The fair Hibernian: In two volumes. ... [pt.1]

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THE FAIR HIBERNIAN.

VOL. 1.

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THE FAIR HIBERNIAN.

What Ignorance ſhall think, or Malice ſay,
To me are Trifles,—if the knowing few,
Who can ſee Faults, but can ſee Beauties too,
Applaud that Genius which themſelves partake.

IN TWO VOLUMES. VOLUME THE FIRST.

LONDON: PRINTED BY JOHN CROWDER, FOR G. G. J. AND J. ROBINSON, PATER-NOSTER-ROW. M,DCC,LXXXIX.

1. THE FAIR HIBERNIAN.

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YOU make me happy, by ſaying that my letters afford you comfort. How often have I been on the point of throwing them in the fire, leſt their gaiety ſhould ſeem to impeach my ſenſibility of your misfortunes. If I have conſoled you, I believe it was by not attempting to offer you conſolation. [Page 2] I have not, with the cruel inſolence of cold philoſophy, pretended to aſſign reaſons why you ſhould not grieve for the loſs of an amiable huſband; firſt alienated by cauſeleſs jealouſy, and then ſnatched away by an early and untimely death! My dear ſiſter, I have left you to reaſon—I have left you to Heaven! You know as well as I, that grief is unavailing, that it ought to be ſtruggled with; and I am ſure you do ſtruggle; but, alas! the feelings of the heart are not always obedient to the dictates of reaſon: or why cannot I conquer a hopeleſs paſſion? Why does my heart revolt againſt the friendſhip I have vowed to Valeria O'Bryen? a friendſhip, ſhe in no way deſerves to forfeit. True, ſhe has deeply injured me; but 'twas without deſign. She knew not that I loved St. Clair, and, O pride forbid that ſhe ever ſhould know it.

You ſay, very juſtly, ‘If the marquis de St. Clair once loved you, you ought now to deſpiſe him for his inconſtancy: if he never loved you, he never ought to enter your thoughts.’ Very true, Harriet; very true. But did I ever tell you that I [Page 3] believed I did right to love him? No, I am ſenſible of the folly of my attachment; yet cannot even reſolve to overcome it. I am not accuſtomed to reſtrain my paſſions. From the time I came under the care of my uncle and aunt de Villemar, to this moment, I have not been uſed to the leaſt contradiction. It appears ungenerous—perhaps, in this caſe, it is ungrateful—to plead the faults of others as an excuſe for my own; but I cannot help thinking I ſhould have had more firmneſs of mind, and more command over my paſſions, if I had been educated leſs tenderly.

You reprove me for mentioning people you never heard of, as familiarly as if I thought you acquainted with them: and then you aſk—ſhall I ſay, you have the cruelty to aſk—Who is this Miſs O'Bryen? and who is Lady Enmore? I ſuppoſe you expect to have your queſtions anſwered. Well, I will gratify you. Let us proceed methodically: I know you love method.

When I was in the country laſt ſummer, Lady Enmore, her daughter, and Miſs O'Bryen, arrived here from Ireland.

[Page 4] Lady Enmore, who it ſeems paſſed the greater part of her youth in France, was formerly an acquaintance of my aunt's; and on my return to town I found them extremely intimate.

Her ladyſhip ſeems to be about fifty, and is a genteel, pleaſing woman.

Lady Mary Enmore is an ill-natured, envious, ugly, deformed little creature: accompliſhed, ſenſible, and ſhrewd; but intolerably ſelf-ſufficient.

Miſs O'Bryen is—I muſt confeſs ſhe is— the fineſt woman I ever ſaw. La belle Irlandoiſe! the men here call her.

Her father was an Iriſh baronet; who being on a viſit to ſome friends in England, in the neighbourhood of one of the Duke of Granville's country ſeats, fell in love with Lady Charlotte Sedley, only daughter to his Grace. Sir William was handſome, wild, and profuſe; qualities which too often engage our thoughtleſs ſex. He ſoon inſinuated himſelf into Lady Charlotte's affections. Her father, however, rejected his propoſals with an irritating haughtineſs. [Page 5] Though gay and thoughtleſs, he was proud to exceſs; and could ill ſupport treatment he thought ſo injurious. Provoking expreſſions enſued on both ſides. The Duke forbade him his houſe, and commanded his daughter never to ſee him more.

Lady Charlotte, divided between love and duty, yielded—as is, perhaps, generally the caſe in ſuch conflicts—to love! and fled to Ireland with Sir William.

After her marriage, ſhe made many ineffectual attempts to reconcile herſelf to her family. She had no mother to plead for her; and her father was ſo ſevere as even to forbid her only brother, Lord Cariſbrook, to hold any correſpondence with her.

Valeria O'Bryen, the ſole offspring of this marriage, was left an orphan, at ſeventeen. Her parents died within a ſhort time of each other; leaving her tenderly and liberally educated, accuſtomed to elegance and profuſion, without any other dependance than the friendſhip of Mrs. Chetwynd, Sir William's ſiſter, who is married to a clergyman. However, as they are very worthy [Page 6] people, and, fortunately for her, have no children of their own, ſhe probably has not much reaſon to be diſſatisfied at her lot. With them ſhe has lived about three years, and is come here merely for amuſement, with Lady Enmore, who is Mrs. Chetwynd's very particular friend.

Her ladyſhip has ſhewn her friendſhip very much, at the expence of her diſcretion, in providing ſuch a companion for her daughter. I imagine, that if Lady Mary had been left to herſelf, ſhe would not have made ſo imprudent a choice. Yet if ſhe has not, like me, had every fondly-cheriſhed hope blaſted by the charms of this fatal O'Bryen, I know not how ſhe can ſhut her heart againſt ſuch an amiable diſpoſition! ſuch ſeducing manners!

Ever ſuperior to envy, I ſoon diſtinguiſhed her. I ſought her for my friend. Fool that I was! I could not live without her. It was at the hotel de Villemar, ſhe was firſt ſeen by St. Clair.

I tire you, my Harriet. I will quit this ſubject; but I cannot write on any other. I know not what is become of all thoſe [Page 7] agreeable nothings, that uſed to preſent themſelves to my imagination with ſo much facility. Adieu.

Ever your affectionate, LEONORA MARCHMONT.

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YES, you are in the right, my dear Mrs. Chetwynd; your Valeria has—

‘"Set the world on fire!"’

The ringlets that ſhade her ſnowy forehead, are not ſo numerous as the ſighing ſwains that compoſe her train;

"While her high pride does ſcarce deſcend
"To mark their follies.

Seriouſly, my dear Caroline, this lovely creature. although ſhe has not an atom of vanity, is rather too lofty. Allow me to ſay, that ſhe has rather too much of her father in her diſpoſition. She has lately refuſed two very advantageous matches: her objections, which I took the liberty to aſk, were quite frivolous and romantic. This minute, I expatiate on the enjoyments of a ſplendid fortune; the next, I threaten her with willow garlands, leading apes, &c. but all to no purpoſe; ſhe ſmiles, equally [Page 9] unmoved, at both pleas. However, I am not without hopes that the marquis de St. Clair will, in time, find means to warm her icy heart. She ſeems already to prefer him to all his competitors. I have exerted my utmoſt influence in his favour; but all I could obtain for him, was a promiſe of not immediately refuſing him.

I told the marquis I ſhould write to Miſs O'Bryen's friends: and I ventured to aſſure him, he would find them his zealous advocates.

Now, I earneſtly recommend it to you, to write immediately, and ſtrongly, to your niece on this ſubject. She cannot make one reaſonable objection to St. Clair. He bears an univerſal good character; he is polite, handſome, very rich, and of a noble extraction.

If this marriage takes place, you may leave every thing to my management; and depend upon my acting for your Valeria, as I ſhould for my own daughter.

Your very ſincere friend, MATILDA ENMORE.

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I HAVE great obligations to you, my dear friend, for your care of my lovely child. I have written to her, according to your deſire; as ſtrongly too, as I thought I ought. Your ladyſhip muſt be ſenſible there would be an indelicacy in my urging her to marry. Would it not ſeem as if I wanted to be freed from my charge? How ſuch a thought would wound her high ſpirit!

I had another reaſon for not preſſing Valeria on this ſubject: the marquis may not be the kind of man with whom ſhe could think herſelf happy. I have the higheſt reſpect for your ladyſhip's judgment: without queſtion you are abundantly capable of diſtinguiſhing an amiable man; but Valeria, herſelf, can alone diſtinguiſh the man in whoſe ſociety ſhe might wiſh to ſpend her life. A man may be worthy, and not pleaſing; he may be pleaſing, and yet want ſomething we cannot diſpenſe with. In [Page 11] ſhort, it is impoſſible to explain the ſecret magic, that draws our affection to one man more than to another; although it is probable even our partial ſelves do not diſcover any extraordinary merit in that dear one. We feel the tout-en-ſemble irreſiſtible, without being able to define the particular charms that attract us. I have often thought that parents do not ſufficiently conſider the importance of this point. When they have provided a young man of a good family, ſuitable fortune, and fair character—truly, nothing more is neceſſary!—and if to theſe advantages he adds a tolerable ſhare of beauty and agreeableneſs, the poor girl is downright perverſe and obſtinate, if ſhe does not immediately fall in love with him. Yet were ſhe to give her heart without their knowledge, to one fifty times more engaging, no reproaches would be thought adequate to her miſconduct. Is not this to ſuppoſe love quite voluntary? when Heaven knows, it is not always in a young perſon's power to preſerve her heart; it never is to beſtow it. For my part, I think thoſe who love improperly, have many excuſes; and [Page 12] thoſe who do not love where they are importuned, want none.

I inſiſt—pardon the peremptorineſs of the expreſſion—I inſiſt upon your leaving my niece entirely to her own direction in the important point before us. O may the only direction ſuperior to her own, be vouchſafed to her! I confeſs to you, I cannot reconcile myſelf to the thought of her being ſettled in France. Both Mr. Chetwynd and I have ſet our hearts upon this girl. Far from repining at our not having children, we are pleaſed at a circumſtance that will enable us to provide the more amply for our darling.

