like reluctance, in her manner of aſſenting, than I had ever before obſerved to any requeſt of mine.
When we came into Lady Deſmond's drawing-room, we found her embroidering a waiſtcoat for Sir James, their little Fanny playing by her ſide.—At a cardtable [Page 111] were placed Sir Jame, your friend Sewell, two other men, and Madame Dupont moſt elegantly dreſſed; the finery of her whole appearance attracted my eyes, which were ſoon fixed by ſurprize on the identical diamond ſprig, I had ſeen at Bellis's in the morning, conſpicuous amongſt the other ornaments of her hair. I looked ſo long and ſteadily at her head-dreſs, that I fancied ſhe became confuſed; but as ſhe is not eaſily put out of countenance, my own diſagreeable ſenſations upon this ſubject might probably occaſion my thinking ſo.
Sir James, who is always polite, preſſed us to join their party at loo, and the galant Mr. Sewel offered to reſign his place at the table either to Lucy or me.—We declined their civilities, and ſat about an hour converſing with Emma, who appeared more chearful than I have ſeen her for ſome time paſt, yet ſtill an [Page 112] air of melancholy dwelt on her lovely face, and like a ſummer cloud, ſlightly obſcured the luſtre of the ſun.—While I turned my eyes alternately upon Lady Deſmond and Madame Dupont, I was ready to exclaim with Hamlet,
But granting this affair as bad as I apprehend, we muſt leave it to time to cure.—Men will not be ſchooled out of their vices, and corroſives but inflame wounds.—All that can now be done is to guard the infamous ſecret from Emma, the only means of doing which is to get her as much out of the ſcandalous ſet, where ſhe is only a cypher, as poſſible.—This thought immediately occurring to me, I propoſed her going to the opera with Lucy and me to-morrow evening; ſhe did not venture to reply to my propoſal, but turned her [Page 113] dove-like eyes upon her huſband, as if to ſolicit his conſent, which, to do him juſtice, he very graciouſly gave, adding, that he was extremely ſorry a prior engagement muſt prevent him from being of our party.—He is neither a fool nor a brute, we may therefore have hopes of his reformation.Could'ſt thou on this fair mountainLeave to feed, and batten on that moor?
Remember, my dear Charles, that all I have ſaid of Sir James and Madame Dupont, is founded merely on conjecture; ſhe may have employed him to purchaſe this jewel for her, and it would be cruel to rob her of the ‘immediate jewel of her ſoul,’ upon a ſlight ſurmiſe.
The more I reflect upon this affair, the more pleaſed I am at your abſence.—The warmth of your nature would not ſuffer you to wait till time ſhall unravel this myſtery; you would precipitately [Page 114] call for an explanation of your doubts, and by ſo doing, injure the very perſon whom you wiſh to ſerve.
The idea of myſtery recals Lady Juliana Harley to my mind.—It is above ſix weeks ſince ſhe left her brother's houſe at Richmond; neither Lucy, nor any other perſon, except old Watſon, her ſteward, has heard from her ſince.—He, it ſeems, has received her orders to diſpoſe of her houſe and furniture in Berkeley-ſquare. Upon being queſtioned, he told me his Lady was not at Harley-hill; but he either does not know; or will not tell, where ſhe is.
Lucy is inconſolable about her; ſhe fears ſome accident has befallen her, and is hourly making fruitleſs enquiries after her friend.—I confeſs there is ſomething very extraordinary in her conduct; time only can tell us more than we [Page 115] know already, which is, that ſhe is amiable and unhappy.
Since we are upon the ſubject of private hiſtory, I ſhould be glad to know what Miſs Harley is doing in Ireland, and whether ſhe has yet made any impreſſion on your obdurate heart? but if ſhe has failed, I ſhould hope that either Miſs Harriſon, or ſome other of her fair countrywomen, have been more ſucceſsful.
I communicated ſome part of your letters to Mr. Selwyn, and he is determined to viſit Ireland.—He ſays, if your accounts are genuine, there are more ſtrange ſights to be ſeen there than in any other part of the world.—He longs to converſe with the Prince of Coolavin, and ſhew him the ſinfulneſs of pride; and ſays, if he will permit his youngeſt ſon [Page 116] to take orders in the eſtabliſhed church, he will appoint him to a curacy.
BELIEVE me, Stanley, I moſt ſincerely rejoice in every acquiſition of wealth and honour that can accrue to you and my loved Lucy, to whom I muſt intreat you to make my apology for not anſwering her letter; as the contents of your's have ſo entirely engroſſed my thoughts, that I cannot direct them to any other objects but the dear ſuffering ones, of my tendereſt affection.
[Page 118] My ſiſter Selwyn and Lucy will, I hope, forgive me, when I own, that even from my boyiſh days, Emma has been the darling of my fondneſs: but had I never known a partial regard for her till the preſent time, I ſhould have felt it now.—She is unhappy!—Thank heaven! my other ſiſters are not ſo.
Sir James Deſmond is—what I have ever thought him. I will allow that our affections are not always in our power, they may change from the moſt charming to the moſt odious object; but a man of honour will not add inſult to injury, and triumph over the heart that he has wronged.
[Page 119] I think with you that violent means will not recall a wandering affection, and ſure I am that Emma's gentle ſpirit will ſuffer all her huſband can inflict in ſilent ſadneſs; ſhe will not reproach him, nor wound his ears with her complainings; her tears will flow in ſecret, their traces may perhaps be ſeen on her pale cheek, and by her huſband's conſcious heart, they may be deemed upbraidings.
It is extremely fortunate that I am not in London; I could not with patience have endured the ſcene you ſaw at Sir James Deſmond's—How dare he bring his paramour into the preſence of his wife? 'Tis paſt conjecture, Stanley; I have no doubts of their infamous connection. You ſay he is neither a fool nor brute, and therefore we may hope for his reformation—that is, when his vitiated taſte grows ſick and weary of his preſent folly, he will behave leſs cruelly [Page 120] to his wife, from conſcious ſhame of having uſed her ill. But can the heart return when once eſtranged? can ſhe have that unbounded confidence in his affection, which conſtitutes the charm of wedded love? Will ſhe not fear a ſecond change of his affection, and can ſhe look with fond reſpect upon the man who has taught her to think ſlightly of him? Impoſſible! The human heart was formed to feel, and when oppreſſed by unmerited ſufferings, it will reſent. Time's lenient power will no doubt abate the keen anguiſh of diſappointed love—Its cure at length is found in cold indifference, and ſhe who had a right to hope for happineſs, gladly compounds for eaſe. Such is the ſtate of many a female heart; no wonder then if it ſhould ſometimes ſtray, and when rejected by its lawful lord, ſeek conſolation in an alien's breaſt.
[Page 121] I have no fears of this kind for our Emma; ſhe will, as I have already ſaid, too tamely acquieſce in her hard fate. But here I ſwear ſhe ſhall not be inſulted—Madame Dupont ſhall be baniſhed from Sir James Deſmond's houſe; their ſcenes of galantry be played elſewhere.
This is a point on which I intreat Lucy to interfere—It may not be ſo proper for you to appear in ſuch a matter—Depend upon it, Emma is perfectly acquainted with her huſband's folly; her ſiſter therefore may ſpeak freely to her, and I intreat ſhe will.
There ſurely muſt be ſome cauſe for Lady Juliana's conduct—Why is it made a myſtery to me? My tendereſt wiſhes for her happineſs accompany her flight, and ever ſhall attend her—But yet I am not weak enough to form a thought of purſuing her, nor would I obtrude [Page 122] myſelf into her preſence, were it this moment in my power to do ſo—Then do not keep me longer in the dark, but freely tell me all you know about her.
That very ſilly woman, that was Miſs Harley, has married a man who calls himſelf Sir John O'Shaughnaſy; but from all the accounts that I can learn, he is a ſelf-created baronet, and equally deficient in manners, morals, rank, and fortune. She has not been acquainted with him above a month. Miſs Harriſon uſed every argument in her power to delay the marriage till her brother returned to Dublin, in order that he ſhould make ſome inquiries into the man's character; but the lovers were impatient, and married they were. They left this town on the morning of the day that Captain Harriſon and I returned to it; they ſet out, with a very pompous [Page 123] equipage, to a water-drinking place called Mallow, and no perſon has heard from them ſince. I hope the huſband is not ſo bad as he is repreſented; for tho' I diſlike, I bear no malice to her mock-ladyſhip.
No, Stanley! neither Miſs Harriſon, nor any other woman I have ſeen in this kingdom, has made any impreſſion on my heart; tho' I acknowledge I have beheld much beauty here, and that the lady I have named has charms ſufficient, both of mind and perſon, to inſpire the tendereſt paſſion in a vacant heart; but mine is filled with one adored idea, and never ſhall another enter there—I wiſh not to renew the painful ſubject.
Let your next letter be directed to Bath, where I hope to hear that my loved Emma is at leaſt ſet free from the mortifying triumph of her deteſted rival; [Page 124] and alſo, what part of the world Lady Juliana has retired to. Love to my ſiſters. I think I would not have Emma know that I am acquainted with her preſent ſituation; her delicacy will be wounded at knowing that I muſt deſpiſe her worthleſs huſband. Adieu,
My dear Stanley,
DO not imagine, my dear Lucy, that I have not fully ſhared the anxiety you muſt have ſuffered from my unaccounted-for abſence. Thank heaven, this is the only time I have ever wittingly given you pain ſince the firſt happy days we ſpent together in youthful innocence—Ah, why do I recall the fond remembrances?
[Page 126] I have heard it ſaid that at the approach of death we become inſenſibly weaned from our deareſt connections, the fibres of the heart grow relaxed, and thoſe dear ties, which were ſo cloſely wound about it, looſen and decay, ſo as to make us willingly reſign what we can no longer retain.—How highly favourable muſt ſuch a diſpenſation be to the ſons and daughters of ſenſibility! But why may not a living wretch partake of this indulgence? why muſt the abſent forms of thoſe from whom ſhe is baniſhed haunt her retirement, obtrude into her ſolitary cell, and ſkim along before her la [...]guid eyes.
Why do I ſtill behold my Lucy's face, ſee the bright drop ſtand trembling in her eye, or ſilent ſteal along her blooming cheek, drawn forth by pity for her Juliana? Why does my brother's form appear [Page 127] before me? why does contempt ſhoot from his angry eyes even through my ſinking heart? But I have other viſions ſtill more dreadful—ſpectres, indeed, that have long ſtampt indelible impreſſions on my heart and mind.
Would I could tell you all—but ſoon I will—This burſting boſom ſhall have vent, and pour forth all its ſorrows into yours.—A ſad and cruel proof of friendſhip! yet when you know how dearly it muſt coſt me, my Lucy will eſteem it as ſhe ought.
Judge, by your own feelings, what I muſt have ſuffered at tearing myſelf from you, without informing you of my intentions—Too well I knew that you would plead againſt my purpoſe, and I alſo knew, that even you muſt plead in vain.
[Page 128] Deprived of the only ſtay in life, that fate had left me, my unkind brother! on whom could I rely for comfort or protection? A little twig, bending beneath the blaſt, without one foſtering tree to ſhelter or ſupport it.—I have at length eſcaped the ſtorm, and never, never will I brave it more.
My rank and connections in life, unhappily for me, placed me in ſuch a ſituation, that it was impoſſible for me to indulge my ſincere wiſh of living in retirement whilſt I remained in England. I was by many miſtaken for an object of envy, and malice purſued my ſteps, tho' their traces were marked by ſorrow—What then have I to regret in the world I have left? ought I not rather to rejoice in the idea of being forgotten by every acquaintance, and by every friend, except yourſelf, who ever knew or loved me?
[Page 129] The pains I have taken to conceal, even from you, the place of my retirement, muſt convince you that my reſolution is not to be ſhaken—But though determined on an entire ſecluſion from the world, I ſtill wiſh to preſerve the tender attachment that has ſo long ſubſiſted between us, and which is now the ſole remaining charm that can render life ſupportable to me; you may therefore conclude that I deſire to hear frequently from you; for when we ſay we wiſh to be forgotten by the whole univerſe, there is ſtill one tender boſom where we would repoſe, one dear and faithful friend, in whoſe memory we deſire even to ſurvive ourſelves.
I did not bring a ſingle ſervant with me from England—I have ſettled Watſon, who was ſo many years my maid, with her father at Canterbury—The old [Page 130] man was my father's ſteward, and ſtill is mine; his long and faithful ſervices amply deſerve the independence which he now enjoys. If I were capable of taſting pleaſure, I ſhould feel it, from the recollection of having rendered a very worthy family happy.
Watſon is the only perſon to whom I have confided the place of my retreat; you muſt incloſe your letters to him, and he will forward them to me.—You ſee how ſtrongly I rely upon your friendſhip—I cannot fear that I ſhall ever be neglected or forgotten by your tenderneſs and virtue.
When I write next, I hope I ſhall be more compoſed.—Peace has began to dawn upon me ſince the determination of my purpoſe, and may perhaps again reviſit my ſad heart—Soon ſhall its faults [Page 131] and follies be laid open to your friendly eye—But Oh, my Lucy, judge me not ſeverely, and guard the fatal ſecret of
Your unhappy friend, J. HARLEY.
HOW have I trembled for the life, or what is dearer ſtill, the reaſon, of my beloved Juliana; and though your letter has relieved my fears on the firſt ſubject, you muſt pardon my ſaying that I am not yet at peace upon the laſt.
Say, my unkind myſterious friend, what are thoſe cruel ills your youth has ſuffered, that have determined you to [Page 133] quit a world you ſcarce have entered? Bleſt as you are with every outward ſign of happineſs, with beauty, rank, and fortune, what are thoſe ſecret pangs that prey upon your heart? A life of innocence ſhould be a life of peace; and ſure I am my Juliana knows no guilt.
The only misfortune that has ever attended you was the death of Mr. Harley, or perhaps, I might rather ſay, your marriage with him. But thoſe events are paſſed long ſince; and had you loved your huſband with the tendereſt fondneſs, time would ere now have ſoftened your diſtreſs.—The youthful eye bends not its ſpeculation always on the grave—Yours ſhould look forward to long ſmiling ſcenes of happineſs that wait you—Such ſhould your viſions be, becauſe you have a right to hope they would be realized.
[Page 134] I cannot think ſo ſlightly of your underſtanding, as to ſuppoſe your quarrel with your brother ſhould diſguſt you with all the reſt of the world.—Indeed, Juliana, you want not his ſupport, but you want firmneſs to ſupport yourſelf—The little tittle-tattle relative to my brother muſt have quickly blown over—You have ſunk beneath a whiſper, not a ſtorm.
Return, my friend, return, and face your foes; they will vaniſh at your preſence, their malice ſhall recoil upon themſelves, and your fair fame appear more bright from their attempts to ſully it. Flight is always conſtrued into a confeſſion of guilt; there is no retreating from ſlander; we muſt confront the blatant beaſt, or never hope to quell it.
I flatter myſelf this hint will have due weight with you, and make you reflect [Page 135] that you ought not to let your enemies triumph over you, for the ſake of your friends, your family, and yourſelf.
I am firmly perſuaded that a great part of your unhappineſs is conſtitutional, and proceeds from the weakneſs of your nerves; and hence ariſe thoſe ſpectres that you ſay haunt your retirement: they are fancy-bred, Juliana, and would quickly vaniſh in the diſſipation of the gay world—'Tis only in the gloom of ſolitude they ever dwell—Do not then mortify me, by preferring ſuch horrid company to mine.
I believe it is near a dozen years ſince we were firſt acquainted, and during that whole time have I been ſtriving to enliven your ſpirits; for you have been addicted to melancholy, even from your childhood, and of all perſons breathing [Page 136] are the moſt unfit for ſolitude—There may be truth in a paradox.
I ſhall not comment upon the unkindneſs of concealing your deſign of quitting England from me, nor on the childiſhneſs of your continuing to make a myſtery of the place of your retirement. I ſhall only ſay, that whatever other proofs of your friendſhip you may think proper to honour me with, I ſhall ſtill think it deficient, if I am to be kept in the dark with regard to your preſent ſituation; for I think you know me well enough to be certain that I can keep a ſecret.—My deſire to be informed of this particular, ariſes from an higher motive than curioſity; for that alone might well be ſatisfied with the unbounded confidence you have promiſed to repoſe in me.—But, indeed, my dear viſionary, I think you can have no ſecrets that I do not know.—Perhaps I am miſtaken, [Page 137] but at all events you may ſafely rely upon the ſincere and faithful friendſhip of your ever affectionate
P. S. My brother is not yet returned to London.—I imagine he is now at Bath, and has truly ſhared in my diſtreſs for your unaccountable flight.—I ſhall remove his apprehenſions for your ſafety by this poſt.—Would to heaven I could as eaſily relieve the pangs he ſuffers from diſappointed love.
DEAR Charles, the buſineſs of adminiſtration, and a hundred and fifty other plaguy buſineſſes, prevent my Stanley from anſwering your letter by this poſt; and I, though again rejected as a correſpondent, have reſolved to ſhare my joy with you at finding our loſt ſheep.
I have had a letter from Lady Juliana; ſhe is ſomewhere on the continent, but [Page 139] as yet thinks proper to conceal the place of her retreat.—Why, I know not: but I am certain you will rejoice to know that ſhe is ſafe in any place.—Though I am leſs unhappy on her account than I have been, I ſhall not be eaſy till ſhe returns to England.—If the eloquence of my pen ſhould fail to bring her back, I think my Stanley will be ſo indulgent as to ſuffer me to try my perſuaſive powers in perſon, provided we can diſcover her retreat.—I would go to the antipodes for her ſervice, and, I think, the moſt material one I can do her and myſelf, is to reſtore her to her friends.—I fear ſelf mingles much in my affection for her. I cannot bear to think of loſing the companion of my youth and the friend of my heart. But away with the ungenerous ſuggeſtion.
Will you believe me when I tell you, that my lordly ſpouſe has abſolutely refuſed [Page 140] to communicate the contents of your laſt letter to me? though he has had the modeſty to enjoin my writing to you, and bids me tell you every thing I know.—No, truly, Sir, ſaid I, I beg to be excuſed, for I ſhall take this opportunity of convincing my huſband and my brother, that I can at leaſt keep my own ſecrets.—So mum is the word with regard to myſelf.
We have had more of Emma's company of late than uſual, and I have the pleaſure to tell you, that her ſpirits ſeem to be much better than they were.—I wiſh I had a noſtrum that could cure low ſpirits, then ſhould Lady Juliana, Lady Deſmond, and Charles Evelyn, be as well and happy as your affectionate
P. S. Madame Dupont fell from her horſe, in Hyde Park, and ſtrained her ancle, about a fortnight ago, and has been ever ſince confined to her houſe, where ſhe has my conſent to remain as long as ſhe thinks proper, for I like being ſure of not meeting her either in public or private.
DEAR Jack, the ſcene is changed; we have removed our coterie from Charles-ſtreet, Berkeley-ſquare, to Bury-ſtreet, St. James's, and I highly approve of our new ſettlement; for we have now no lookers on.
Monſieur Dupont is not in town, and Madame, his Lady, has met with a ſlight accident that confines her at home, though it does not prevent her being in [Page 143] perfect health and ſpirits.—Her houſe is now our nightly rendezvous, and we have made ſome very agreeable additions to our party, particularly a Lord Somners, who is rich and fond of play.—As we are all pretty ſharp ſet, his Lordſhip ſtands but a bad chance of increaſing his wealth amongſt us; but that is his look-out you know.—I earneſtly pray that Monſieur Dupont may remain in the country, for I have a ſhrewd gueſs that he would diſturb the neſt, if he were to ſee how prettily we build under his roof.
Sir James Deſmond is ſtill a doating enamorato of Madame's, and ſhe coquets it away at a great rate.—There is a good pretty girl, a diſtant relation, by way of companion, in the houſe; ſhe makes tea admirably, and ſings agreeably, when we can ſpare time to liſten to her.—In ſhort, all is mirth and jollity, [Page 144] and the Peer's guineas chink ſweetly in our pockets, yet I ſtill keep my eye fixed on the proper time for decamping, for I am quite certain this party is too pleaſant to laſt, and that it will end ſorrowfully to ſome of us.—I am reſolved to take care of one, and let the reſt ſhift as they may.—Sir James, as I predicted, is again out of caſh, and has borrowed five hundred more from yours,
P. S. I have taken care to get a freſh bond from the Baronet, payable on demand, for the fifteen hundred.—As both you and I are in caſh now, ſuppoſe we looked out for a good mortgage, Jack: you may have many opportunities where you are; young heirs are the people to deal with.—We ſhould ſtrike the iron while 'tis hot.
I am, indeed, ſincerely rejoiced to hear of Lady Juliana's ſafety, though I own our apprehenſions on her account could have no foundation, but that of [Page 146] uncommon and ſiniſter accidents, for ſurely there does not exiſt a ſavage, in the wildeſt part of the univerſe, that would injure her.
I am ſtill extremely perplexed by her conduct, in concealing her retreat from you.—It is not from me that ſhe now flies; my word has ever been inviolable, nor for my own ſake would I renew the pangs I have already ſuffered, by hazarding another interview.
Our Emma too, you tell me, is more chearful—pleaſing intelligence! never may gloom again oppreſs her gentle ſpirits, or ſadneſs cloud the ſweet ſerenity [Page 147] of her complacent brow!—I wiſh you to amuſe her, Lucy: carry her from home—ſad recipe! to ſeek for happineſs by flying from the only ſpot where it is moſt naturally to be found! and yet in hers, as in many other caſes, diſappointment blaſts it in its native ſoil, while diſſipation ſteals its fading colours, and wears a faint reſemblance of it to the world.—For this, I fear, our Emma muſt compound.
Captain and Miſs Harriſon returned hither with me.—In a few days I hope I ſhall prevail on Mrs. Williams to make a very deſerving man happy, by beſtowing her hand and heart upon the Captain.—Soon after their marriage they purpoſe going to the South of France, for the entire recovery of Mrs. Williams's health, which is far from valid, though ſhe is better than I ever hoped to ſee her. Miſs Harriſon, and a young man [Page 148] a very good family and fortune, who is her ſincere admirer, will accompany them.—She has not yet recovered the vivacity ſhe poſſeſſed before her attachment to Captain Williams; but time, they ſay, can conquer every thing, and will, I truſt, eraſe the memory of that diſagreeable event from her mind.
May you long enjoy thoſe charming ſpirits, that contribute ſo much to your own and your friend's happineſs.—My ſincere regards attend Sir William Stanley, Lady Deſmond, and the Selwyns.—Accept the ſame from your affectionate brother,
RUINED and undone, Maria! deceived, ſtript, and deſerted! Can you believe there was ever ſuch a monſter in nature as this beggarly baronet, that has impoſed on me? I ſhall keep my title, for a knight he ſurely is, of ſome foreign order or other; but the being ſtiled your Ladyſhip is all I have got for twenty thouſand pounds; luckily for me there is a reverſionary heir to the [Page 150] other ten, and I could not beſtow it on my vile huſband.
I will be calm if I can, and acquaint you with the whole proceſs of his villainy.—He brought me to this place under pretence that his caſtle (one in the air) was in this county, and that he could have frequent opportunities of ſeeing how the workmen went on with the repairs, by making ſhort excurſions from hence.
When I had been here about a week, I expreſſed my ſurprize at not having received the uſual compliments of viſits, &c. from his family: he told me that moſt of them lived at a conſiderable diſtance, but he would take care they ſhould not be wanting in reſpect to me, and he would ſet out next day to acquaint them with my arrival in the country.—He took the carriage with him, [Page 151] and returned in two days, accompanied by a couple of the ſtrangeſt female frights I ever beheld; the one old and ugly, the other young and rather handſome. Theſe vulgar figures he introduced to me as an aunt and couſin; I received them civilly, but the ſight of theſe quite cured me of my impatience to be acquainted with the reſt of his kindred.
Theſe women got their perſons and dreſs a little new modelled in a few days, and one evening we went to the rooms together, for this, you muſt know, is a water-drinking place.—I had ſat down to cards with ſome ladies of faſhion here, when my couſin Catty, came to the table, and whiſpered me that Sir John had ſent to deſire I would let him have my keys for a few minutes, as he wanted ſome paper out of my writing-box; [Page 152] ſhe ſaid ſhe would carry them to him and return immediately.
I complied without heſitation, and more than an hour elapſed before I grew uneaſy at not ſeeing Sir John or his young kinſwoman.—The old one, who ſtuck cloſe to my ſide, ſaid ſhe believed Sir John and Catty were gone to viſit a relation of theirs that lived about three miles off, for ſhe had ſeen them drive by in the chariot.
Though I was by no means delighted with this intelligence, I concealed my chagrin, and waited in expectation of their ſending the carriage for me, as it happened to rain, till every creature had left the rooms. But, had I ſtaid till it came, I might have remained there for ever.