Never, Lady Enmore, never will that ſolemn ſcene be eraſed from my memory, when the dear child was committed to my care by her laſt ſurviving parent.

"My poor Valeria!" ſaid he, gazing on her mournfully, as ſhe knelt, weeping by his bed; ‘My poor child! I have undone you! I have made you a beggar—a dependant! Muſt my daughter deſcend to ſerve upſtart greatneſs for bread?’

[Page 13] "She never ſhall!" ſaid I, with firmneſs.

"Dear Sir William," ſoftly interpoſed my Charles, ‘I beſeech you to be calm. O let no anxious thought for Valeria diſturb the peace of ſuch an hour as this! Be aſſured, that in me ſhe will find a father. Is not Caroline already her mother?’

"My dear, loſt Charlotte!" cried my brother, with a heart-rending ſigh; ‘Loſt, perhaps, to all eternity! I do not deſerve to participate your bliſs. My follies opened an early grave for you! My extravagance has beggared your child!’

‘You have, indeed, been extravagant and unthinking,’ ſaid Mr. Chetwynd. ‘This is not a time to palliate your errors. But I truſt that a merciful Being will not too ſeverely mark a fooliſh prodigality, that brought its puniſhment here. As a huſband, and a father, you were affectionate and indulgent. A ſincere friend —a better brother—’ cried Charles, ſqueezing his hand, "no man ever was."

[Page 14] "Your voice, my dear Chetwynd," replied Sir William, ‘is ever the voice of comfort. As a brother, indeed, I have nothing to reproach myſelf with; not even to the brother, whoſe too great anxiety for what I have valued too little, has ruined my affairs; whoſe unkindneſs, perhaps, has not a little contributed to make that child an orphan.’

"While I live," ſaid I, ſcarely able to ſpeak, "Valeria is not quite an orphan."

‘Give me your hand, my amiable, my beloved Caroline!’ ſaid my dying brother; "and yours, my dear Charles." We each of us put one of our hands in both his. ‘To you, my friends, I leave Valeria— a ſacred truſt!—a bequeſt, of which only minds like yours know the value.’

We gave him the moſt ſolemn aſſurances, that it ſhould be the buſineſs of our lives to protect and cherſh his Valeria.

Mr. Chetwynd raiſed the fainting Valeria in his arms.

"Poor child!" ſaid her father.—I cannot give you an idea of the pathos with which he pronounced that—"Poor child!"

[Page 15] "Caroline," ſaid he, after a pauſe, ‘let her know, as ſhe values my laſt bleſſing, ſhe muſt never accept any thing from the duke of Granville. If I muſt leave my daughter dependant, I have, at leaſt, the conſolation to think ſhe will depend on my own family.

I do not, my dear lady Enmore, defend ſuch reſentful pride at ſuch a time. But he probably called to mind, that the gentle lady Charlotte had often ſaid,—‘Dear Valeria, ſhould you ever ſee my father, on your knees intreat him not to curſe my memory!’—and he feared, not without reaſon, that the haughty duke, whom he hated, would look upon this mournful ſubmiſſion as the abject ſcheme of want.

It is highly probable that poor lady Charlotte, who too well knew the deſperate ſituation of her huſband's affairs, did by this means intend to recommend her child to the care of her father; and ſuch conduct in her was very natural and laudable. The duke, notwithſtanding his over-ſtrained pride, and deteſtable implacability, is a man of the moſt reſpectable character.

[Page 16] My dear brother ſurvived this melancholy ſcene but two days; and I bore my drooping ward from O'Bryen Caſtle, ſo many centuries the reſidence of her anceſtors.

Although my eſteem for my younger brother, was wholly deſtroyed by his rigorous exaction of the large ſums, his parſimony had enabled him to lend Sir William, yet it was a ſatisfaction to my family pride, to ſee him become poſſeſſor of O'Bryen Caſtle, rather than any other creditor.

I ſhared with my Valeria a ſatisfaction of a better kind, when I ſaw that the ſhattered remains of her father's fortune were ſufficient to pay his debts.

The loſs of an excellent mother; of a kind, though an imprudent father; the total diſappointment of her juſt expectations of affluence:—Theſe were not gentle trials for a girl of ſeventeen. But what ſhe felt with ſenſibility, ſhe bore with fortitude.

O, lady' Enmore, ſhe is the pride of my heart! the delight of my life! You know not what I feel at the thought of her being ſeparated from me. But I muſt not, will not be ſelfiſh.

[Page 17] I can by no means agree with your ladyſhip, that my dear child ‘has too much of her father in her diſpoſition.’ She does reſemble him; but not too much. She has Sir William's lofty ſoul, generous ſpirit, high paſſions, and piercing wit; with a ſtill deeper penetration, and a much more ſolid judgment than he ever poſſeſſed. His loftineſs was pride: her's is dignity. He ſpent a noble fortune in ſupporting an extravagant parade; and gave to thoſe that aſked, rather than to them that wanted: ſhe knows how to ſteer between the extremes of avarice and prodigality; and is careful to exerciſe her beneficence on proper objects. Her high paſſions do not govern her; her reaſon governs them. His wit was not under the check of diſcretion; it was often ill-natured; a two-edged ſword, that at once wounded his neighbour and himſelf: her's is exerted only to amuſe, never to give pain; its ſeverity is pointed againſt wickedneſs and folly, not againſt the vicious, or the weak: or if ſhe does attack the vicious, the weak her generous tongue never aſſaulted. Is ſhe not careful to give due praiſe to the amiable [Page 18] part of the character? When did Valeria expoſe a perſonal defect, a natural imperfection? To conclude, Valeria is her father's picture; but the picture is ſofter, ſweeter, has more grace and elegance than the original.

I intreat your ladyſhip's forgiveneſs, if I have ſeemed over-forward to contradict your ſentiments, throughout this tedious letter. You know I am a plain-dealer, and always ſpeak my opinion; a liberty I think very conſiſtent with our friendſhip.

Your ladyſhip's obliged, and affectionate, CAROLINE CHETWYND.

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HOW, in the name of every thing marvellous, did St. Clair procure your intereſt? Sure the man has ſome familiar ſpirit to run of his errands! A ſylph, I ſuppoſe; no ſpirit leſs pure dared approach you. Ah! my good lady Enmore, I fancy you are at the bottom of this affair. It does not pleaſe my aunt to ſay who was her intelligencer; yet ſhe accuſes me of over-reſervedneſs. How could you ſay I ſeemed to want confidence in you? My beſt, my deareſt friend! whom ſhould I confide in but you? You know your Valeria would not aſſert an untruth; and I aſſure you, on my honour, the only reaſon I did not acquaint you with the addreſſes I am tormented with, was the apprehenſion of your imputing the communication of them to my vanity. Have you not obſerved, how fond ſome women—and perhaps ſome men too—are of publiſhing their conqueſts? I have been made the confidante of a great many young ladies, [Page 20] who I am certain had not the leaſt friendſhip for me; but told me their affairs, merely to let me know they were admired. When any of my female acquaintance tell me, that my lord, or Mr. ſuch-a-one, is in love with them, but that they would not have it mentioned for the world, I am the only perſon they would truſt to, &c.; I conclude what they mean to ſay is, ‘I ſhall be obliged to you for aſſiſting me to make this matter as much known as poſſible.’ And accordingly I have found, that the beſt way to get rid of ſuch trifling communications, is to keep them ſecret. Excuſe me, if my contempt for a conduct ſo wretchedly vain and ridiculous, has thrown me rather into the oppoſite extreme.

You tell me I have a great many lovers I do not mention to you: true,

‘I've praters, and ſuitors, and danglers great ſtore.’

But they are a ſet of inſignificants, I have not the conſcience to take up your attention with. However, that you may not again call me reſerved, we'll juſt take a look at [Page 21] two of them, lady Enmore thought me imprudent to refuſe:

En premier lieu, Monſieur le compte de Chaumont, a tall, lean man, of about fifty; whoſe greateſt ambition, next to pleaſing me, is to be thought a gay, foppiſh young fellow: a fop he is; his bittereſt enemy cannot deny it; and if he would be contented to converſe only with the blind, he might be thought young, indeed! but mon vieillard would pleaſe both the eyes and ears, and ſo, alas! pleaſes neither; verifying the proverb, "Graſp all, loſe all." ‘What could recommend this count to lady Enmore?’ you aſk. Be it far from me to diſplay the bad only; though I could find precedents. Let us turn to the bright ſide; bright it muſt be owned—Noble deſcent, large fortune, ſplendid equipage, court favour. Agreeable trifles theſe, if joined to ſome more ſolid advantages. It is needleſs to obſerve, to a perſon of your juſt and refined way of thinking, how very little it is in the power of ſuch extrinſic merit in a huſband, to ſecure the happineſs of a woman, who pretends to any ſentiment.

[Page 22] The ſecond choice lady Enmore had made for your Valeria, is the chevalier d'Olonne. He has great connections, is rich, ſtrikingly beautiful, has an infinity of wit and vivacity; and, then, he has du ſang juſqu' aux ongles; no mortal man could look ſtraight in d'Olonne's face with impunity.

The chevalier is more admired by the ladies than almoſt any other man in Paris; and certainly owes not a little of his conſequence with them to his being a duelliſt.

That bravery which promiſes protection to our weakneſs and timidity, has a juſt and natural claim to our eſteem; but we are too apt to be dazzled by an inconſiderate raſhneſs:

"For women, born to be controul'd,
"Stoop to the forward and the bold."

"But my Valeria," you will ſay, ‘what think you of lady Enmore's preſent favourite, the marquis de St. Clair?’

[Page 23] Dear madam, I have not ſufficiently conſidered the ſubject: allow me to refer you to my next for an anſwer.

With unbounded gratitude and love, Your VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 24]

I DEFERRED communicating my reſolutions with regard to the marquis de St. Clair, becauſe I did not well know them myſelf. I am little leſs to ſeek than ever: I cannot bring myſelf either to accept or refuſe him. How like a coquet this! I have hitherto been above the meanneſs and cruelty of playing with the happineſs of a man that loved me: it lowers me very much in my own eſteem, to find myſelf capable of it now.