[Page 153] When I returned to my lodgings, I found the doors of my apartment locked, and, upon enquiring for the ſervants, I was told the men were all gone with Sir John and the young Lady, and they believed my woman was in the bedchamber, as they had heard an odd noiſe in that part of the houſe.—I called to my maid ſeveral times but received no anſwer, and upon having the doors forced open, I found her locked up in a dark cloſet, where ſhe could ſcarcely breathe, and from whence it was impoſſible ſhe could be heard or convey me any intelligence.
My trunks were all lying open, my papers, jewels, money, and the beſt part of my wardrobe vaniſhed.—I became almoſt diſtracted.—The old Jezabel of an aunt either was, or pretended to be, ten times more outrageous than me.—She tore her hair, and uttered a [Page 154] thouſand imprecations againſt Sir John, with whom, in her fury, ſhe diſclaimed all relationſhip.—But I found the great ſource of her ſorrow was the being left behind by her hopeful daughter.
In this dreadful exigence I knew not how to act, but as ſoon as I was a little calm, I applied to a gentleman of the law for advice, he aſſured me there was nothing to be done for my ſervice, as my huſband had a legal claim to all my effects.—I fancied that even this grave ſage of the law, and all the people about me, ſeemed rather to laugh at my diſtreſs than pity it, 'till I informed them that I was ſtill poſſeſſed of ten thouſand pounds, which happily it was not in my huſband's power to alienate. They then changed their manners towards me, and the counſellor would fain have perſuaded me to inſtitute a ſuit in the eccleſiaſtical court againſt Sir John.—I ſhall not [Page 155] take his advice, but mean to return immediately to England, and try what better information I can pick up there.
O, Maria, what vile hypocrites are theſe men! would to heaven I had remained ſingle! and yet it was impoſſible to doubt the apparent fondneſs of this cruel wretch, who ſeemed perfectly to doat on me; and I am ſuch a fool, I cannot help lamenting the loſs of his tenderneſs. It muſt have been that curſed Catty that ſeduced him from me. How will my prudiſh ſiſter-in-law, and all the other puritans of my acquaintance, laugh at my being taken in at this time of my life? I cannot bear the thought.—I think I had better retire into ſome place where I am not known, than expoſe myſelf to the ridicule of thoſe, who pretend to ſtile themſelves my friends.
[Page 156] No, I will purſue my huſband; perhaps I may yet recover his affections or my effects, and get him to diſcard his infamous accomplice.—If you had ſeen how handſome he looked the very day he left me, you could not have believed him a deceiver.
WHY will my deareſt friend add pain to my affliction, by making a requeſt I cannot, muſt not, grant? Full well I know your generous motive, Lucy, nor have I once ſuſpected that the inquiry owed its birth to curioſity merely—Your kindneſs would attempt to reſcue me even from myſelf; but in vain, my friend, for I am ſelf-devoted. Soon will thoſe vows have paſſed my lips which cannot, indeed ſhould never [Page 158] be recalled, and then your fond ſolicitude ſhall be indulged; you then ſhall know the ſpot where I ſhall be irrevocably fixed. This is no ſudden ſtart, believe me, Lucy—Long has the idea wandered through my mind—Long have I languiſhed for that peaceful haven, in which this tempeſt-beaten bark can only anchor.
Too much a ſlave to all the fond affections of the heart, love for my brother tempted me to hope that his ſociety might ſooth my griefs, and lull my cares to reſt—The thought was weak and vain—Bleſt be the diſappointment I have met with—Had it not happened, the arrow muſt have feſtered in the wound, and rankled there for ever—It may now be drawn forth, and the allhealing power of true contrition ſoften every pang.
[Page 159] This language muſt appear obſcure to you, who, judging from your own unſpotted life, muſt have pronounced mine innocent.—Alas! you know me not—Peace flies from hidden guilt, nor can even penitence reclaim the wanderer back, while cloſe concealment bars the door againſt it: confeſſion muſt be added to contrition, and for ſuch an act of humiliation the ſeaſon now approaches.
Commune with yourſelf, my friend, and try your fortitude before you open the encloſed recital; if you ſhrink back from pain, commit it to the flames, and let the remembrance of the ſad reciter periſh with it—O no! that will not be; the tear of pity gliſtens in your eye, and purity like yours will weep for faults it could not have committed.
When you have read my ſtory, you will be convinced that it is not the weakneſs [Page 160] of my head that has conjured up ſpectres to haunt me—and yet I truſt in the unbounded mercy of that gracious Power, whoſe eye alone pervades the human heart; that theſe ſad objects ſhall be baniſhed from me, and peaceful viſions bleſs my nightly ſlumbers.—My hopes thus raiſed, I cannot, will not, doubt of more than pardon, of pity, from my friend—'Tis all I now can aſk, or you beſtow, on the unhappy
P. S. To any one but my Lucy, the encloſed narrative would afford little entertainment; it is not a ſeries of events, but a continued conflict of the mind, and is a hiſtory of paſſions, not of perſons.‘ [Page 161]
Though my loved Lucy is alalready acquainted with all the little events of thoſe bleſſed days we paſſed in youthful innocence together, and that I have already informed you of the cauſe of the ſeparation that took place between my parents while I was a child, you muſt allow me to recur back again to that fatal circumſtance, from which I have cauſe to date my every miſery.
My mother, as you know, died at Dijon, a real martyr to the Catholic religion, which ſhe profeſſed—To that ſhe ſacrificed all earthly ties; the tender wife and the fond mother ſunk before the idea of a higher duty; the conflict was too great for her ſoft nature—‘The ſaint ſuſtained it, but the woman died.’
[Page 162] When the period of all her ſorrows drew near, ſhe called me to her, and with her dying lips enjoined me to pay the ſtricteſt obedience to my father in every point, except that of renouncing the religion in which I had been bred, and which, ſhe added, I truſt my Julia will never forſake; for ſomething tells me, that you may, at ſome time or other of your life, ſtand in need of ſuch an aſylum as can only be found in the boſom of our church.
Too prophetic were her words, but ever bleſt be the guardian ſpirit that inſpired them! The deep melancholy which ſucceeded to the violent ſorrow I felt for the loſs of ſuch a parent, marked my countenance with a timid and dejected air, which my father, at my return to England, unkindly miſconſtrued into a ſullenneſs of diſpoſition, or a perſonal diſlike to him, and this opinion inſpired [Page 163] an haughty coldneſs in his manners towards me—I trembled whenever I approached him; his hand was not ſtretched forth to ſuſtain my feeble ſteps, nor did the encouraging ſmile of parental fondneſs ever ſmooth the ſeverity of his naturally auſtere brow.—My brother was his darling, and my only conſolation—Cruel as he is now become, my heart avows its gratitude to him for all the little happineſs that dawned upon my youth.
When I had been about a year at my father's, he propoſed ſending back the governeſs that had come with me from France, as he juſtly imagined that ſhe kept up my attachment to the Catholic religion, which he was determined I ſhould renounce. This was a ſevere ſtroke to me; I loved Madame Duval as a ſecond parent; ſhe had been a favourite of my mother's, and many pleaſing [Page 164] melancholy hours we uſed to ſpend together, in mingling our tears to her memory.—On this occaſion her dying commands occurred to me, and I ſubmitted without appearing to lament my loſs.
Her place was ſupplied by a very different ſort of woman, unpleaſing in her perſon, and vulgar in her manners—But you muſt remember Mrs. Winterman—I conceived a very ſtrong averſion to her from the firſt ſight; and therefore from the moment that my poor Duval left me, I never had a female friend older than myſelf whom I could conſult upon any difficult occaſion, or to whom I could pour forth the ſorrows of my o'er-burthened heart.
About this aera I had the happineſs of becoming acquainted with you; the vicinity of our houſes in the country produced [Page 165] an intimacy between our families, and ſoon, very ſoon, my Lucy became the adopted ſiſter of my love.—About two years after our friendſhip had commenced, my brother went to travel; my father, who could ill bear his abſence, determined to viſit his eſtates in Scotland, and leave me with Mrs. Winterman and the ſervants at home.—I know my Lucy's kindneſs then prevailed on Mrs. Evelyn to requeſt my father that I might be permitted to paſs the winter with her in London—His conſent to this propoſal was the only mark of his affection I ever had received.—Wou'd to heaven he had been obdurate, as he was wont to be, and confined me at Fairfield: yet let me not unjuſtly charge him with the ſad effects that ſprung from this indulgence—The faults are all my own, the merit his.
[Page 166] About the beginning of the following ſpring, you may remember that your eldeſt brother returned to England on account of your mother's ill health, though he had not finiſhed his travels, nor been abroad above three years.
O Lucy, do you recollect his form? Alas! to me it is for ever preſent. He had ſuch eyes as yours, and Emma's gracious ſmile—Never till then had I beheld what manly beauty was; yet had his charms been merely perſonal, I think they could not have obtained my heart. The tenderneſs he ſhewed his dying mother, his fond attention to her ſlighteſt wiſh, the eaſe, the grace that marked his every action, his kindneſs to my Lucy and her ſiſters, joined to the paſſion he avowed for me, ſoon won-my youthful heart; nor did a thought of blame obtrude itſelf upon my mind, when I beſtowed it on ſuch worth as his.
[Page 167] On Mrs. Evelyn's death, my father ſent for me imediately—Sad was the parting, Lucy; yet I own my tears had different ſources, and flowed, perhaps, even more from love, than friendſhip—Though your amiable brother had offered every argument to ſooth my grief, and ſolemnly aſſured me he would ſolicit my father's conſent, (of which I could not entertain a doubt), as ſoon as it was decent after the loſs of ſo good a mother, yet I could not command my ſorrows; they were impetuous, I continued to weep, and neither eat or ſlept during the journey. On my arrival at Fairfield, my father, in the ſame breath, inquired of Mrs. Winterman what illneſs I had juſt recovered from, and preſented Mr. Harley to me as a particular friend of his and my brother's.
I was ſtruck with horror at the ſight of Mr. Harley, yet could by no means [Page 168] account for my diſguſt; both his perſon and addreſs were pleaſing, yet I ſhuddered when he approached me, as if he had been ſome noxious animal.—My father, in a few days, perceived my diſlike to his friend, and ſpoke of my behaviour with reſentment.—I told him I would endeavour to alter my manners, though I could not conquer my feelings, which I confeſſed were unaccountable, even to myſelf.—He ſternly replied, I would adviſe you to get the better of your prejudice, for it is beginning at the wrong end to ſet out with an averſion to your huſband. I was ſtruck motionleſs at this expreſſion, and ſtood for ſeveral minutes as if I had been petrified.—All the ſorrows I had ever felt vaniſhed from my remembrance, ſwallowed up in the ſuperior gulph of miſeries that my foreboding mind then warned me to apprehend. But tears came to my relief, and ſoon a ray of hope beamed through the [Page 169] gloomy proſpect. My father was ſevere, I knew, but I could not believe he could be ſo inhuman as to ſacrifice the peace and happineſs of an unoffending child—My brother would, I hoped, ſolicit for me, and ſure I thought my Evelyn could never plead in vain.
I retired to my chamber, and wrote you an account of every circumſtance that had happened; I was certain you would acquaint your brother with my ſituation, and I had no doubt but that he would haſten his application to my father—That letter never reached you, Lucy; the cruel Mrs. Winterman delivered it into my father's hands, and he became the more incenſed againſt me.
While I daily waited in anxious expectation of hearing from you, I endeavoured to aſſume a more placid air and manner towards Mr. Harley than I [Page 170] had at firſt put on; unfortunately he conſtrued my behaviour into liking, and addreſſed me with all the warmth of a declared lover. My letter had betrayed me to my father, he ſaw through the thin veil of affability, and, as he after told me, rejoiced at my becoming a ſacrifice to my own deceit.
When a whole month had elapſed, without my receiving a line from you, or my loved Henry, I grew almoſt diſtracted—I could no longer conceal the agonies of my mind—Deſpair inſpired me with courage—I threw myſelf at my father's feet, revealed every ſentiment of my heart, implored his forgiveneſs, and in the humbleſt, but moſt earneſt, terms, beſought him not to devote his child to certain miſery.
He heard me with compoſure, and calmly replied, he did not think himſelf [Page 171] indebted to my confidence for revealing the ſecrets of my heart, as he was already apprized of the weakneſs of my conduct in attaching my affections, without his conſent, to Mr. Evelyn; but though he had no power over my paſſions, I ſhould find he had ſome over my perſon.—He then, in the moſt ſolemn manner, ſwore he would never beſtow his daughter on a man who had made her guilty of a breach in her firſt duty, and meanly ſtrove to ſteal her fooliſh heart after ſo clandeſtine a manner. I attempted to exculpate my Henry, but he commanded my ſilence, and ſternly vowed I ſhould accept of Mr. Harley for my huſband, or from that hour be loaded with his curſe; then left me drowned in tears, and ſinking on the earth—O had it opened wide, and taken me to its boſom, I had been bleſt indeed!
[Page 172] After this dreadful interview, my ſpirits were ſo intirely depreſſed by ſorrow, that I was utterly unable to leave my chamber for above a week, during which time I wrote to your brother and my own; but both theſe letters met the ſame fate as my former one to you, and ſerved, if poſſible, to increaſe my father's rage, tho' heaven is my witneſs I ſpoke not harſhly of his cruel conduct. He intercepted every letter that was addreſſed to me; and, except the indulgence of pen and ink to vent my ſorrows, I was treated in every reſpect like a criminal confined in the Baſtile.
In this deplorable ſituation you found me at your arrival in the country, when I was permitted to receive the tranſport of ſeeing you; but Mrs. Winterman, you remember, never quitted the chamber, but ſat like the figure of curioſity, with eyes, ears, and mouth wide open, to [Page 173] catch every ſyllable that paſſed between us—Though I of courſe was ſilent, with regard to my ſituation, your perſpicuity eaſily diſcovered that ſome unhappineſs of mind was the ſource of my illneſs; and my poor Sally Watſon, who had been baniſhed from my ſight, as ſhe afterwards told me, acquainted you with all the particulars of my diſtreſs.
In conſequence of your viſit to me, I know that Mr. Evelyn immediately waited upon my father, and made the moſt liberal propoſals for his alliance—I alſo know, to my everlaſting ſorrow, that my unkind, I will not call him cruel, father refuſed them with diſdain; yet ſtill my faithful Henry perſevered, bore all the haughtineſs of cauſeleſsly offended pride, and offered even his whole eſtate to be ſettled or diſpoſed of at my father's pleaſure. Alas! it was in vain; I was not ſacrificed to intereſt, but caprice [Page 174] and reſentment, which carried him ſo far as to command that all intercourſe of viſits, meſſages, &c. between your family and ours might ceaſe from that inſtant.
During the time of my voluntary confinement to my chamber, I received ſeveral polite and tender billets of inquiry after my health from Mr. Harley; from theſe I formed a romantic idea, that the gentleneſs of his nature might be prevailed upon to relinquiſh his pretenſions to my perſon, if I could have reſolution ſufficient to acquaint him that my heart was engaged to another. I anticipated in my mind the pleaſure he would feel in rendering two perſons happy, and my eyes often overflowed with gratitude and eſteem for Mr. Harley's ſuppoſed generoſity. This ſimple ſcheme became the darling of my imagination, and I reſolved [Page 175] to put it in practice, as a laſt reſource.
From the time that this thought occurred to me, my ſpirits grew better, and I rather wiſhed, than feared, a meeting with Mr. Harley—It was not long delayed. Soon after his total rejection of Mr. Evelyn, my father came into my chamber, and acquainted me with every thing that had paſſed between them, in order, as he ſaid, to reconcile me to my duty, by totally deſtroying every vain imagination I might have conceived of an union with a family whom he diſliked, for having attempted to ſeduce my affection, without the ſanction of his approbation.
I replied not to this ſevere determination, but with my tears; but when he added, with the moſt peremptory tone, that he expected I ſhould be ready to [Page 176] beſtow my hand on Mr. Harley, without reluctance, that day ſe'nnight; I again threw myſelf at his feet, offered to renounce all connexion with my loved Evelyn, with you, my Lucy, with all my world, provided he would recal his harſh command, and ſuffer me to live and die his daughter. He looked upon me ſternly, and taking up a Bible that lay upon my table, ſwore by it that nothing but my death ſhould prevent my fulfilling the engagement he had made to Mr. Harley, at the time he had already mentioned; then left me, without waiting my reply.
The little hope I had conceived of Mr. Harley's generoſity was now my ſole ſupport, and I reſolved to put it to the proof immediately.—I ſaw him from my window walking in the garden; I called for my hat, and with my tear-ſwoln eyes deſcended to him—He ſeemed ſurpriſed, [Page 177] and rejoiced at ſeeing me, but took no notice of thoſe ſtrong marked traces of ſorrow that appeared on my countenance—I tried to ſpeak to him, but tears ſtopped my utterance, and the imperfect words died on my trembling lips.—I returned to my chamber, convinced of my own inability to expreſs myſelf properly on a ſubject I was ſo much affected with, and thought I ſhould be able to do it better in writing.—After many efforts, which all appeared inadequate to my feelings, I at length finiſhed a letter, in which I exhauſted every argument that I thought could move his honour or pity, and engage him to renounce the worthleſs hand that could not give a heart. When I had ſealed and ſent it, the agitation of my mind became almoſt inſupportable, but ſtill I flattered myſelf that a certainty of any kind would afford me relief.
[Page 178] I was not permitted to remain long in this error, for in an hour's time I received a very florid epiſtle from Mr. Harley, lamenting his misfortune in not having been able to engage my affections, but that as he had every thing to hope for from my virtue and good ſenſe, he flattered himſelf that by a ſeries of unremitted tenderneſs, he ſhould at length triumph over every prejudice I might have conceived againſt him, and concluded with aſſuring me, that the requeſt contained in my letter was the only one I ſhould ever make that he would ever refuſe. With the certainty I ſo much wiſhed for, all my hopes were blaſted, and I then thought it was impoſſible I could ever be more wretched.—Vain preſumption! thoſe ſorrows were but the prelude to far greater woes.
[Page 179] Warned by my folly, let no woman ever confeſs a prior paſſion for another object to him whom fate allots her for a huſband. My fatal letter turned Mr. Harley's heart to ſtone; his pride was piqued, and though I truly think he did not love me, he would have died rather than have ſurrendered me to a triumphant rival.
A thouſand wild vagaries now ruſhed into my troubled brain: I thought of getting off in ſome diſguiſe; of flying to my Henry—But then, would not my father force me from his arms? Might not ſome horrid ſcene of bloodſhed follow? Could I ſuſtain the curſe of diſobedience? O no! my heart ſhrunk within me at the ſhocking thought.—My mother's dying form ſeemed to appear before me, and her laſt words to vibrate on my ear.
[Page 180] I could reſiſt no longer—And when my father came to reproach me with the letter, which Mr. Harley had ſo ungenerouſly ſhewn him, I pacified his wrath by telling him, with a compoſure that amazed myſelf, that I was ready to obey his will, and ſacrifice my peace, my happineſs, and all my ſoul held dear, to his commands, and go a ſilent victim to the altar with Mr. Harley.—At that inſtant my father gazed on me with an aſtoniſhed look, and ſaid, My Julia is incapable of deceit, ſhe therefore purpoſes what ſhe now promiſes, and means to make her father happy at laſt.
O, do not doubt it, Sir, I anſwered, if giving up much more than life can anſwer that great end, behold your daughter ready to make the ſacrifice.—My father turned away his head to hide [Page 181] the ſtarting tear, then took me in his arms and bleſſed me.
I was a perfect Niobe; yet at that moment felt a tranſient tranſport that abſorbed my griefs.—Bleſt ſource of happineſs, the conſciouſneſs of having done my duty; why wert thou not for ever preſent with me? Why has this feeble frame been ever torn between thy dictates and contending paſſions!
My father was ſo much pleaſed with me, that he became all kindneſs on the ſudden. Sally Watſon was allowed to attend me; I was no longer watched by Mrs. Winterman; and he was indulgent enough to poſtpone my marriage for a fortnight without my requeſting it, in hopes that I ſhould, in that time, recover my chearfulneſs—Alas! it was for ever fled from me—and though I [Page 182] wore the ſemblance of compoſure all the day, my nights were paſſed in agonies.
My poor Watſon was amazed at my conduct, and was afraid to mention the loved name of Evelyn.—But as ſhe found me frequently in tears, ſhe began to doubt the reality of my ſeeming calmneſs, and ventured to acquaint me with the numberleſs ſtratagems my Henry had vainly tried to accompliſh his hopes of ſeeing me.—I was terrified at the account ſhe gave me of the dangers to which he had expoſed himſelf for me, and told her, that were it in my power to ſee him, I would decline the interview, as my fate was now irrevocably fixed, and nothing upon earth could alter it.
She then implored my forgiveneſs, for having promiſed to deliver a letter from Mr. Evelyn, which ſhe preſented to me. [Page 183] —I had not virtue to withſtand this trial; I bathed the precious relic with my tears, and placed it next my heart, from thence my anſwer flowed, in which I ſolemnly conjured him, as he valued my happineſs here and hereafter, never to attempt to ſee me more.—I told him that I now conſidered myſelf as Mr. Harley's wife, and that from that moment, I never would receive a letter from, or write to him again.—I poured forth a thouſand fervent wiſhes for his happineſs, and for yours, my Lucy, and bade him everlaſtingly farewel.
In ſpite of my injunctions he wrote again, and Watſon brought his ſecond letter; but I returned it as it came, unopened, and fancied I had now gained a perfect victory over my fondneſs.—How vain the ſelf-ſufficience of our boaſted reaſon!—The letter was no ſooner gone than I a thouſand times [Page 184] repented my not reading it.—Perhaps my Henry acquieſced in my requeſt, and readily reſigned me to his rival.—Had I been ſure of that, it would, I thought, have eaſed my tortured mind, for I too fondly felt his ſorrows added to my own.
My days thus waſting in a ſtate of miſery, brought forward that ſuperlatively ſad one, that was to mark my future life with anguiſh. As it approached I looked on it with horror, yet I wiſhed it paſt. On the preceding evening my father took me by the hand and led me to the garden, where, as we walked, he condeſcended to apologize for the ſeeming ſeverity of his conduct towards me, by ſaying, that he apprehended my oppoſition to his will, had proceeded from my mother's haying ea [...]ly inſpired me with an averſion to his perſon, and a contempt of his authority, which latter article of undutifulneſs, [Page 185] at leaſt, he was reſolved to conquer.
In the zeal of my filial affection to her injured memory, I exclaimed, O, Sir! you do her wrong.—I ſee my mother now, and hear her dying words.—At that inſtant, I beheld my Henry's form, concealed beneath a peaſant's garb, ſtanding near me; I gave an heavy ſigh and ſunk upon the earth.—My father ſtood amazed, and thought the power of fancy had ſo far operated on my weak ſpirits as to conjure up a ſpectre to my view.—He called for inſtant help, and when my ſight returned, I ſtill beheld my Henry's face, pale and dejected, with his hands faſt cloſed, leaning againſt a tree.—I roſe, the moment I had ſtrength ſufficient, and reſting on my father's arm, returned into the houſe.
[Page 186] My father's late returning tenderneſs ſeemed much alarmed at this accident, and he told Mr. Harley, before me, that he thought it proper to deſer our marriage for a few days longer.—Judge of their mutual ſurprize when I requeſted that it might not be delayed. The wretch condemned aſks but an addition to his miſery, who begs a reprieve when hope of pardon is paſt. You may be ſure they readily aſſented, and I deſired leave to retire to my chamber for the remainder of the evening.
There I indulged my ſorrows, and gave a looſe to tears and to complainings—There I reproached the cruel Henry for having diſobeyed my laſt command, and expoſed himſelf and me to certain ruin, had he been detected.—And there I tried to tear-his image from my tortured boſom—‘But in the foldings of my [Page 187] heart, he lived with life, and far the dearer he.’
After a night paſſed in the bittereſt conflict with myſelf, I aroſe more calm, and hoped the force of duty to my father, with a patient reſignation to my irreſiſtible doom, might enable me to go through the awful and irrevocable ceremony with compoſure.—Before I left my chamber, I begged of heaven not to impute to me the ſacrilegous, loveleſs vow, I was compelled to make.—But when the ſolemn words of adjuration, which begins the ceremony, were pronounced, I could no longer contain my ſorrow; it burſt forth; and had not my father ſupported me, I had again ſunk lifeleſs on the earth.
On this occaſion Mr. Harley appeared rather more offended than alarmed, and behaved with a gloomy kind of tenderneſs [Page 188] towards me; while my father ſeemed to impute, what he called accident, to the weak ſtate of my nerves; and, as ſoon as I was able to ſtand again, they proceeded to finiſh the ceremony, and the indiſſoluble knot was tied.