Were St. Clair to live in Ireland, I believe I ſhould not heſitate a moment; but I cannot bear the thought of ſettling at ſuch a diſtance from my dear uncle and you.

You tell me, that to give my hand to the marquis, unleſs I can give him my whole heart, will be making myſelf unhappy, and acting a diſhonourable part towards him. You likewiſe juſtly cenſure the groſs notion, of marrying firſt, and loving afterwards. I [Page 25] entirely agree with you in all this. I have a reaſonable regard for my own happineſs; I would rather die than do a diſhonourable thing by any one. But here reſts the difficulty —Do I, or do I not, love him?"

‘Surely, Valeria, it is you muſt anſwer that queſtion!’

True, my dear aunt; but honeſtly, and ſeriouſly, I don't know how to anſwer it. I really think him very amiable; and certainly prefer him—I ſhould not deliberate if I did not—to all the men I ever knew. I like his converſation; except when he importunes me on a certain ſubject. I am generally beſt pleaſed when he is preſent; and ſometimes regret his abſence. I pity him more tenderly than I do any other man, to whom I am unhappy enough to give pain.

‘"Tell me, my heart, if this be love?"’

If I form my opinion of that paſſion, from what I have read of it in novels, I ſhall be obliged to pronounce my ſentiments for the marquis, only—friendſhip; for I am poſitive if he were to forſake me this [Page 26] moment, and even to wed another, I ſhould preſerve my reaſon; yes, and my peace of mind too! Yet, I confeſs, his dereliction would ſenſibly pique, and perhaps wound me.

Love, it ſeems, can obſerve no faults in —or at leaſt gloſſes over the faults of—its object. Now, I think St. Clair wants vivacity; and, if the expreſſion be not too bold, fire! There is a ſoft gentleneſs in his manners, that would be more ſuitable to a female character, and might be inſipid even in that. I would not be ſuppoſed to like roughneſs; no, not in the leaſt approach to it; but I would have a certain degree of life and ſpirit accompany the ſoftneſs of a man.

Thus have I ingenuouſly told you the ſtate of my heart. Let my dear parents determine for me. I ſhall remain in ſuſpenſe till your advice turns the balance; and it is in your power to turn it to which ſide you pleaſe. If you would be happier—and your unbounded tenderneſs gives me room to imagine you would—in my living with you, ſpeak the word: I ſhall inſtantly break [Page 27] off this match; I ſhall return to dear Ireland, and my beloved friends. This laſt reſolution will ſurprize you. To ſay the truth, I begin—or rather continue—to ſigh at our long ſeparation. Beſides, my ſituation here is a little diſagreeable. I plainly ſee lady Mary Enmore hates me; ſhe does not treat me with incivility; but I eaſily read her ſentiments for me notwithſtanding. She is unhappy when in the ſame party with me; imagining the undeſired court that is paid me, a ſlight to her. It muſt appear vain in me to impute her diſlike to envy; yet I don't know how otherwiſe to account for it. I have carefully examined into my behaviour to her, and flatter myſelf with impartiality in ſaying, it deſerved a very different return.

Lady Enmore's friendſhip is almoſt as unpleaſing in its conſequences, as her daughter's hatred: ſhe is continually teazing me to marry. ‘Certainly, Miſs O'Bryen, you are very young, and very handſome;’ —you'll pardon my repeating her own words—‘and yet you may never have ſuch another offer.’ This ſpeech was [Page 28] firſt made for Chaumont, then d'Olonne, and is now repeated, at leaſt twice a day, for St. Clair. Reſpect to her more advanced years, and gratitude for her affection, obliges me to attend to her advice; and I don't know any thing more irkſome, than to be forced to liſten to counſels one is predetermined not to follow. She is undoubtedly a ſenſible woman; I greatly eſteem her, as well on account of her perſonal merit, as her being your friend; but her diſpoſition, and notions of things, are ſo oppoſite to mine, that ſhe is by no means qualified to judge for me in ſo important a point. Indeed, her ladyſhip wants a little of my dear aunt's delicacy. Were I to put myſelf under her direction, I ſhould be quite a female fortune-hunter. How would you like, madam, to ſee your girl aſſume ſuch a character; to be continually on the catch—allow me that expreſſion—endeavouring to make her fortune by her perſon?—O, villainous! What a conduct!—It would abſolutely be unchaſte!

Lady Enmore has juſt told me, ſhe is reſolved not to importune me any more on [Page 29] the marquis's account. ‘I ſhall leave you entirely to yourſelf, my dear;’ ſaid ſhe, ‘becauſe I am convinced you cannot be ſuch a fool as to refuſe him.’ This is an odd way of leaving me to myſelf. I told her I had ſubmitted the matter to your deciſion; at which ſhe is very well ſatisfied.

I have written ſeparately to my dear uncle; not to exclude him from my confidence, but becauſe I thought cuſtoms, laws, &c. would have made an awkward appendix to ſuch a letter as this. I have anſwered his ſeveral queſtions, according to the beſt information I could procure. If I have pleaſed him, I ſhall be happy; if not, put on a ſaucy look for me, and tell him he was mighty curious to give me ſo much trouble about things that did not concern either of us.

His and your, VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 30]

I HAVE received your letter, my dear ſiſter, and am determined to accept your invitation. I know my uncle and aunt will be unwilling to let me go; but they are too indulgent to deny me, when they find I have ſet my heart on it. I ſhall plead my impatience to ſee you, after a ſeparation of near five years; my deſire to behold a brother, of whom I have ſo ſlight a remembrance. Here they will tell me, that Sir Edward has given us hopes of ſeeing him at Paris next ſummer; and I ſhall promiſe to return with him.

I would not, on any account, remain here one month longer, after the converſation I had yeſterday with lady Mary Enmore. A reſtleſs curioſity—perhaps a latent hope—prompted me to make an enquiry, that has ended, as I might have ſuppoſed it would, in deſpair! I did not dare to mention the marquis's name to [Page 31] Miſs O'Bryen; her piercing eyes ſeem to read one's very ſoul; but, affecting an air of careleſs vivacity, I ventured to aſk lady Mary, if her fair companion was not ſoon to be married to Monſieur de St. Clair. She replied, ‘I believe ſo; Mrs. Chetwynd has been written to.’ I could hardly ſtand this ſhock, though I thought I had fortified my mind againſt it. I am afraid I did not entirely conceal my emotion from lady Mary: ſhe looked I don't know how at me; ſhe even had the inſolence to ſneer. I wiſh to Heaven I had been ſilent.

I went this morning to lady Enmore's; hoping, by an aſſumed ſprightlineſs, to deſtroy lady Mary's ſuſpicions. They were abroad. I waited for them. My ſpirits began to flag: I ſat down to the harpſichord, and played and ſung, that I might not think! It would not do;—a flood of tears interrupted the ſong. What ſhould become of me, were they to return at this moment? The reflection inſtantly rouſed me. I ſtarted up, walked about the room, recovered myſelf, and ſat down again. Turning over the leaves of a muſic book, I [Page 32] found ſome tolerable verſes, addreſſed to lady Mary on her ſinging:—ô ciel! that any man ſhould think it worth his while to flatter lady Mary Enmore! I recollected her behaviour to me yeſterday, and could not deny myſelf the ſmall revenge of ſcribbling a very ſatyrical couplet on the oppoſite page. I hope the lines will vex her. Perhaps ſhe may diſcover the author, though I endeavoured to diſguiſe my hand. I care not if ſhe does: let her remember her barbarous ſneer. Why is not Valeria O'Bryen ſuch a creature as lady Mary Enmore, that my mean jealouſy might not be wholly without excuſe? I hate myſelf for my ingratitude to the woman, with whom I have interchanged the tendereſt profeſſions of friendſhip. She has long ſince perceived the melancholy I took ſo much pains to hide; and her generous and tender aſſiduity, in conſequence of that diſcovery, wounds me to the ſoul. She once hinted a deſire to know the cauſe of my uneaſineſs. You may believe ſhe was the laſt perſon I ſhould have choſen for a confidante. I was forced to give her an evaſive [Page 33] anſwer: ſhe did not preſs me; but, with a delicacy peculiar to herſelf, ſhe immediately changed the ſubject, and has never ſince renewed it. Why cannot I love her?

It is late; I am fatigued and ſleepy; I ſhall lay down my pen; but I am reſolved not to cloſe this letter till I have obtained permiſſion to go to England.

Why do they oppoſe my going? I cannot, will not, ſtay here. I am diſguſted with this place, and every body in it. I hate the woman I ought to love; and I deſpiſe myſelf! I am juſt returned from viſiting Madame de Carignan. She had a good deal of company; Miſs O'Bryen was mentioned; every one ſaid ſomething in her favour. My envious heart died within me. I ſat ſullenly ſilent, while her praiſes were echoed from mouth to mouth, as if the company had been in a conſpiracy to puniſh me—as I deſerve. O, how has this paſſion narrowed my mind! There was a [Page 34] time, when I ſhould have received pleaſure from ſuch a converſation. Still I am not ſo far loſt to juſtice and generoſity, but that I am ready to acknowledge, ſhe is the firſt of women. In ſhort, I praiſe her myſelf, but cannot endure to hear her praiſed by another. Were ſhe cenſured, I could liſten with ſecret ſatisfaction, and ſhould warmly defend her, notwithſtanding:—what contemptible caprice!

Adieu. I have not yet relinquiſhed the ſweet hope of ſeeing you.

After two day's ſtruggle I have prevailed. Now you, my gentle ſiſter, would have given up any pleaſure, rather than have endured ſo long a contention: I ſee there are ſome advantages attending obſtinacy.

You may expect to ſee me very ſoon. My uncle intends putting me under the protection of Mr. Domville; who talks of quitting France every day. He is an Engliſh gentleman, brother to Lord Linfield, married about two years ago to lady Lucy [Page 35] Melmont, daughter to ſome Iriſh Earl. She is very pretty. Ireland is the land of beauty, I think.—I recal the obſervation— lady Mary Enmore is the moſt hideous little witch any kingdom ever produced.