In about a week after I was, to my great ſatisfaction, conveyed to Harley-hill: I flattered myſelf that change of place and objects might amuſe my mind, and that when I had quitted Fairfield I ſhould loſe the remembrance of the ſorrows I had experienced there.—There was another, and a ſtronger reaſon, that made me deſirous of leaving it, the vicinity of your houſe to ours.—I had never ventured to walk in the garden, or even to look out at a window, ſince the evening before I was married, leſt my eyes ſhould encounter their deareſt, yet moſt dreaded, object.—Alas! I knew not that grief had preyed upon my [Page 189] Henry's ſpirits, and that he was at that time confined to his bed with a ſlow fever.
I call heaven to witneſs, that, from the moment I became a wife, I moſt ſolemnly purpoſed to fulfil my duty, and never give Mr. Harlcy the ſmalleſt cauſe of diſcontent.—I concealed my grief, and even endeavoured to aſſume a chearful air; I received his friends and relations as graciouſly as I had power to do, and if a ſigh eſcaped me in his preſence, I bluſhed for having committed an involuntary fault; yet had I not at that time given vent to my ſwoln boſom, and poured forth all its ſorrows to my faithful Watſon, I muſt have died, overcharged with woe.
As ſoon as the hurry and diſſipation of our wedding viſits were at an end, my father left us, and from that hour Mr. [Page 190] Harley became ſullen and ſevere.—When we have been alone, and I have tried to ſooth his temper, and to force a ſmile from his contracted brow, he would take out the fatal letter I had written to him before our marriage, con it over ſeveral times, then look upon me with contempt, and ſay, ‘'Tis damned diſſimulation all.’—I could not, at ſuch times, command my tears, in ſpite of me they flowed.—He then would ſneer, and ſay, ‘Thank heaven, you feel the pangs of diſappointed love.—So far we meet on equal terms.’
We paſſed four months in this deplorable ſtate; I had then the additional misfortune of loſing my father, who died in scotland, and appointed Mr. Harley guardian to my brother.—On this account it was neceſſary for Mr. Harley to go there; and after my grief for my father had a little ſubſided, I felt a ſecret [Page 191] ſatisfaction in thinking that buſineſs, and a new ſcene, might contribute to raiſe his ſpirits, and give a more chearful and contented turn to his mind.
From the time he left me, my days were ſpent in ſolitude, nor did my feet e'er paſs the bounds of his demeſne.—Miſs Harley then was with me; our ſouls but ill accorded; ſhe was quickly diſguſted with the retired life I led, and quitted Harley-hill ſoon after her brother.
It was then the autumnal ſeaſon, and thus freed from conſtraint, my time was all my own; a happineſs I never had enjoyed before; and when the moon ſhone bright, I frequently indulged my meditations, even till midnight, in a grove and temple, that were ſituated at a conſiderable diſtance from the houſe, at the extremity of our improvements. I uſed to have lights placed in the temple, or [Page 192] rather ſummer-houſe, that when I grew tired of walking I might ſit there, and read, or weep, unheard and unſeen.
In this ſequeſtered ſpot I ſat one evening, gazing thro' the dim medium of my tears at Henry's laſt dear letter—I needed not to read it, the words were but too deeply engraved upon my heart—I thought I heard a little ſound of gently treading feet, I ſnatched up my loved treaſure, and placed it in my boſom, then roſe to ſee from whence the noiſe proceeded—My Henry ſtood before me, but ſo much emaciated and altered, that I ſcarcely knew him—I ſhrieked, and would have fled; he claſped me in his arms, and held me there—I could not force my way; nor when he looſed me from his hold, had I the power to move.
[Page 193] He knelt and wept before me—Offended as I was at his intruſion, my breaking heart pleaded his cauſe too ſtrongly, and I reproached him not but with my tears. Juſt then I heard the trampling of a horſe cloſe by the temple ſide, which joined a private road that Mr. Harley ſometimes uſed—I bade my Henry fly—He preſſed me to his heart, and left me—It was our laſt embrace. The door that he came in at to the garden then ſtood open, and I hoped he might eſcape unſeen.
Fear lent me wings; I ran, or rather flew, into the houſe, and gained my chamber; the family were all at reſt but Watſon—My looks were wild, ſhe trembled at my appearance, and eagerly aſked me what had happened—I could not anſwer her, but ſat fixed in a gloomy ſtupor.
[Page 194] When I could ſpeak, I ordered her to bed—When left alone, I became quite diſtracted, I tore my hair, and ran about the room, I knew not why; I threw up the ſaſh to liſten to ſome ſound, and was a thouſand times tempted to throw myſelf out of it—I could hear nothing but the paſſing breeze, and dogs that bayed the moon.—I ſtole ſoftly down ſtairs, and reſolved to return to the temple, from whence I could look upon the road, and ſee if any one was there; but terror had unſtrung my trembling limbs, and they would not ſupport me, and in all the miſery of anxious ſuſpence, I waited for the morning.
When the day dawned, I began to flatter myſelf that I might have been miſtaken in ſuppoſing the horſeman that paſſed the temple ſhould be Mr. Harley; and yet he, and he only, had a key that opened all the gates that led into that road. Conjecture was in vain—my poor [Page 195] diſturbed imagination could not form one that did not teem with horror.
About ſix o'clock I heard a confuſed noiſe at a diſtance, and a cry of fire—I looked, but ſaw none; the ſervants who were up ran towards the ſound, and quickly brought me word that the ſummer-houſe was in flames—But a ſtill more horrid ſound now pierced my ſinking heart: in looking for water to extinguiſh the fire, they had found Mr. Harley's body weltering in his blood, with a diſcharged piſtol clenched in his ſtiffened hand.
The ſervants raiſed the body, and as they brought it towards the houſe, I heard their loud laments, and ruſhed amongſt them—Think how my eyes were blaſted with the ſight! They could not bear it for a ſingle moment—I ſunk into a ſwoon—For above ſix days I remained [Page 196] delirious, without a ſingle interval of reaſon.—My faithful Watſon never left my fide, nor ſuffered any perſon but the doctor to approach me. Though ſhe has never hinted at it, I am certain that in my ravings I betrayed myſelf, and told the horrid ſecret of my having been the occaſion, though not the cauſe, of my huſband's death.
When my ſenſes and my miſery returned together, I inceſſantly prayed and wiſhed for death—‘But he comes not at call, nor mends his ſloweſt pace for plaints or cries.’ As a ſacrifice of atonement to my huſband's memory, I bound myſelf by the moſt ſolemn vow never to ſee my Henry more—Yet ſtill I own I wiſhed to know his fate, and be informed what provocation he had received' from Mr. Harley, that could exculpate him from the foul crime of murder. I knew he had not purpoſed this [Page 197] vile act, and I moſt earneſtly hoped that ſelf-defence alone had forced him to commit it—I ſometimes, for a moment, even wiſhed that Henry had fallen inſtead of Harley. I conſidered myſelf as an accomplice in his death, and was a thouſand times tempted to relieve my mind from the agony I ſuffered, by revealing the unhappy circumſtances that occaſioned it—But then, forgive me heaven! my love returned, and I rejoiced the man who killed my huſband was in ſafety.
Mr. Harley's relations took every poſſible pains to diſcover his murderer—Shocking term, my Lucy—Large rewards were offered, but no trace appeared that led even to ſuſpicion. The circumſtance of the ſummer-houſe being ſet on fire was alſo unaccounted for, as none but Watſon knew I had [Page 198] lights there, which in my fright I had forgot to extinguiſh.
From the time I recovered my reaſon, though anxious for his fate beyond expreſſion, I never mentioned Mr. Evelyn's name. I concealed all the miſery I felt within my tortured boſon; nay had that kind of tenderneſs for Watſon, which Macbeth expreſſes for his wife, when he ſays, "Be innocent of the knowledge."—The unhappineſs of my mind had humbled me ſo far, as to make me look up with reſpect to my ſervant—She was deceived by my outward ſemblance, and thought that grief for Mr. Harley's ſhocking and untimely fate was all the woe that preyed upon my heart. She delivered me a letter which had come by poſt encloſed to her—It was from Henry; it lies before me now; and if my tears will give me leave, I'll copy it.
TO LADY JULIANA HARLEY.
Yet do not think me worſe than I unhappily am—tho' ſtained with blood, I am not a vile murderer—Heaven knows how earneſtly I ſought to avoid the fatal conteſt that has deſtroyed our every hope of mutual happineſs! He called me villain, baſe adulterer! Impatient as my nature is, I yet forbore to anſwer him; for conſcious innocence diſclaimed the opprobrious terms.—He ſtruck me, Julia—I could bear no more, but bad him uſe the weapons of a gentleman—We [Page 200] both had piſtols; he diſcharged one, but miſſed me; I fired one of mine in the air. He again preſented at me, ſwearing with the moſt dreadful imprecation, that if I eſcaped his ſecond fire, you ſhould be his victim the next inſtant.
My calmneſs left me; your danger rouſed my paſſions; we both fired at the ſame inſtant—I ſaw the unhappy Harley fall—I threw myſelf upon my knees beſide him, but ſoon diſcovered that all help was vain.—Heaven is my witneſs! that at that moment, I wiſhed to have been in his ſituation rather than my own.—But when I thought of what you muſt have ſuffered had he lived, it in ſome meaſure reconciled me to his death; tho' never, Julia, will my mind know peace, for having been the unhappy inſtrument of his untimely fate.
[Page 201] I was a thouſand times tempted to give myſelf up to juſtice, and expiate my crime by yielding up my life—But there again you interfered; I could not bear the thought of loading you with ignominy, of blaſting your fair fame, and leaving you alone to ſtand the ſhock of infamy.
Yet while I write I feel I ſhall not long ſupport my ſhare of miſery—a burning fever preys upon my nerves.—How wretched is my lot, ſtill doomed to add new ſorrows to that heart, for whoſe dear peace I would ten thouſand times have ſacrificed my own.
I tremble for your ſufferings, Julia, when you ſhall hear your Henry is no more—Yet, O my love, my life, remember, that if my days were lengthened, they muſt be days of ſorrow, nor would our fate permit that I ſhould [Page 202] ſoften or alleviate yours—We muſt have parted, Julia, and what is death but parting? Its only pang is there, and that is paſt.
Then grudge me not the ſole retreat of miſery, the peaceful grave; there only can your Henry know reſt, and there I truſt that he ſhall find it, if true contrition can atone his crime. O my loved Julia! add your prayers to mine, for pardon and peace to the departing ſpirit of your faithful dying
—Grief will not kill,For Julia lives, to ſay that Henry died!
Are you not now amazed how conſcious of the evils I had brought upon your family, I dared to view your face, or to behold the day? Yet ſuch was the fatality of my attachment to my dear departed Henry, I could not bear my own exiſtence, but at thoſe times my thoughts were fixed on him, and my ſad fancy buſied in retracing the likeneſs of his features in an Evelyn's face.
The ſecret of my woes is now revealed, and my heart lightened of an heavy [Page 204] load.—But, after this confeſſion I muſt decline our ever meeting more.—I ſhould ſink down abaſhed before you, and wound your gentle mind by my abaſement.
MY truly loved and moſt unhappy friend! Why have you broke my heart? I think my tears will never ceaſe to flow. You deign to aſk my pity, you have more, much more, my admiration and eſteem.—Moſt truly do I revere your fortitude, and mourn your ſorrows.
In what ſad ills has your inhuman father's cruelty involved my hapleſs brother, the ill-fated Harley, and your [Page 206] dear ſuffering ſelf? Yet I reſpect the mildneſs with which you treat the memory of him who was at once the author of your being, and your woes.
I at this moment bluſh from recollecting the petulance with which I have often jeſted with your grief, unknowing of the cauſe. Can you forgive me Julia? Yes, I know you will, though I cannot pardon myſelf.
It is impoſſible that any human being can think you guilty of Mr. Harley's death, and heaven, that judges from intention only, will moſt ſurely acquit you. Nor did my unhappy brother, I am well convinced, ever purpoſe ſuch a crime; his guilt was accidental, and he moſt ſurely forfeited his life in expiation of it.—The rigour of the laws could aſk no more, and heaven, I truſt, accepted of his penitence.
[Page 207] A thouſand things recur to my remembrance, that ſtrongly proved my brother wiſhed to die; he concealed his illneſs till it was paſt cure, nor even then would be prevailed upon to keep his bed, or take any kind of medicine.