How weak I am! Would you believe it,—I can hardly bear the thought of leaving this place, though I would not ſtay in it for the world: though I die to embrace you, though I long to ſee the brother on whoſe praiſe I have heard you dwell with ſo much rapture—but, ſtill, St. Clair is here; and, as yet, St. Clair is free.

Not the ſlighteſt hint to Sir Edward of the cauſe of my ſudden viſit to England. I might have ſpared the caution. I know I may depend on your prudence.

Adien, my dear ſiſter. LEONORA MARCHMONT.

[Page 36]

AN unexpected incident occaſions me to revoke the power I have placed in the hands of my dear uncle and aunt; a power, which not my duty and gratitude only, but my juſt conſciouſneſs of their very ſuperior underſtandings induced me to give them. I ſay give; for I can never think that parents ſhould have an affirmative voice in theſe matters; a negative one they have an inconteſtible right to; and even of that they ſometimes make but too cruel a uſe. I owe more to you than I could to a father and mother. They would have a natural obligation, and a natural deſire to ſupport, to love me, and to ſeek my welfare: all theſe you do, not neceſſarily, but freely and voluntarily; which, beyond doubt, very much enlarges my ſphere of duty: yet, I frankly own, I could allow you no more than a negative —and I well know you are both too generous to claim even that—in an affair of [Page 37] ſuch momentous concern to the future happineſs of my life.

Where has my rambling pen led me? I was going to tell you, that an unexpected incident had fixed my intentions in reſpect to the marquis. It is, without further preface, as follows:—I have, ſince I came here, contracted a friendſhip with a Miſs Marchmont, which I believe I might have mentioned to you in ſome of my former letters. Till within the paſt month, I had every reaſon to ſuppoſe that this amiable girl amply returned the very lively tenderneſs I entertained for her; but during that period, there was an unuſual coldneſs and conſtraint in her behaviour to me. I could not think ſhe was of a fickle diſpoſition, and was poſitive I had given her no cauſe of diſpleaſure, ſo attributed the alteration rather to a melancholy ſhe wiſhed to conceal, than to any diminution of affection to me. From being the livelieſt creature imaginable, ſhe became quite the reverſe. Convinced that ſuch a change was the effect of ſome extraordinary misfortune, I was exceedingly alarmed for her. I ſought to know the occaſion [Page 38] of her ſorrow; not from an impertinent curioſity, but the better to enable me to pour the ſoothing balm of conſolation on her wounded mind. She avoided my enquiry, which ſeemed to give her ſo much pain, that I extremely condemned myſelf for making it, though conſcious of the juſtifiableneſs of my intention. I think there are very few ſecrets that can juſtly be denied to perfect friendſhip; but ſome there certainly may be; and I doubted not Miſs Marchmont had proper reaſons for her ſilence: I therefore was not offended, though chagrined at her reſerve. It was her advantage, not my own gratification, I ſought; and ſhe beſt knew whether it was in my power to be ſerviceable to her or not. As far as my friends pleaſe to truſt me, they ſhall find me faithful; but I have no notion of over-earneſtly ſoliciting a perſon's confidence, as it always has more the appearance of deſign or curioſity, than of affection. With theſe ſentiments, you may imagine, I was no encroacher on the tenderneſs of my friend. Since ſhe would not put it in my power to comfort, or to adviſe, I endeavoured [Page 39] to amuſe her, but was not ſo happy as to ſucceed. Still was the dear girl melancholy, and ſometimes a little captious, and out of humour. I ſeemed not to perceive it: they have an ill temper that cannot bear with the infirmities of thoſe they love.

Things continued in this train for ſome time.

About a week ago ſhe came to ſpend a morning at Lady Enmore's. During her ſtay, one of the footmen brought a letter to her ladyſhip. As there was no company but Miſs Marchmont, with whom we are on ſo intimate a footing, ſhe made ſome apology, and opened it.

"Who is that from, madam?" aſked lady Mary; who has a reaſonable portion of curioſity.

"From the marquis de St. Clair."

Miſs Marchmont turned paler; for ſhe has ſome natural complexion, in ſpite of the vile rouge. A ſmelling bottle of mine, which I had ſhewn her for its remarkable beauty, fell from her hand, and was broken to pieces. I rallied her for being ſo much [Page 40] diſcompoſed at ſuch a triſling accident. She inſtantly laid hold of this pretence, as I had deſigned ſhe ſhould; apologized for the little miſchief ſhe had done me; and obſerved that her nerves were ſo weak, that the ſudden breaking of any thing always threw her into diſorder.

"Well, my dear," ſaid I, ‘muſic will ſet you to rights in a moment. Lady Mary, will you favour us with a ſong?’

She immediately complied, which gave my fair friend time to recover herſelf; and ſo the matter paſſed off: but I frequently afterwards revolved it in my mind with great perplexity. That ſhe loved the marquis, was the only probable ſolution of the myſtery: if ſo, I wondered I had not obſerved it ſooner. But I recollected I had ſeldom ſeen them together; and as it is to be ſuppoſed her behaviour was carefully guarded at ſuch times, it is not ſurprizing it deceived one wholly unſuſpicious. If ſhe had placed her affections on a man ſhe knew to have attached himſelf to another, her deep melancholy was no longer unaccountable. I called to mind ſeveral circumſtances [Page 41] which appeared to favour this opinion, particularly her referve to me;— what could be more natural; who would make a rival a confidante? Pride forbade it, and even generoſity; ſince if I loved St. Clair—and her own paſſion would incline her to imagine I did—ſhe reduced me to the terrible neceſſity of either acting an unfeeling and unfriendly part by her, or of making myſelf wretched. I flatter myſelf I need not tell you which ſide, even in that caſe, I would have taken.

I muſt break off here, as my lovely countrywoman, lady Lucy Domville, has juſt called on me, to take a ramble with her. She is going to make ſome purchaſes, wherein ſhe politely wiſhes to profit by my fancy.

Devotedly your VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 42]

I SHALL now, my dear madam, reſume the ſubject of yeſterday.

It highly concerned me to find out Miſs Marchmont's ſentiments: but how was I to penetrate them? It required an infinity of addreſs to queſtion her on ſo nice a ſubject: I was apprehenſive of hurting her delicacy, her pride; of appearing ungenerous; in ſhort, I never was ſo embarraſſed in my life.

In this ſituation, it was fortunate for me that the marquis was out of town. This leads me to mention the purport of his letter to lady Enmore. It was, to inform her, —or rather me, through her—that he was confined to the country (where he had not intended to ſtay above four days, at the moſt) by his attendance on the chevalier d'Aumont, his particular friend, who had been deſperately wounded in a duel. You will eaſily ſuppoſe this was accompanied by [Page 43] a number of complaints, compliments, &c. Three days after this letter had annihilated my poor ſmelling bottle, lady Mary told me, that Miſs Marchmont had been enquiring from her, whether I was to be married to St. Clair. "I declare," ſaid her ladyſhip, ‘I believe ſhe has a penchant for him herſelf; ſhe looked ſo confuſed while ſhe ſpoke of him: and don't you remember her diſorder the other day, when my mother received his letter?’

‘I am aſtoniſhed a perſon of your ladyſhip's diſcernment, could harbour ſo ridiculous a ſuppoſition: the place I have the honour to hold in Miſs Marchmont's friendſhip, ſufficiently confutes your error.’

The word error offended her; and it was unpolite, or rather, it was inconſiderate in me to uſe it: ſhe repeated it twice with emphaſis; then added, ‘'Tis true, I am not bleſſed with the penetration and profound judgment of Miſs O'Bryen!’ pronouncing my name with a ſneer, and toſſing her little conceited head. She needed not to have done ſo; it was an ancient and honourable [Page 44] name, ages before her own was drawn from obſcurity. With an intention to provoke me, ſhe ſaid, ‘I requeſt you will excuſe my having communicated my obſervations to you; I really did not know you would be diſpleaſed that any body but yourſelf ſhould preſume to love him.’

As my talents for wrangling are by no means a match for her's, I thought it moſt prudent not to anſwer a ſpeech that might have produced a quarrel.

"If you pleaſe, lady Mary," ſaid I, ‘we ſhall diſmiſs this ſubject; but firſt, let me conjure you never to divulge your very unjuſt ſuſpicions, as you may thereby greatly injure my Leonora.’

I was heartily ſorry the malicious creature had made this diſcovery, though it confirmed my own ſurmiſe. I was now determined to come to an eclairciſſement immediately, eſpecially as I found Miſs Marchmont intended to go to England with the Domvilles. I did not get an opportunity of converſing with her in private, till the day before yeſterday. Thus it was:—I [Page 45] called at the hotel de Villemar, in the morning. Madame de Villemar, her aunt, told me ſhe was in her own apartment, and was going to ſend for her. I ſaved her the trouble, by ſtepping up ſtairs myſelf. I found her weeping: ſhe ſtarted, on ſeeing me.

"Why theſe tears, my dear Leonora?" aſked I, aſſectionately taking her hand.

"Excuſe me," anſwered ſhe, averting her face, ‘I am a little low-ſpirited this morning.’

‘Ah! Miſs Marchmont, it is not particularly this morning you are low-ſpirited; you are always ſo: yet, miſer as you are, you hoard all your griefs within your own breaſt, and refuſe to ſhare them with your friend.’

‘No more, Miſs O'Bryen; for pity's ſake importune me not.’

‘I muſt, I muſt, my Leonora. Ah! wherefore do you mock me with the name of friend, while you treat me with a reſerve incompatible with friendſhip?’

I waited her reply. She ſpoke not: ſhe ſeemed greatly agitated. I endeavoured to [Page 46] put an end to her diſtreſs as ſoon as poſſible. —‘Permit me, Miſs Marchmont, to aſk you one queſtion: a queſtion which I intreat and conjure you to anſwer with ſincerity.’

‘What queſtion?—what would you aſk?’ ſhe demanded, with fearful haſtineſs.

"Am I," ſaid I, baſhfully looking down, ‘am I ſo unfortunate as to be, directly or indirectly, the cauſe of your—’

"Inſulter!" interrupted ſhe, colouring with reſentment; and ſtarting from her ſeat, ſhe moved towards the door with quickneſs: by a ſtill quicker movement I got between her and it.

"Call me not inſulting!" and I threw my arms about her. ‘Heaven be my witneſs, I intended not to inſult; ſtill leſs, if poſſible, to grieve you. Will not you pardon me, Leonora?’ Apprehenſive that the compaſſion which was written on my heart, might be legible on my countenance, I reclined my face on her ſhoulder—unwilling to offend her, even by a look. She burſt into tears, and beſought [Page 47] me to forgive her. Then recollecting herſelf, as it were, ſhe half puſhed me from her, exclaiming, ‘Too charming creature! Fatal beauty!—Would I had never known you!’

‘Ah! form not ſo cruel a wiſh. If I have been your rival, 'twas ignorantly and undeſignedly. I never ceaſed to be your friend, nor ever ſhall. No longer view me in the former odious light; condeſcend to accept me in the latter. Can you diveſt yourſelf of—what you will allow me to call—a narrow pride, and place your conſidence in one incapable of abuſing it? The marquis de St. Clair muſt never be any thing to me. Is it in my power—’ I ſtopt, not finding words delicate enough to expreſs my deſire of making him her's.

"O, noble-minded Valeria!" cried ſhe; ‘how little do I merit this generoſity! Caſt me for ever from a heart too worthy to entertain an affection for ſuch an ingrate! I have hated—I have envied you—’

[Page 48] "Do not condemn yourſelf," anſwered I, ‘for the natural effects of the moſt uncontroulable of all paſſions. You have hated me; does not this imply, that you do not now hate me? Endeavour to love me for the future, as ſincerely as I ſhall endeavour to deſerve it; and let us mutually forget the injuries we have involuntarily done each other. And remember, Leonora, remember I expect an unlimitted truſt in my honour, if it be poſſible for me to ſerve you; if not, let me ever remain a ſtranger to the ſituation of your heart, rather than that heart ſhould feel an addition to its ſorrow, by my knowing it.’

The ſweet girl was quite oppreſſed by her too lively gratitude. She wept—ſhe was unable to ſpeak. To relieve her, and perhaps in ſome meaſure to relieve myſelf, for I was exceedingly affected, I abruptly feigned an engagement; and, tenderly embracing, quitted her.

I muſt now conclude pretty briefly, having already given my pen a greater portion of my time than I can well afford. When [Page 49] I tell you that I leave Paris three days hence, you will imagine I muſt be extremely hurried.

I have ſaved myſelf the fatigue of farewell viſits, by not mentioning my intention to any one, except Monſieur and Madame de Villemar, Miſs Marchmont, lady Enmore, and lady Mary; and Mr. Domville and his lady, whom I am to accompany.

Lady Enmore is to make my apologies to my acquaintance. That the ſuddenneſs of my departure may not be thought myſterious, ſhe thinks fit it ſhould appear in conſequence of ſome letters from Ireland.

Her ladyſhip has ſaid every thing in her power to diſſuade me from going; and I really had occaſion for all the little addreſs I am miſtreſs of, to keep her from being offended. I could not tell her the true motive that actuated me in this ſudden reſolve. I was obliged to pretend that my impatience to ſee my Iriſh friends would not permit me to ſtay another winter; and ſhe had no deſign to return ſooner. I ſhould have been happy, I ſaid, to ſtay with her three or four months longer, only the opportunity [Page 50] of going with the Domvilles was ſo peculiarly tempting. All my rhetoric could hardly reconcile her to parting with me. She is a moſt ſincere and affectionate friend. I do not quit her without regret; and ſhall never forget what I owe her.

Lady Mary is immeaſurably afflicted at loſing ſo agreeable a companion. Paſſe pour cela!

It is ſcarcely neceſſary to inform you, that Miſs Marchmont does not go to England. Her uncle and aunt, who are exceſſively fond of her, are delighted at her changing her mind, though they do not know why ſhe did ſo.

She has engaged me to viſit a ſiſter of her's of whom ſhe has given me an intereſting hiſtory, which I ſhall communicate to you when I have more leiſure.

I do not expect to ſee the marquis before I go, as the chevalier d'Aumont is conſiderably worſe. Poor St. Clair! I grieve to think what his gentle nature may ſuffer on my account. I ſincerely hope his paſſion will expire, when he no longer beholds its object. I have deſired Leonora to aſſure [Page 51] him of my gratitude and unalterable eſteem; but at the ſame time to tell him, that was all he had ever to expect from me. You will readily perceive, that the reaſon I choſe to make her the bearer of this meſſage, rather than lady Enmore, was, becauſe it would naturally lead to an intimacy between them. I pleaſe myſelf with thinking, the attention he will experience from her, joined to her merit, her beauty, her agrémens, will, in ſome little time, accompliſh what I ſo ardently wiſh.

Adieu, adieu, my deareſt madam. I have not time to re-peruſe this long letter.

Ever your dutiful, &c. VALERIA O'BRYEN.

Direct your next to lord Linfield's, London.

[Page 52]

DAME Prudence took me by the hand, and led me here to look after my eſtate. I never ſuppoſed ſhe had any thing further in view: but mark her treachery. Who could have ſuſpected it in ſuch a grave gentlewoman? She had moſt deviliſhly contrived and complotted with the gods Hymen and Cupid, to introduce me to the acquaintance of Miſs Ormſby. A merchant's daughter!—'tis true;—but what of that? —She has forty thouſand pounds!

Shall I tell you all how and about it?— I will.

Mr. Matthias Ormſby—it is neceſſary, for the exactitude of the thing, that you ſhould be told his chriſtian name—Mr. Matthias Ormſby, a London merchant, has two fair daughters, videlicet, Emily and Hannah: the former, it pleaſed Sir James Conway to take unto him, in quality of wife; leaving the latter for me, his friend, [Page 53] and brother baronet. ‘Very kind, and conſiderate,’ you will ſay, ‘that he did not take both.’ Why ſo it was; and to make my acknowledgments, I poſted to his manſion-houſe, which is but three miles from my own, the ſecond day after I came down—was moſt hoſpitably received by Sir James—introduced to his bride, and her ſiſter—requeſted to accept a general invitation, of which I have frequently availed myſelf; my houſe being then, as at preſent, utterly deſtitute of inhabitants, ſave only ſelf and ſervants and I am entirely of opinion, that ‘it is not good for man to be alone.’

In the courſe of my viſits, Sir James has ſometimes dropt hints, that I ſhould do well to countenance his example, and clear my eſtate.

What does your lordſhip think of this advice? My eſtate, you know, is worth about ten thouſand a year. My father involved it extremely. I have been clearing ever ſince I came to it; and have now reduced the debts to thirty-ſix thouſand [Page 54] pounds. By living within the bounds I have preſcribed to myſelf, I ſhall pay off the whole in leſs than ten years. But ſuppoſe I take a more expeditious method.— Miſs Ormſby's fortune will more than ſettle my affairs; and her father will likewiſe leave her a conſiderable ſum at his death. I aſſure you, the oeconomy of this ſcheme has ſtruck me forcibly.

May I boaſt to you, that Miſs Ormſby treats me with diſtinction. If ſhe did not, perhaps I ſhould not think of her. The dear charmer ſhould conſider, however, that—

"A heart by kindneſs only gain'd,
"Will a dear conqueſt prove;
"And, to be kept, muſt be maintain'd
"At vaſt expence of love."

Call it vanity, or gratitude, which you will, Methuen; but aſſuredly there is ſomething irreſiſtibly engaging in being beloved. When a woman ſeems ready to jump into one's arms, indeed, 'tis quite another matter. I admire her, who

[Page 55]
"—In ſtriving to hide,
"—Reveals all her flame."

This is exactly Hannah's caſe. She fixes her mild eyes, filled with dying langour, on my face; inſtantly draws them off, with great confuſion, when their glances meet mine. She practiſes a number of other pretty contrivances; ſo natural to her wily ſex, when they would enſnare our hearts.

Doubtleſs you expect a deſcription of my fair one:—here it follows then.

She is tall, ſlender, and ſtraight. But to ſhew you my impartiality—a rare virtue in a lover!—I muſt confeſs, her limbs are rather coarſe, than delicate; ſtiff, than elaſtic; but, on the whole, ſhe has ſomething very genteel and degagée in her appearance.— Now for her face—

"O, face, induſtriouſly contriv'd by Heaven,
"To fix my eyes, and captivate my ſoul!"

Shall I diſſect her features? Perchance they will not bear it; though they do very well together, let me tell you. Her forehead, [Page 56] cheeks, noſe, and chin, are unexceptionable. O, moſt unlover-like, thus negatively to praiſe them in the aggregate! I ſhould have ſeparated them, and beſtowed a poetical ſimile or two on each. Well, to make amends for my negligence—

"Her radiant eyes,
"The bright, celeſtial blue that paints the ſkies."

By the way, I have no paſſion for blue eyes: they are generally ſoft, ſometimes bright, but almoſt always want life.

Her mouth is rather wide; but her teeth are white, and even. Her hair is a pretty light-brown, very thick and gloſſy: her ſkin, white as the new-blown lily; but her complexion not blooming enough for my taſte. There is a ſweetneſs and ſenſibility in her looks, with a tincture of indolence.

Her underſtanding is good enough for her ſex; but ſhe poſſeſſes not a ſingle ſpark of what we call wit. I cannot ſay I lament that, as I think wit a moſt unamiable and dangerous quality, when it is not joined to [Page 57] an uncommon ſtrength of judgment, and goodneſs of heart.

A note from lady Conway—I fly to attend them.

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 58]

MARCHMONT, I tell you frankly, I do not approve your precipitate choice. 'Tis a prudent one with regard to fortune; but as to birth, I could wiſh you had been a little more nice. I have been making enquiries about Miſs Ormſby's family. Her father, I find, has the character of a worthy, honeſt, rich man; but he may have dropt from "the heavens above," or— more applicable, indeed—aſcended from "the earth beneath," for any thing I know to the contrary; for, in ſpite of my ſtricteſt reſearches, I cannot poſſibly learn he had a ſingle forefather. Mrs. Ormſby's family, it ſeems, is tolerably genteel.