Fear not, my friend, that I ſhall ever more attempt to change your purpoſe, or ſtrive to draw you from your ſanctuary.—The world contains no joys for grief-worn minds.—The ſlender ſuperſtructure of all earthly pleaſures, muſt ſoon decay if not ſupported by an heart at eaſe.—But thoſe more permanent delights, that ariſe from an holy and religious fervor, which, like the vital flame, is never extinguiſhed, ſhall ſtill be yours, and time, that leſſens the value of all other enjoyments, will but increaſe theirs, 'till even this life may afford you ſueh a ſtate of happineſs, as only can beheightened in the next.
[Page 208] Without your leave I never ſhall break in on your retirement, yet ſure the time may come, when all your ſorrows ſhall ſubſide to reſt, and my then ſainted friend may look on Lucy's face without emotion. In the mean time my prayers and tears are yours.—Write to me, I entreat you; tell me that grief is baniſhed from your boſom, and that the roſelipped cherub, peace, has filled its room.
Adieu, my moſt beloved and moſt lamented friend,
DEAR Jack, the route is come, and I think it high time to march; Menſieur Dupont will be in town in a few days.—I have reaſon to apprehend that there are others who mean to decamp as well as I; but I may, perhaps, put a ſpoke in the wheel of the ammunition-cart. I never was ſo near being nicked in my life, but as luck would have it, I diſcovered the trick before they counted game.
Your's, G. SEWELL.
[Page 212] The card parties at Sir James Deſmond's have been, for ſome time paſt, to all appearance, broken up; our dear Emma regained her eaſe and chearfulneſs, and her huſband ſeemed to behave with more affection and attention towards her, than he had done ſince her arrival in London.
But what can eſcape the piercing eyes of love? Emma ſoon found out that the ſcene was only changed, and that the nightly origes were ſtill held at Madame Dupont's in Bury-ſtreet; her huſband, who is much to be pitied, having been for ſome time in the country.
In conſequence of this diſcovery, ſome little altercation paſſed between Sir James and Lady Deſmond; he had, however, art enough to lull her anxiety to reſt, and all ſeemed peace and harmony between them.
[Page 213] On Saturday laſt Emma dined at our houſe, Sir James was expected, but ſent an apology; after dinner ſhe was affected with ſome little complaints incident to her ſituation, for ſhe is far gone with child, and expreſſed an earneſt deſire to go home—Lucy would have attended her, but we had other company, nor did ſhe think her ſiſter very ill.
Our carriage was immediately ordered for her, and ſhe left us.—In a very ſhort time after, one of her ſervants came running, almoſt breathleſs, to our houſe, and entreated I would come to his lady directly.
Almoſt at the ſame minute a meſſenger brought me a note from Sir James Deſmond, dated from a bailiff's houſe in Carey-ſtreet, requeſting me to come to him inſtantly.—I immediately ſuppoſed Emma's alarm to proceed from a [Page 214] knowledge of her huſband's ſituation, and flew to her to relieve her apprehenſions and aſſure her of my aſſiſtance.
When I entered her apartment I found her lying breathleſs on a couch, her maids in vain endeavouring to recover her from a ſwoon; there was a letter lying by her, which I knew to be her huſband's writing, and was ſhocked at his inhumanity, in having acquainted her with his diſtreſs.
I ſent off directly for a ſurgeon to bleed her, and alſo a note to Lucy, deſiring her to acquaint her company, that Lady Deſmond was taken ill, and come to her as faſt as poſſible.—I waited in hopes that her ſenſes would return, that I might be able to ſet her mind at eaſe about her huſband, but with all the aid that could be given her, ſhe relapſed from one fainting fit into another, and [Page 215] the ſurgeon who attended, ſeemed to be apprehenſive for her life.
Lucy caught up the letter that lay by Lady Deſmond, and before ſhe could have read more than half of it, ſhe burſt into tears, and ſunk upon the ſofa, by her ſiſter.—I ſeiſed the contagious ſcroll and read the following lines.
TO LADY DESMOMD.
Before this paper will reach your hands, we ſhall be many miles aſunder.—I hope your ſenſe and virtue will enable you to conquer any remains of tenderneſs [Page 216] you may yet feel, for a man who acknowledges himſelf unworthy of it.
Our affections are not in our power, and though I own that mine have ſtrayed to an object perhaps leſs amiable than yourſelf, believe me, Emma, I would not thus publicly have deferted you, had it been in my power to have ſupported appearances any longer. But, in truth, I am a ruined man, and had I ſtaid, muſt have involved you in miſery without extricating myſelf; for my pride would never ſuffer me to bear the being indebted to your family, for the means of ſubſiſtence, and I have long ſince parted with the laſt of mine.
The ſincereſt ſatisfaction I can at preſent feel, ariſes from the certainty that your brother will take care of you and my little Fanny, and will properly educate [Page 217] the child you carry, if it ſhould be a ſon.
The generous girl who accompanies my flight, has ſacrificed all that was dear to her, for my ſake.—Bear her no hatred, Emma; ſhe is much leſs to blame than him who, for the laſt time, ſubſcribes himſelf your huſband,
I was almoſt ſtruck ſpeechleſs with indignation at the peruſal of this vile paper, and was no longer ſurpriſed at Lady Deſmond's ſituation, but could by no means reconcile its contents with the ſummons I had ſo lately received from Sir James.—I inſtantly ſet about unravelling the myſtery, and thought, if I could bring Sir James Deſmond back to his houſe, his preſence would more effectually contribute to his wife's [Page 218] recovery, than any other medicine that could be tried.
When I reached Carey-ſtreet I ſaw Sir James Deſmond's poſt-chaiſe and four horſes ſtanding at ſome diſtance from the bailiff's houſe.—When I came into the room where he was, Madame Dupont was ſeated by him, in an elegant travelling dreſs.—He immediately ſtarted up, and ſaid, Sir William, I fear your delay has undone me; I ſhall not get out of this odious houſe to-night.—I replied, Sir James, I cannot poſſibly think of ſpeaking to you upon this ſubject before a third perſon; I therefore muſt requeſt that this Lady may be ſhewn into another apartment.
Madame Dupont roſe with the moſt diſdainful air, rung the bell, and ſaid, ſhe thought I might gueſs that there were no ſecrets now between Sir James and [Page 219] her, but that ſhe ſhould, however, comply with my ill-bred requeſt.
Upon the waiter's entrance, he told her there was not a vacant room in the houſe, but that there was an elderly lady in the next, who had been confined there about three weeks, and ſhe might, if ſhe pleaſed, walk in there.
She tripped out with the waiter, and in a very few minutes we heard her utter a loud ſcream.—I ruſhed out to ſee what was the occaſion of it, when I beheld Lady Morton's venerable figure bending over her unworthy daughter, and heard her ſay, My child! you are come at laſt.—Madame Dupont turned from her, and with a look of indignation, ſaid to me, I ſuppoſe this is your ſcheme, Sir William.
[Page 220] The good old Lady gazed in ſilence at us both, the tears faſt falling down her pallid cheek.—I addreſſed her with the utmoſt reſpect, and told her, I was ſincerely ſorry to ſee her in a place ſo ill betfiting her rank and worth—She calmly anſwered, I can't feel ſorrow in Maria's preſence, if love and duty bring her to this place.—I thought thoſe words muſt neceſſarily affect her daughter deeply, and bowing, retired from the chamber.
When I returned to Sir James, I acquainted him with the interview I had been witneſs to.—He ſeemed much ſurpriſed, and ſaid, It cannot be; Lady Morton is at her nephew's houſe in Shropſhire; Madame Dupont aſſured me ſhe was there.—I was charmed at his diſcovering this inſtance of her falſhood and inhumanity, but could not expatiate long on the ſubject, as I was impatient [Page 221] to acquaint him with Lady Deſmond's ſituation.—He was affected, even to tears, at my relation, but ſaid it was impoſſible he could ever ſee her more.—I told him, if he perſiſted in this reſolution, it was almoſt certain that his wife would never ſee another morning, and that not only the whole world, but his own heart muſt tell him he had murdered her.
He ſtarted wildly at theſe words, and ſtruck his breaſt—Then ſaid, You know it is impoſſible, Sir William, I cannot if I would, go ſee my injured Emma.—That villain Sewell has undone us all, 'tis at his ſuit I am here.
I replied, moſt willingly do I forgive his villainy, ſince he has detained you for the happy purpoſe of ſaving Lady Deſmond's life, and your own character; but do not waver any longer; come [Page 222] with me this moment, or we may be too late, I will be anſwerable to the bailiff for Sewell's claim, let it be what it may.
Sir James again repeated, It is impoſſible—I can't forſake Maria, ſhe has left all for me.—She never can return to her huſband, and I will not abandon her to want and infamy.—Emma has virtue and religion to ſupport my loſs, and all who know, love and eſteem her; I am the only man on earth that would forſake her, but ſhe has better friends than ſuch a wretch as me.
Long was our argument before I could prevail, but he at length conſented to throw himſelf at Lady Deſmond's feet, and if ſhe received him, as the returning prodigal, to remain with her till ſhe was able to go abroad with him, if it ſhould be her choice; but [Page 223] that on no account would he remain in England a bankrupt and a beggar.—But the chief point he inſiſted upon, was, that if he gave up Madame Dupont, ſhe ſhould be taken care of out of the wreck of his fortunes, and not be ſuffered to know diſtreſs on his account, but have ſome competent annuity ſettled upon her for her ſupport.
Nothing but Lady Deſmond's life being at ſtake, could have made me comply with theſe terms; for her ſake I acceded to them all, and ratified the engagement with my honour, provided he would quit the bailiff's houſe without ſeeing his Circe.—He agreed, and ſat down to write a ſhort farewel.
There remained now, I imagined, nothing to be done, but to paſs a ſecurity to the bailiff for Sewell's demand, which was fifteen hundred pounds, and carry Sir [Page 224] directly to his own houſe—But to my great concern and ſurprize, I found that there were already writs and executions, upon ſundry notes and bonds, lodged in the bailiff's hand, to the amount of twelve thouſand pounds, and that he would by no means conſent to enlarge his priſoner till theſe debts were diſcharged.—Had I been in poſſeſſion of ſo large a ſum, and would have laid it down, that would not have procured Sir James's releaſe at that time, as it was Saturday night, the ſheriff's office was ſhut, and the governor of this enchanted caſtle would not ſuffer his gueſt to depart 'till every form of law was fulfilled.
I had no reſource left but an applicacation to the bailiff's humanity, by acquainting him with Lady Deſmond's ſituation, and offering to be ſecurity for Sir James's forth-coming on Monday morning.—The man pauſed for ſome [Page 225] time; then ſaid, So, the madam that came here with his honour, is not his wife—Theſe are bad doings, and ſhe ſhall walk out of my houſe directly—and if ſo be, that your honour will get another perſon to be ſecurity with you, the gentleman ſhall go and ſee his ſick lady, for I never was hard-hearted in my life.
I immediately ſent to my friend Mr. Drummond, who, at my requeſt, became reſponſible with me for Sir James's appearance.—I then ordered a chair to be in readineſs to convey Madame Dupont where ſhe thought proper, as ſoon as we were gone out of the houſe.—I got Sir James into my carriage, and drove as hard as poſſible to Charlesſtreet.
In our way, I inquired how his friend Sewell had been ſo far irritated againſt [Page 226] him as to arreſt him, without giving him the leaſt previous notice of his intention? he told me, that he had diſcovered his deſign of eloping with Madame Dupont, by a note which ſhe had dropped, in which the time and place of their ſetting out was fixed; for, at the very ſpot, which was in Park-lane, and on the inſtant of their meeting, the bailiffs ſeized him.—He called Sewell a thouſand opprobrious names, and ſwore his blood ſhould expiate his villainy.—Yet, at the ſame time, he ſaid, he rejoiced in his being detained, if his preſence could relieve one pang of Lady Deſmond's; but he was certain ſhe muſt feel more ſorrow from ſeeing him languiſh out his life in a priſon, as he muſt probably do upon his being ſurrendered back into cuſtody again, than ſhe would have known from his leaving her.
[Page 227] As we drew near Berkeley-ſquare he became extremely agitated, and talked and looked as if he was diſtracted.—I was ſenſible of a mixed ſenſation towards him, compounded of compaſſion and contempt, and felt very uneaſy apprehenſions for the conſequences of the interview between him and our dear Emma.—He entered his houſe like a culprit, without even daring to enquire into the ſtate of his wife's health. When I went up ſtairs, I found ſhe was in bed, and that her fainting fits had ſubſided about half an hour, that ſhe was perfectly ſenſible, though ſpeechleſs, and that her tears flowed abundantly.