Had I no knowledge of your diſpoſition, except what your letter conveyed to me, I ſhould certainly conclude you were one of the greateſt miſers on earth; and ſo impute your—I believe I miſapply the word—paſſion [Page 59] for this girl, wholly to avaricious motives: but I well know you are greatly above ſuch meanneſs. Your eſtate is incumbred; yet it ſurely is a competence; nay, much more than a competence: and he who poſſeſſing enough, ſighs for more, is a deſpicable fellow! The votaries of Plutus are more wretched, and far more contemptible, than thoſe of any other god in the whole Pagan theology.

There is ſtill another conſideration—of which I apprehend you have not been ſufficiently mindful—of more weight than either high deſcent or riches; I mean the intereſts of the heart. You call yourſelf a lover; yet there is not a ſentence throughout your letter, that appears to me to ſavour of a paſſion, of which I am bold enough to think myſelf an excellent judge. You will allow me, likewiſe, to know ſomething of matrimony, as I have been almoſt four years a huſband; and believe me, Marchmont, that love—love alone can make that ſtate deſireable. You have often laughed at what you call my romantic notions: but I ſtill maintain them, and ſhall to the end of [Page 60] my days, in defiance of all your lively raillery. I know you have the many on your ſide. I care not: I am by no means aſhamed of being ſingularly in the right. What! becauſe moſt minds are too dull, or too coarſe, to feel the lively and delicate ſenſations, that warm and purify my heart; muſt I, therefore, give up an opinion, founded, not on imagination, but experience; and joining mine to the vulgar voice, call love romantic; its joys evaneſcent and deluſive? No, I neither can nor will, conceal from myſelf or others, that I am ſupremely happy; and that it is love which makes me ſo.

If I thought you one of thoſe grovelling wretches, into whoſe narrow ſouls love cannot force an entrance, I ſhould not have touched on this ſubject; but I am convinced your generous, enlarged mind, is capable of entertaining this paſſion in its utmoſt ſublimity; and that the inſenſibility you have preſerved to your twenty-fourth year, is wholly accidental: or, perhaps, in a great meaſure owing to the quickneſs of your penetration, which enables you ſo eaſily to develope the inſignificance, which, [Page 61] I acknowledge, does but too much abound in the female character.

Miſs Ormſby, you tell me, has ſenſe enough for her ſex; you ſhould rather have ſaid, for her education: for certainly, Sir Edward, it is falſe and illiberal to ſuppoſe the natural capacities of women, much—if at all—inferior to our own. Undeniably there are numbers of them very triflers. But may not the ſame be ſaid of the men? And how many ladies do we ſee, overcoming all the diſadvantages they have to contend with, make a diſtinguiſhed figure in converſation? Let me aſk you—I know you will ſmile at the queſtion—Did you ever hear lady Methuen make an obſervation you would have bluſhed to pronounce?

I am running into a greater length than I intended when I began this letter. I deſigned only to put you upon conſidering, whether the perſonal attractions of Miſs Ormſby will make her an agreeable companion for life? You don't ſeem to be in very violent raptures with them, even at preſent: and I caution you not to ſuppoſe that your inclination will be laſting, becauſe [Page 62] it is moderate;—it is in its own nature periſhable. An attachment founded entirely on outſide beauty, can never hold a man of ſenſe—nor, perhaps, any man—for an length of time.

I am confident you have no ſentiments for Miſs Ormſby, that pity does not inſpire. You ſee her unhappy;—know yourſelf the cauſe, and wiſh to relieve her. Is not this the whole matter; though your ſcrupulous generoſity did not allow you to ſpeak thus plainly?

It is generally thought arrogant to return pity for love. I cannot conceive why? It is brutal not to feel for the diſtreſſed; doubly ſo, when we ourſelves are—though ever ſo innocently—the cauſe of their uneaſineſs: therefore I think it impoſſible, in ſuch caſes, to diveſt one's ſelf of compaſſion; and both unneceſſary and inexpedient to conceal it. I would not have a gentleman, or even a lady, ſay—I pity you;—but I think they may—nay, ought—to expreſs pity by their looks, ſoftened voice, perhaps tears, and indirectly by their words: a man, certainly, with rather more circumſpection than need [Page 63] be obſerved by a woman. Compaſſion, when delicately ſhewn, is far from being offenſive; it is grateful.

I hope what I have ſaid on this ſubject, will be ſufficient to induce you to treat me, in this affair, with the ſame unreſerve you do in all others: though, certainly, to any other than a long-tried, faithful friend,—in which light I dare to think you regard me— it would be diſhonourable in you to communicate your ſentiments for Miſs Ormſby, becauſe it would be expoſing her to cenſure; cuſtom having—I believe, very rightly— made it improper for the fair ſex to love firſt. They ſhould—

‘"—Be woo'd; and not unſought be won."’

Whether you think fit to truſt me or not with the ſituation of your heart, I conjure you be careful not to hide it from yourſelf. Be aſſured it is not ſufficient for you merely to give this young lady a preference to others: it is requiſite you ſhould love her. A preference in a diſengaged heart, is not of much conſequence; if circumſtances favour, [Page 64] it may probably improve into paſſion; but it is not at all certain that it will do ſo. Think, then,—think, my dear Marchmont, what a ſtate of miſery would be your's, if you ſhould bind yourſelf to a woman who is little more than indifferent to you; and afterwards meet one able to teach you the —then dreadful—leſſon of love!

As you value your happineſs, make no profeſſions, till your heart itſelf dictates them.

With the moſt fervent friendſhip, Yours, METHUEN.

[Page 65]

NEVER, ſure, was ſo elaborate an epiſtle written to ſo little purpoſe. ‘Pity that one who writes ſo well, ſhould ever write in vain!’

Into what a paſſion has Miſs Ormſby's humble birth thrown my uſually temperate friend! I am ſurprized you were generous enough not to bring her father from "the waters under the earth." However, I allow it is a deſirable thing to make genteel connections; and if I could call back paſt time, and reverſe the decrees of fate, Miſs Ormſby's deſcent ſhould be noble; but as this is not entirely in my power, I am content to let matters ſtand as they are. What a wide field would this ſubject open to the range of a moraliſt! Pity I have no talents that way! I could have told you that high birth is merely incidental; that the real ſource of honour is within the mind, &c. &c.

[Page 66] After making ſo light of what, I aſſure you, I look upon as your moſt important objection, you will not expect me to pay much attention to the other. The whole force of your arguments turns on this ſingle point,—I don't love Hannah Ormſby: the conſequence of which is, I may hereafter love ſomebody elſe. I certainly have not that ſort of ſentiment for her, to which, alone, your romantic imagination would affix the name of love: but I eſteem, and—you have reconciled me to the acknowledgment —I pity her. The ſweet girl is unhappy; it is in my power to make her otherwiſe;— and ſhall I not? Methuen, I ſhould deſpiſe myſelf, were I capable of heſitating between the prudent and the generous. Yes, I will ſacrifice my long-preſerved liberty to her peace. Neither do I apprehend any danger from this conduct. I am confident I never ſhall be in love, according to your eccentric notions of that paſſion. I doubt not, Hannah will always be able to maintain the preference I already give her. Indeed, were I to meet a woman equally [Page 67] amiable, who joined a very ſuperior underſtanding to a form more attractively lovely, —I know not that I could anſwer for my heart. But I have not the leaſt expectation of ever ſeeing ſuch a perſon. Nine-tenths of the young and handſome part of the ſex —and, poſitively, my wife muſt be young and handſome—are intolerably affected, impertinent, and inſignificant. By the way, it is of little conſequence whether it be nature or education that makes them ſo: it is ſufficient for me to know that the thing is certain; and certain it is, even by your own confeſſion.

To be very ſerious:—It is too late for you to argue againſt my choice:—it is made. 'Tis true, I have not yet declared myſelf; but I have ſaid more than I would un-ſay for worlds. Could I recede from what I had even looked, I ſhould hold myſelf unworthy to be Lord Methuen's friend.

I have not written to my ſiſter Wentworth on this ſubject, becauſe I expect to ſee her in a few days. I ſhall be miſerable [Page 68] if the dear creature does not approve mes petites demarches.

I am interrupted by company. Farewell.

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 69]

AS your laſt gives me an account of your arrival at lord Linfield's, I ſet about anſwering all your dear letters. To begin with the one that deſires us to direct your conduct to the marquis: you cannot imagine how much it embarraſſed and diſtreſſed us. There is no denying it,—it would have half broken our hearts, had you ſettled in France; but we did not dare to give you the leaſt hint of ſuch a nature; well knowing you would, in that caſe, refuſe St. Clair, were he ever ſo dear to you. Could we have been certain you had no tendreſſe for him, we ſhould not have had any ſcruple about the matter: his rank and fortune would not have biaſſed us, for we were far from fearing with lady Enmore, that ‘you might never have ſuch another offer.’ Our ſole difficulty aroſe from the apprehenſion of your loving him. Your uncle, indeed, was inclined to think the marquis indebted [Page 70] for your confeſſed predilection, only to his ſuperiority over your other admirers, and to his ſoftneſs, which excited your's. He thought your letter to him ſupported this opinion. "Do you imagine," he would ſay to me, ‘that a girl in love could write on ſuch ſubjects as theſe, with ſo much judgment and accuracy?’ He acknowledged, however, that he apprehended the little Frenchman in a fair way of gaining your affections. But, for my part, when I conſidered that he obviouſly poſſeſſed a larger portion of my dear, ſaucy girl's favour, than any other gentleman has been fortunate enough to obtain, I could not help fearing he had already conquered a heart, which has braved ſo many attacks. In this perſuaſion I wrote to you. I begged you to examine your heart, and chuſe whatever was moſt conſonant to its wiſhes, without a thought of us, who could not but approve of every thing you did, and muſt be happy in your happineſs. This letter, I ſuppoſe, you have not received, as you do not mention it.

[Page 71] You will perhaps be ſurprized, that I once wrote to you about this gentleman in rather a favourable manner. The propoſal was repreſented to me to be ſo advantageous, that I was afraid I ſhould be wanting to your intereſt, if I did not ſeem to approve it. I at firſt ſlattered myſelf I ſhould be able to maſter my ſelfiſhneſs; but the more I reflected on the ſubject, the more inſupportable became the thought of loſing your ſociety.