When I approached the bed-ſide, ſhe caſt a look, expreſſive of the moſt anxious inquiry, towards me, to which I immediately replied, He waits but your permiſſion to throw himſelf at his [Page 228] loved Emma's feet.—She raiſed herſelf with an amazing quickneſs, and opened wide her arms, but inſtantly ſunk back, and fainted quite away.
While the perſons about her were uſing means for her recovery, I brought Sir James into the room; he knelt by her bedſide and wept: the moment her ſenſes returned, ſhe gazed upon him with a look of tenderneſs, caught up his hand, and preſſed it to her lips, and with a ſcarcely articulate voice, ſaid, You will not leave me?—He replied, Never, by heaven, my love! and claſped her in his arms.—Her joy became too powerful, and ſhe again relapſed into a ſtate of weakneſs.
I forced Sir James out of the chamber, and never yet ſaw any perſon ſo ſtrongly affected as he appeared to be; he called himſelf a murderer, ſaid he [Page 229] had never known how tenderly he loved his wife till that ſad hour, vowed if ſhe died, he would deſtroy himſelf, and doubted the poſſibility of her forgiving him.—Yet, in the midſt of all his fond emotions, he lamented the unhappy ſituation in which he had involved Madame Dupont; but fortunately he has ſince received a letter from her, which has entirely relieved his apprehenſions for her, and contributed more effectually to the reſtoration of his affections, where they were juſtly due, than any other circumſtance could poſſibly have done.
In this letter ſhe loaded him with the moſt opprobrious terms, and added the epithet of mean, or poor ſpirited, to them all; thanked heaven for being releaſed from a wretch who was contemptible enough to return home, and aſk forgiveneſs of his wife—Said, her ſpirit could never brook ſuch meanneſs, [Page 230] and that therefore ſhe had ſought, and found protection, in the arms of a man every way his ſuperior, who was neither a bankrupt in honour, in fortune, or in love.—She aſſured him of her ſincere deteſtation, and deſired, if his wife's relations ſhould be weak enough to truſt him with his liberty, that he ſhould avoid hers and Lord Somners preſence.
Sir James was almoſt petrified at the peruſal of this extraordinary epiſtle; but upon recollection, ſaid he felt himſelf relieved from a weight which only ſuch behaviour could ever have removed, as ſhe had art ſufficient to perſuade him, that the violence of her paſſion for him alone could have prevailed on her to ſwerve from virtue; but he was now convinced that it was her averſion to the ſober duties of a married life that had occaſioned her miſconduct. He however reproached himſelf ſeverely as the prime [Page 231] cauſe of her crimes and follies, which he ſaid he ſhould repent of, along with his own, to the laſt hour of his life.
A new cauſe of diſtreſs now occurred; Lady Deſmond was ſeized with labour pains; I left Lucy with her, and brought Sir James to my houſe; yeſterday morning ſhe was delivered of a ſon, who, tho' born two months before his time, is likely to live, and ſhe, thank heaven, is in a fair way of recovery.
This morning I accompanied the penitent baronet back to his priſon in Carey-ſtreet, where he ſaid he ſhould be content to paſs his days, provided Emma could be made happy. I find, upon enquiry, that moſt of his debts are of the ſame nature of Sewell's demand, from whom he did not receive above five hundred for the bond of fifteen.—Theſe [Page 232] matters muſt be litigated, and the ſcoundrels who have cheated him expoſed.
I again repeat my wiſh for your return to London; your preſence will diffuſe tranquility and joy amongſt us all—But let we warn you, my dear Charles, againſt being too rigidly virtuous; the baronet is truly penitent—
And in ſooth ſo humbled,That he hath left part of his griefWith me, to ſuffer with him.
With ſincere concern I tell you, that my dear Lucy has for ſome time paſt entirely loſt her chearfulneſs and vivacity; ſhe has received a long letter, or rather hiſtory, from Lady Juliana Harley, which ſhe ſays ſhe cannot communicate even to me—She ſhuts herſelf up for hours to read this doleful tale, and comes out of her dreſſing room, with her eyes ſwoln with tears.—Thank heaven! the woes ſhe weeps are not her own.
Your's, W. STANLEY.
HOW could you, my dear Stanley, make me ſuffer, through the long detail of your letter, by not at firſt acquainting me that Emma's life was ſafe? Every paragraph I read made me tremble for the next, as I expected it to contain the period of her life and ſufferings.—Unhappy, much loved ſiſter! I fear they will not ſeparately end.
Notwithſtanding your caution, I feel the ſtrongeſt indignation againſt Sir [Page 235] James Deſmond, and pay but little regard to his mere attrition, for ſuch I conſider his preſent ſtate of humiliation.
There is no palliation for his miſconduct but the weakneſs of his underſtanding—What a tottering foundation to build any permanent hope upon? Experience may make fools cunning, but nothing can make them wiſe; and his reigning vice is of ſuch a nature, that men of the beſt ſenſe, once infected with it, find it difficult to get the better of.
How do I lament that Emma's happineſs is bound in his, and that he ſhould ignorantly poſſeſs a treaſure ‘richer than all his tribe.’ I have not your calmneſs Stanley, and cannot think with patience of his caſting ſuch a pearl away—But Emma muſt be made happy, and if [Page 236] my whole fortune can effect that purpoſe, it will be well beſtowed.
That wretched ſcoundrel, Sewell, who is now here, and whom I ſent for as ſoon as I had read your letter, has offered to reduce his demand to the ſum of five hundred pounds, which he lent Sir James, out of the money he had cheated him of, provided he is not expoſed; but I refuſed any terms of accommodation with him, threatened him with a proſecution, and have publicly proclaimed him a cheat.
I perfectly recollect your antipathy, and my ſympathy towards this man; your preſentiment, tho' ſince proved more juſt, had leſs foundation than mine, which aroſe from an open, chearful countenance, that has always appeared to me the index of an honeſt heart; for I ſhall never read raſcal in any [Page 237] man's countenance, till his actions have rendered the characters legible—Tho' it ſeems that, as Hamlet ſays, ‘A man may ſmile, and ſmile, and be a villain.’
I muſt neceſſarily be detained here ſome days longer, as I have promiſed to ſtay with Mr. and Mrs. Harriſon till they are ready to ſet out for the Continent; but had I no engagement, I ſhould not wiſh to meet Sir James Deſmond, till my reſentment towards him is ſomewhat abated. I alſo think that Emma muſt as yet be in too weak a ſtate to bear even the ſlight emotion which might ariſe from ſeeing me after ſuch an incident. In the mean time I intreat you to uſe every poſſible means of ſettling Sir James Deſmond's affairs, and for that purpoſe encloſe you an unlimited letter of credit on my banker. The firſt uſe I deſire you to make of it [Page 238] is to releaſe Lady Morton from her confinement. I cannot expreſs what I felt at your deſcription of the interview between her and her unnatural daughter, whoſe infamous conduct has brought her mother's ſilver hairs, with ſorrow to the grave.—Though this expreſſion be a common one, it can never ceaſe to be affecting.
Do not be offended with me, Stanley, for ſaying that I am not ſorry Lucy's feelings ſhould be augmented, even at the expence of her vivacity.—Tenderneſs ſtands ſecond in the catalogue of female charms: modeſty is its only antecedent, and always its companion; they are both derived from the ſame ſource, from ſenſibility; and thoſe ſoft drops, which pity has engendered, add infinitely more luſtre to the ſpeaking eye, than all the jewels that ever iſſued from Golconda's mines, or blazed around a diadem.
[Page 239] But think what I myſelf muſt ſuffer, when you ſay that Lucy's tears flow for Lady Juliana's ſorrow! Why am I ever doomed to be unhappy from the miſeries of thoſe that are moſt dear to me? There is a fatal influence attends my love, which equals the malignity ariſing from another perſon's hate.
Your's, moſt truly, C. EVELYN.
MY dear Shanaſy—I muſt abbreviate your horrid name—I am extremely glad you are returned to this delightful metropolis, which I was near quitting upon a very fooliſh errand.—That worthleſs wretch, Sir James Deſmond, is a greater deceiver than even your baronet—But I hope his wife will turn termagant, ſince he has bowed to the diſtaff, and revenge my quarrel.—Luckily I had more [Page 241] ſpirit than my contemptible lover; for having once broken ground, I did not chuſe to return to my huſband, and cry pray, pray, for forgiveneſs.
I am now extremely happy in the friendly protection of Lord Somners—I hear poor Dupont is almoſt diſtracted at my loſs, and has commenced a ſuit in Doctor's Commons, in order to obtain a divorce.—I ſhall not oppoſe his inclination, for I have no doubt, if it takes place, that I ſhall obtain the title of Lady, inſtead of Madame.—But ſhould I even be diſappointed in this expectation, one bleſſing I am ſure of—that of being free.
Dupont's fortune was too confined for my inclinations, and [...]he would by no means conſent to my endeavouring to increaſe it by play, or any other of the polite moyens de vivre. Poor ſimpleton! [Page 242] he went into the country to find out a proper place for us to retire to, where we might live ſoberly, within our income; but I had no idea of being buried alive at five and twenty, and therefore did not chuſe to wait his return.
Though you have, as you ſay, been pillaged, I aſſure you that you may make a very tolerable figure upon your ten thouſand; for I know many women in this town, who have not the tenth part of the money, who keep good company, and play at gold loo every night.—There lies the whole ſecret, my dear; and if I ſhould be ſo lucky as to become Lady Somners, I will take care to introduce you into proper ſetts for the purpoſe.
Keep up your ſpirits, I deſire you, and come to me this evening—I don't care to go much abroad in my preſent ſituation, and ſhall be glad of an agreeable [Page 243] female friend to join our little party. On your account we ſhall not play high to-night; ſo that if you put fifty pieces in your card-purſe, for I dare ſay you have not a pam-box, they will probably be ſufficient.—Rely upon my friendſhip, and believe me ſincerely
Your's, M. DUPONT.
I AM perſuaded that a line from me will give you pleaſure, as it will be a more convincing proof of my recovery than any other that you can at this diſtance receive—Yes, my moſt generous, and beſt of brothers! your Emma is again reſtored to health and happineſs, and at this hour more bleſſed, than if ſhe had never taſted ſorrow.
[Page 245] My huſband's tenderneſs and virtue are now eſtabliſhed on a ſolid baſe—He ſees his errors, and ſure that is ſufficient to prevent his ever falling into them again—But he does more, he feelingly repents them—His ſorrow is ſincere, it flows from love for me, and for our children, as well as from contrition.—He regards not his own ſufferings, but cannot bear the thought of my partaking them; he ſtrives to conceal the anguiſh of his mind from me, and would rather it ſhould ſtill prey upon his heart, than be alleviated by the ſympathy of mine.
But I will watch over his dejected ſpirit, will pour the balm of tenderneſs upon his reclaimed heart, and ſpeak of comfort to my afflicted mourner. Theſe are the offices of virtuous love, the real proofs of conjugal affection; and moſt [Page 246] ſupremely happy do I think myſelf in being called to this delightful taſk.
We never know our ſtrength till it is tried; our virtues and our paſſions all lie dormant, unleſs occaſion calls them forth. Bred up in eaſe and affluence, a life of poverty appeared to me a ſtate of miſery; the idea was deluſive, and is vaniſhed.—Can I regret the pomp of dreſs and equipage, when put in competition with my huſband's love? While I poſſeſſed them, did they make me happy? Too truly I can anſwer, they did not—And are not millions ſo, who never have enjoyed them?
To this you may reply—There is a wide diſtinction between privation and deprivation; thoſe who have never known the elegancies of life can eaſily ſupport the wants they ſcarcely feel; but by habit they become neceſſary to thoſe [Page 247] who have long enjoyed them—But what is virtue, Charles? Is it not ſtrength of mind to conquer habit, or elſe an empty name? I wiſh to expreſs myſelf as ſtrongly as poſſible upon this ſubject, to relieve your apprehenſions for my happineſs, which I am well convinced is totally independent of the goods of fortune.
Sir James, who is ſenſible of the moſt lively gratitude for your more than brotherly affection, is reſolved to be no farther burthenſome to your generoſity—His debts, my brother Stanley ſays, may be compounded for about five thouſand pounds.—The ſale of our houſe, jewels, plate, and other effects, will probably amount to more than this ſum, and there is ſtill a little eſtate left of about three hundred pounds a year.—With this, in many parts of the world, we ſhall be rich; but in any part of it we ſhall be more than rich, we ſhall be happy.