The pleaſure we received from your two next letters, amply compenſated the anxiety conveyed to us by the preceding. Valeria has acted like herſelf! This ſentence only, which comprehends every thing noble, can ſufficiently expreſs our ſentiments of your conduct to Miſs Marchmont.

We are charmed with the hope of ſoon ſeeing you. Lord Melmont ſays, he expects his daughter and Mr. Domville will pay him a viſit early in the ſummer. I fancy it would be agreeable to you to wait for them. Your friend, lady Lucy, will be delighted with your company: but if you would rather come to Ireland immediately, [Page 72] let us know, and Mr. Chetwynd will go for you.

Why did my lovely Valeria ſay, in one of her letters, "If I am handſome." Do you really think I can ſuppoſe you ignorant of your beauty? If you have either eyes or ears you muſt know it; for you have never been debarred the uſe of looking-glaſſes, nor the converſation of the other ſex. No man— not even your uncle—ever addreſſed you, but in a ſtile that would have been ridiculous flattery to any other; you have ſubdued more hearts than you have numbered years: how, then, is it poſſible for you to doubt your being handſome? I know you are not vain; and, when you write to me, I inſiſt on your taking no pains to avoid the imputation of vanity. I wiſh to be made acquainted with every thing that concerns you, even to the converſations you are engaged in; and if you gratify my deſire, ſelf-praiſe is unavoidable. I aſpire to be treated with the ſame freedom you would uſe to a correſpondent of your own age; nay, more, for friendſhip might not be able to exclude miſconſtruing envy from a [Page 73] younger breaſt; whereas I am prouder, even of your exterior charms, than it would at all become you to be, and fancy to myſelf a kind of merit in your merits.

My brother is violently afflicted with the gout in his head and ſtomach. His phyſicians have ſcarcely any hopes of him. Poor lady O'Bryen is in great diſtreſs on his account. I own to you, I think ſhe has not much reaſon; ſo ſordid, and ill-tempered a huſband, will be no great loſs. Francis O'Bryen has been apprized of his father's dangerous ſtate. He is now at Rome; but we expect this intelligence will bring him home.

As Mr. Chetwynd is writing to you, I ſhall lengthen this epiſtle only by the aſſurance of my being,

Your ardently affectionate friend, CAROLINE CHETWYND.

[Page 74]

I WRITE this from the ſweeteſt romantic ſpot in England. But I muſt go back a little, to tell you how I came here. The morning after I arrived in London, lord and lady Methuen—a moſt amiable pair— paid a viſit at lord Linfield's, purpoſely to ſee Miſs Marchmont, and conduct her to her ſiſter. They ſeemed much diſappointed at not finding her; more, though, on Mrs. Wentworth's account than their own, not being at all acquainted with her. I told them, Monſieur and Madame de Villemar's extreme reluctance to part with their niece, had induced her to lay aſide her intention of coming to England. I added, that I had a letter from her to Mrs. Wentworth, which I wiſhed for an opportunity of delivering into that lady's own hands; as I was extremely deſirous of her acquaintance.

"You muſt viſit her then, madam;" ſaid lady Methuen, ‘for ſhe never leaves home.’

[Page 75] ‘The retired, and melancholy Mrs. Wentworth,’ obſerved lord Methuen, ‘would be no deſirable companion to a lady in the full bloom of youth and beauty; and who poſſeſſes a great deal of vivacity —if I rightly read her animated face.’

‘When I have the honour to be better known to lord Methuen, I dare to think he will judge more favourably of me. I have not been wholly nurſed in the lap of proſperity; and I hope my heart is not naturally ſo hard, but it could have felt for others, although it had never found occaſion of feeling for itſelf.’

‘I did not, in the leaſt, mean to queſtion the goodneſs of your heart, madam,’ ſaid his lordſhip.

"If you had," returned his lady, ‘I ſhould have entertained a very poor opinion of your ſkill in phyſiognomy. Now I pretend to be a perfect connoiſſeuſe in that ſcience; and I am poſitive Miſs O'Bryen's fine features expreſs as much good-nature as vivacity. I am ſure, my dear,’ added ſhe, addreſſing me with an [Page 76] agreeable familiarity, ‘you will not have any objection to going with me to Mrs. Wentworth's to-morrow morning. Lord Methuen cannot accompany us, as he is engaged in town. My coach will hold us, and our women.’

I readily aſſented to this propoſal; telling lady Linfield, that I hoped ſhe would not be offended with me, as ſhe ſaw that, by a non-compliance, I ſhould eternally forfeit my reputation for good-nature. She made ſome polite objections; but lady Methuen's earneſtneſs prevailed.

We accordingly ſet out at eleven next day; and after a pleaſant little journey, of about ſixteen miles, arrived at Hermitage before two.

Mrs. Wentworth, knowing the equipage from the window, ran out; and, getting to the coach ſide juſt as we were alighting, ſhe exclaimed, "My ſiſter is here!"

"Alas! my dear," ſaid lady Methuen, taking her hand, ‘ſhe is not here; but this young lady can give you ſome account of her.’

[Page 77] I felt exceedingly for her diſappointment; tears of pity filled my eyes;—they alarmed her.

"Ah!" cried ſhe, ‘my poor Leonora is ill.’

‘No; I aſſure you, madam, ſhe is extremely well; at leaſt ſhe was ſo when I left Paris.’

When we got into the parlour, the lovely widow ſtrenuouſly embraced her friend; ſaluted me; and, placing herſelf by me, earneſtly enquired for Miſs Marchmont. I preſented her letter, ſaying, I ſhould think her very ceremonious if ſhe ſcrupled reading it before us.

‘Perhaps, my dear Harriet, you would rather retire to read it; I am ſure Miſs O'Bryen will excuſe you.’

"Miſs O'Bryen!" echoing my name with much quickneſs and ſurprize.

"I beg her pardon, and yours," ſaid her ladyſhip, ‘for neglecting to introduce her to you; but, really, my concern for you put it out of my head.’

‘You are on your way to Ireland, I ſuppoſe, madam,’ ſaid Mrs. Wentworth.

[Page 78] I replied, "Not immediately." I thought the queſtion extremely abrupt.

Pleading impatience to peruſe her letter, ſhe left the room: and lady Methuen, in a very polite manner, apologized to me for— what ſhe called—the whimſicalneſs of her behaviour.

In ſome little time ſhe returned;—her every feature enlivened by joy, and ſoftened by ſenſibility. She flew towards me, and, claſping me in her arms, poured forth a thouſand praiſes and acknowledgments of— what ſhe termed—my generoſity to her ſiſter. She ſpoke incoherently, and in a ſtile extravagantly beyond my deſerts.

Lady Methuen looked on in ſilence for ſome minutes, then begged Mrs. Wentworth to tell her the cauſe of thoſe tranſports. "But juſt now," ſaid ſhe, ‘your behaviour to Miſs O'Bryen was ſo cold, as to border on incivility; at preſent, it is as unaccountably warm.’

‘At firſt, Louiſa, I regarded this charming lady as the deſtroyer of a ſiſter's happineſs. Read that letter, and ſee how unjuſt I have been to her. Perhaps I ought not [Page 79] to divulge Leonora's ſecrets; but I can hide nothing from you.’

I am ſummoned to breakfaſt.

I return to finiſh my letter while the coach is getting ready. We are going to take an airing, and ſhall probably meet Sir Edward Marchmont, Mrs. Wentworth's only brother, whom ſhe expects here this morning. I am ſorry he is coming to break in on our ſweet female party. I cannot ſay I diſlike either men or mirth; yet I never ſpent two days more to my taſte than theſe laſt paſt, when both were entirely excluded. Lady Methuen's fine underſtanding makes her a moſt agreeable companion. Mrs. Wentworth has a great deal of good ſenſe; and there is a peculiar ſoftneſs and delicacy in every thing ſhe ſays, that is ineffably pleaſing: ſhe has the moſt inſinuating gentleneſs of manners; there dwells a "melancholy grace" about her, which touches the heart in a way not eaſy to deſcribe. Whenever I [Page 80] look on this beautiful, unhappy woman, I call to mind thoſe lines.

"As when a duſky miſt involves the ſky,
"The moon through all the dreary vapours ſpreads
"The radiant veſture of her ſilver light
"O'er the dull face of nature; ſo her charms
"Divinely graceful ſhone upon her grief,
"Bright'ning the cloud of woe."

I am afraid ſhe is melancholy to exceſs, when alone; for her Louiſa's and my joint endeavours, can hardly keep her in tolerable ſpirits for any length of time. Amiable unfortunate! how deeply do I feel your woes! Her hiſtory, which you may remember I promiſed you, will be conveyed to you by this poſt: I have interſperſed it with ſome account of her family. When you reflect on my intimacy with Miſs Marchmont—who is of a communicative diſpoſition, and ſhewed me ſeveral of her ſiſter's letters—you will not be ſurprized that my information is ſo particular.

Lady Methuen ſays Sir Edward Marchmont is a charming fellow, and bids me take care of my heart. I felt more for St. [Page 81] Clair than I ever did—or, it may be, ever ſhall—experience for any other of his ſex. Yet how readily I reſigned him! not, indeed, without regret; but that regret abundantly compenſated, by the pleaſure of ſerving my friend, and the delightful conſciouſneſs of having acted rightly.

Always your VALERIA O'BRYEN.

1.14.

Mrs. Wentworth's father, Sir George Marchmont, was on a tour through France, when he became enamoured of Mademoiſelle de Villemar, a little, lively brunette, who had juſt eſcaped out of a convent, where ſhe had been brought up, having loſt her mother in her infancy. Her father, whoſe mind was bent on aggrandizing his family, had deſigned to make her take the veil, [Page 82] that he might leave the larger fortune to his ſon.

The gloom of a cloiſter ill ſuited the gay temper of Angelica: but in vain ſhe remonſtrated, ſhe wept in vain; Monſieur ſon pere was inexorable. Her good genius did not abandon her in this extremity; but having made intereſt with the king of terrors, prevailed on his dread majeſty to diſmiſs the old gentleman from all his employments on this ſide eternity.