[Page 248] I have not yet mentioned your new relation, my little Charles; he was called after you by his father's particular deſire, his mother not oppoſing—He thrives apace, and my ſweet Fanny grows almoſt an angel—Think you I would exchange theſe treaſures for Potoſi's mines.
DEAR Stanley, I have by this poſt received a letter from Lady Deſmond, which has affected me almoſt as much as your account of her diſtreſs, though the emotion I felt was of a different kind.—I am charmed with the virtue and good ſenſe ſhe poſſeſſes in her preſent unhappy ſituation, and my affection is encreaſed by my eſteem for her worth.
[Page 250] I begin alſo to be ſenſible of a kind of ſympathy towards Sir James, from the ſpirit he has ſhewn in rejecting my proffered aſſiſtance, at a time when he ſtandſo much in need of it.—I could not have avoided thinking meanly of him, if he had condeſcended to accept of a ſupport from an injured wife.—The ſpirit of independence is natural to men; from thence ariſes the only juſtifiable reaſon that can be aſſigned for the dominion they aſſume over the other ſex; and whenever they relinquiſh the power of aſſiſting themſelves,‘Houſewives ſhould make a ſkillet of their helms.’
This kind of argument might appear to any one who did not know me as meant for a ſalvo to myſelf, on having altered my intentions towards Emma and her family—On the contrary, my attachment [Page 251] to her happineſs and intereſt is ſtronger, at this moment, than it has ever been; though I rejoice at finding that ſhe will have leſs occaſion for pecuniary aſſiſtance than either ſhe or her huſband apprehend at preſent.
For this information I am indebted to Sewell, who, though undoubtedly a knave, is willing to make a merit of diſcloſing the villainy of others, provided his own may go unpuniſhed.—On theſe terms he has offered to make very material diſcoveries, and I have promiſed to ſecure him from any legal inflictions, leaving him to be puniſhed only with the loſs of character, and the ſtings of his own conſcience.
Our King's evidence then has laid open a moſt complicated ſcene of wickedneſs, and is ready to prove that the Jew, who bought the eſtate on which Emma's [Page 252] jointure of five hundred pounds a year was ſettled, the power over which unluckily devolved to her, by my having neglected to adminiſter to my brother, who was her ſole truſtee, did not pay in ſterling caſh above ſix thouſand for it, though the bargain was made for fifteen thouſand, which was much under the real value; but, in lieu of money, made Sir James accept of old goods and chattels, which, when ſold, did not produce above eight hundred pounds. As this raſcally uſurer, who by the way is only a Jew in his dealings, has amaſſed a noble fortune by his villainy, I ſhall have infinite pleaſure, not only in making him refund his infamous purchaſe, but in expoſing him to the contempt he deſerves.
O heaven, that ſuch companions ſhou'dſt unfold,And put in every honeſt hand a whip,To laſh the raſcal naked thro' the world,Even from Eaſt to Weſt!
[Page 253] I encloſe you the heads of a bill, which I requeſt you will get immediately filed againſt that wretch of an uſurer.—I ſhall be in town in a very few days to proſecute the ſuit; in the mean time I inſiſt upon it, that Sir James Deſmond ſhall not part with his houſe, or any thing elſe that he poſſeſſes; for I have no doubt of being able to re-eſtabliſh his fortune upon a better foundation than it has been for a conſiderable time paſt.
And if he has, as Emma ſays, ſeen his errors in a true light, I will endeavour to hope that their happineſs may be as permanent as their lives; at leaſt, I ſhall take care that nothing on my part ſhall be wanting to enſure it, for it is only from the happineſs of others that I can hence forward derive my own, the proſpect of bliſs in a direct line being for ever barred from my hopes.—All thoſe fond ſchemes, relative to myſelf, which [Page 254] youthful fancy once had formed, are now blaſted; and in adopted children only, ſhall I look for heirs.
When I come amongſt you, I flatter myſelf you will be a little more communicative than you have hitherto been, with regard to Lady Juliana's ſituation; be it what it may, my warmeſt wiſhes for her happineſs for ever ſhall attend her.
My very worthy friends, the Harriſons, ſet out from hence for Dover on Tueſday next—Miſs Harriſon has conſented to give her hand to Mr. Stuart, the gentleman I mentioned before as her lover, as ſoon as they arrive at a proper place on the Continent—Her delicacy would not permit her to be married here, as the ſcene would too ſtrongly recall to her mind the imprudent ſtep ſhe was ſo near having taken with Captain Williams.
[Page 255] I ſhall hope for the happineſs of ſeeing you and all my ſiſters in perfect health on Wedneſday evening—I moſt ſincerely long to embrace ye all—Nor ſhall the repentant Sir James Deſmond be excluded from his ſhare of that brotherly affection, with which I am moſt truly
Your's, C. EVELYN.
MY dear 'Shanacy, I am utterly undone, and have no refuge but your friendſhip to fly to.—You know that Monſieur Dupont has obtained a divorce, and of courſe I am for ever barred from any claim to his aſſiſtance or ſupport.—Wretch that I am! Why did I forſake the beſt and worthieſt of men? But repentance on this ſubject is now too late—and I ſhall not take up your time with unavailing lamentations.
[Page 257] While the ſuir was depending, I did not perceive the leaſt abatement in Lord Somners fondneſs for me; but as ſoon as the affair was determined, I affected to grow extremely melancholy, and more than hinted, that nothing but a matrimonial connection with him could reſtore my happineſs.—He conſtantly waived the ſubject whenever it was mentioned, and I began to think I had better appear to be ſatisfied with my ſituation, than riſk a quarrel that might poſſibly end in ſeparation, and truſt to my charms and blandiſhments to effect my purpoſe at ſome future time.
The artful monſter took advantage of my apparent fondneſs, and one evening, that we unfortunately talked of that bane to my happineſs, your deteſted ſiſter-in-law, he drew me in ſo far, as to confeſs that my hatred to her aroſe from my love to him, and that I had [Page 258] traduced her character merely to prevent his marrying her.
This, you know, was a falſhood, for it was more to gratify you than myſelf, that I at that time unjuſtly cenſured her. However, I flattered myſelf, that as he ſeemed to have entirely forgotten her, he would only think of the affair in the light I wiſhed, and receive the calumny as a proof of my love.
But it turned out, alas! quite otherways.—My cunning overſhot the mark.—His pride appeared to be hurt at being deceived, and he wrote a letter directly to Lady Juliana's brother, Lord R—, who was in Scotland, acquainting him with the means by which he had been impoſed on, and intreating his and his ſiſter's forgiveneſs.
[Page 259] This huff-gruff don of a nobleman, arrived in town yeſterday, and came directly to our houſe; Lord Somners was at home, and I could hear enough of their converſation, to diſcover that there was a very warm altercation between them.—I trembled like an aſpin leaf, curſed my own folly for having betrayed myſelf, and when Lord Somners came into my dreſſing-room, I was as pale as death, and looked like a culprit that expected ſentence to be pronounced againſt him.
The inſenſible barbarian, Somners, appeared perfectly compoſed, and with the utmoſt ſang froid, ſaid, he was very ſorry to be under a neceſſity of informing me, that he could not have the honour of my company any longer under his roof, for that Lord R—had inſiſted on his abandoning the woman who had [Page 260] injured and villified the ſpotleſs character of his ſiſter.
Though I was ſhocked almoſt to death at his indifference, I muſtered up courage enough to tell him, that I could not ſuppoſe him to be ſuch a mean ſpirited wretch, as to give up a woman who had ſacrificed every thing to him, to ſave himſelf from Lord R—'s reſentment.—He replied, that this was by no means the caſe on either ſide, for he thought it but a flight compenſation for the injuries he had done an amiable and virtuous woman, to give up one, who had made the ſacrifice ſhe boaſted, to Sir James Deſmond at leaſt, if not to others.
I grew outrageous at his inſolence, but my fury had no effect upon his impenetrable head or heart.—He certainly never loved me. He took out of his [Page 261] pocket-book a bill for five hundred, and left it on the table, ſaying, he hoped that ſum would provide for me 'till I had formed a more laſting connection, and bowing, left me.
I now propoſe, my dear Shanacy, that you and I ſhould ſet out together for Brighthelmſtone, Southampton, Scarborough, or any other public rendezvous of the gay and idle, where I hope ſoon to repair the errors I have fallen into, by drawing ſome young man of fortune into the matrimonial nooſe.—Your title and appearance will be of infinite ſervice to me on this occaſion, and the ſooner this ſcheme is put in practice the better.
REALLY, Miſs Morton, I am quite aſtoniſhed at your aſſurance, and were it not to prevent your coming, or ſending your trunks to me, I ſhould take no notice of your extraordinary letter. How could you ever preſume that I would appear in public with a woman that has been divorced from her huſband, and lived as a kept miſtreſs with another man? Let me tell you, Madam, [Page 264] you are extremely miſtaken in my character.
'Tis true, that on my firſt coming to London, being very low ſpirited, and having no acquaintance in town, I did condeſcend to ſup with you two or three times in private, and I think I paid pretty handſomely for my entertainment.—Beſides you were not then divorced, and I might in charity ſuppoſe, that your connection with Lord Somners was perfectly innocent.—But the matter is much too clear at preſent for Lady O'Shaughnaſy to be ſeen with Miſs Morton.—How could I, with any face, upbraid my huſband for keeping an infamous woman, if I ſhould become the companion of ſuch a one myſelf?
And as to your making a merit to me of your traducing Lady Juliana's character, you know full well, that it was to [Page 265] gratify your own ſpleen and jealouſy againſt her, for having deprived you of your fancied conqueſt, Mr. Evelyn.—But in truth, Miſs Morton, though I do not wiſh to mortify you at preſent, I am certain he never did, or could like you—But nothing can conquer ſome people's vanity.
I have been informed that Sir John O'Shaughnaſy is at Scarborough.—It is my duty to follow him there, and I have no doubt of recovering his affections.—I mention this circumſtance in order to prevent your bending your courſe that way, as I ſhould be ſorry to be obliged to treat a perſon with contempt, for whom I once had a ſmall portion of regard; and for this reaſon I hope you will henceforth avoid any further intercourſe with
DRIED be my Lucy's tears, and may each trace of ſorrow, ſhe has ever felt for her unhappy friend, vaniſh at the receipt of this, like morning dews before the riſing ſun! No cauſe remains for Lucy now to weep, her ſiſter Magdalen * is well and happy.
[Page 267] Your letter was the harbinger of peace; I could no longer doubt of heaven's forgiveneſs, when a frail mortal, like myſelf, looked with compaſſion on my ſufferings, and thought they had atoned for all my faults. Hope, once again, illumined my ſad mind, and ſtilled the beating of my anxious heart.—I dared to make my vows—From that bleſſed hour no pang has harrowed up my ſoul, no burſts of grief have ſince deformed my face—Though the ſoft drops of penitence ſincere will never ceaſe to flow.
Yes, Lucy, I believe that I could bear to ſee you now, and meet your looks with firmneſs; yet, for your ſake, I would poſtpone the interview, 'till uſe has made the idea of our ſeparation more eaſy to your friendly heart.—Yet let me not turn boaſter, perhaps your preſence [Page 268] might recal ideas that ſhould be ever baniſhed from my mind; then do not riſk my preſent tranquility, but ſtrive to wean yourſelf from the affection which you long have borne me, and think of me as a departed friend.
To complete my earthly happineſs, I have received a letter from my brother, filled with the tendereſt acknowledgments of what he calls the unlucky error, that had led him to behave unkindly to me, and the moſt earneſt entreaties to return and paſs my days with him without controul.—Bleſt be the power of truth that has relieved his mind from the indignant, yet humiliating ſenſation, that muſt ariſe from the diſhonour of a ſiſter.
For my own part I never felt reſentment to my foes, and only grieved for [Page 269] what my brother ſuffered. I am indebted to their malice, Lucy.—They meant to ſting my heart, but have procured its peace.—May penitence for the intended miſchief aſſuage their own remorſe.
I am infinitely indebted to the amiable ſuperior of our convent for many indulgencies—She knew and loved my mother, and has transferred that kindneſs to your friend.—From this cauſe, were there no other, I ſhould be pleaſed with her ſociety; but ſhe is ſenſible, as well as good.
I mention this little circumſtance to render you more eaſy at my ſecluſion from a world which has to me moſt ſurely been a world of woe.—May every happineſs it can afford await my tender friend and may we meet again in that [Page 270] bleſſed place, ‘where every tear is wiped from every eye,’ to part no more.
ST. MARY MAGDALEN.