Her brother was too generous to uſe the advantage a father's unjuſt pride had given him. He took her home, and promiſed to give her a handſome fortune.

Her ſituation became now as agreeable, as it had before been the contrary. Monſieur de Villemar was married to a lady who had paſſed two years in the ſame convent with her, and the tendereſt friendſhip had always ſubſiſted between them.

She was ſoon diſtinguiſhed by the count de Meulan, whoſe addreſſes were highly approved of by her brother, and not objected to by her. This nobleman bore a reſpectable character; and though paſt the [Page 83] bloom of life, might ſtill be thought handſome. Angelica, however, had no liking to his perſon, but her little heart fluttered at the thought of being a counteſs.

While this match was on the tapis, ſhe happened to meet Sir George Marchmont in the Thuilleries: he walked with ſome gentlemen and ladies ſhe knew; by which means they became acquainted. It is not ſurprizing that two very engaging young perſons ſhould draw each other's attention: pour abréger,—a few viſits created a lively paſſion on both ſides.

He declared himſelf to her brother, who anſwered, Mademoiſelle was engaged. Sir George, in deſpair, threw himſelf at his miſtreſs's feet. Le beau chevalier Anglois was not to be reſiſted. She candidly explained her ſituation; aſſured him of her indifference to Meulan; and, with a modeſt frankneſs, confeſſed her attachment to him. As ſhe knew her brother's high ſenſe of honour would never permit him to countenance her jilting the count, ſhe conſented to marry Sir George privately, and afterwards fled with him to England.

[Page 84] When Monſieur de Villemar found his ſiſter was married, he rightly judged a purſuit would be improper. Though he did not endeavour to detain her, he was extremely ſhocked at her marrying a heretic. When ſhe forſook the Roman catholic communion, his indignation was ſo great, he reſolved never to ſee her more.

The affection of an amiable huſband ſhe found ſufficient to conſole her for the loſs of every thing ſhe had ſacrificed to him. They lived in an uninterrupted courſe of happipineſs for twelve years, when lady Marchmont died, leaving only three children out of ſeven;—Edward, who was then eleven years old; Harriet, nine; and Leonora, eight.

Monſieur de Villemar was more grieved at this event, than might have been expected, from his antecedent behaviour; and having no children of his own, readily gave ear to his wife's propoſal of adopting one of his late ſiſter's. He wrote to Sir George, earneſtly begging him to repair the injury he had done him, in depriving him of his ſiſter, by giving him up one of [Page 85] her daughters, whom he would look on as his own child, and leave her every thing he died poſſeſſed of; ſtipulating only, that ſhe ſhould be entirely reſigned to his care; and that he muſt be allowed to bring her up in the Roman catholic religion.

Sir George's notions of religion were extremely liberal; he was likewiſe a good deal in debt; ſo he chearfully accepted the offer, and diſpatched the little Leonora to Paris; the dowager lady Marchmont having promiſed to provide for Harriet, who lived moſtly with her.

While Sir George wholly devoted himſelf to the education of his ſon, his mother applied herſelf with no leſs diligence to that of his daughter. She looked on muſic, dancing, &c. as the mere ſuperficies of education. She made her young pupil read: ſhe taught her to think! She ſhewed her to appretiate the bleſſings of life juſtly; and patiently to bear its misfortunes. Her chief care was to implant religion deeply in her mind; and not only religion, but honour: for, however inſufficient a guide the latter may be without the former, it certainly is [Page 86] an excellent auxiliary; it gives a ſuperior nobleneſs to our thoughts, and a brighter poliſh to our actions.

At eighteen, the lovely, all-accompliſhed Harriet Marchmont, became the wife of Mr. Wentworth. This gentleman came recommended by every advantage that birth, education, and fortune could add to the bounty of nature. Her friends approved, and ſhe adored him. But, alas! he had one ill quality, of which ſhe, unhappily, was ignorant,—a moſt jealous temper, ſtrengthened by an unfavourable opinion of female virtue.

They lived in the moſt perfect harmony almoſt a year: nor did ſhe in all that time diſcover his diſpoſition. Perhaps ſhe would never have done ſo, had not her brother, who was juſt then returned from Italy, brought home with him Mr. Methuen, eldeſt ſon to lord Methuen, whoſe overbearing, proud, and unſocial temper, drove his children from his ſociety. Mr. Methuen was continually with Mr. Marchmont; either at Marchmont-houſe, or Wentworthplace. Mr. Wentworth looked on his wife [Page 87] as the cauſe. He narrowly watched her actions; but, in the true ſpirit of jealouſy, was careful not to let her perceive he ſuſpected her, for fear of putting her on her guard.

The innocent Harriet ſaw not the precipice on which ſhe ſtood; ſhe took no pains to conceal her eſteem for her brother's friend: when preſent, ſhe treated him with diſtinguiſhed civility; and in his abſence frequently gave him the praiſes his merit entitled him to.

Unfortunately, likewiſe, his behaviour to her, was but too well calculated to confirm her huſband's ſuſpicions: to all women he was attentive and polite; but to Mrs. Wentworth, he was even aſſiduous; he admired her,—he loved her next to his Louiſa.

Miſs Louiſa Sydney was the daughter of a clergyman, who had left her a very ſmall fortune. It was madneſs to ſuppoſe the haughty lord Methuen would ever allow his ſon to make ſuch an alliance. Mr. Methuen made both the young lady and her mother ſenſible, that it would be fruitleſs to propoſe it to him; and without much [Page 88] difficulty obtained their conſent to a private union, to be kept ſecret during the old lord's life. His frequent viſits began to be obſerved: the world ſet him down as Miſs Sydney's lover; and, for once, the world ſaid leſs than the truth, ſince he was already her huſband. The report reached his father, who roundly told him, he muſt either give up Miſs Sydney's acquaintance, or his favour; and concluded with reminding him, that he had intended ſome time before to make another excurſion to Italy, which he hoped he had not forgotten. This diſagreeable intelligence he quickly communicated to his Louiſa and her mother, who concurred in adviſing him to make the voyage his father propoſed. He ſtaid but a ſhort time abroad, being unable to ſupport the abſence of his beloved wife; though, after his return, he dared to make her but ſhort viſits, and thoſe ſeldom, and private.

Under ſuch circumſtances, he found great conſolation in complaining to the gentle, compaſſionating Harriet, whom he made unreſervedly his confidante. He ſought opportunities of converſing with her alone, [Page 89] that he might talk of his Louiſa. Conſcious of the honourable nature of his friendſhip for her, he thought not of concealing it from her huſband, or any other. No wonder, then, if the magnifying eye of jealouſy ſaw enough to condemn them.

She began, at length, to perceive a conſiderable abatement in Mr. Wentworth's affection. In vain ſhe ſought the cauſe for it in her own blameleſs conduct: ſhe was obliged to ſolve it into inconſtancy. She would not upbraid him: ſhe endeavoured to hide her ſuſpicions; but ſhe could not hide the grief they occaſioned her; he perceived it, and Methuen being in London, placed it to the account of his abſence. He aſked her, with a kind of ſneer, why ſhe was low-ſpirited? Unuſed to ſpeak any thing but pure truth, ſhe heſitated, and appeared confuſed, while ſhe attributed it to a head-ach.

‘O, you want company, child; you will be better next week: Mr. Methuen's converſation—’. He ſtopped ſuddenly, as recollecting himſelf, but the quickneſs wherewith he had ſpoken,—the tone [Page 90] and look of angry irony,—the emphatical pronunciation of the name of Methuen,— at once opened her eyes. She was all amazement; and, unable to ſpeak a word in her own juſtification, ſat ſilent; confuſedly revolving in her mind every circumſtance of her conduct to Methuen, and his to her, which could poſſibly give riſe to her huſband's diſpleaſure. Her ſilence, and very apparent diſorder, had but too much the air of guilt; and, doubtleſs, was ſo conſtrued by the ſelf-tormenting Wentworth.

At this very inſtant a ſervant came in, and delivered a letter to his lady. The ſuperſcription was a man's hand, and like her brother's; who being the only gentleman ſhe correſponded with, ſhe imagined the letter was from him, and very naturally ſaid aloud, as ſhe opened it, "From Edward." Her cheek burned when ſhe found it was from Methuen.

The occaſion of this fatal letter was as ſlight, as its conſequences were important. Miſs Marchmont had written to her ſiſter to ſend her ſome Engliſh books. Mr. [Page 91] Methuen having a friend going to Paris, promiſed to get him to take them to her; and Mrs. Wentworth commiſſioned him, when he went to London, to buy them: he had loſt the liſt ſhe gave him, and wrote to her for another.

Though this was his ſole motive for writing, he had not entirely confined himſelf to this ſubject: he could not help mentioning his Louiſa, who was always uppermoſt in his thoughts.

Had ſhe been at liberty to ſhew this letter, it would have effectually deſtroyed every ſuſpicion againſt her; but ſhe had too much honour to betray ſo important a ſecret: and determining with herſelf to aſk Mr. Methuen's permiſſion—which ſhe did not doubt of obtaining—to entruſt Mr. Wentworth with the knowledge of his marriage; ſhe thought it beſt not to touch on the ſubject till the next week, which was fixed on for their removal to London for the winter. She did not, therefore, contradict the unintentional falſehood ſhe at firſt uttered, of the letter being from her brother.

[Page 92] If we do not judge by the event, her conduct was not very imprudent; and, ſurely, it was no great crime, by ſilence to confirm her huſband in a miſtake ſhe had not intended to lead him into, and which ſhe meant ſhould continue but three or four days: yet the fatality that ſeemed to wait on all her actions, ſo ordered it, that this little deceit was, in a great meaſure, the cauſe of her ruin; for having unthinkingly thrown the cover of the letter on a table that ſtood by her, he found it, and eaſily diſcovered Methuen's hand in the direction, and his arms in the ſeal.

The little interval between that time and their going to London, he was almoſt continually abroad; and ſhe ſuffered all the uneaſineſs her ſituation may be ſuppoſed to occaſion; impatiently longing for the time which ſhe expected would put an end to his jealouſy, and her own conſequent trouble: —too ſoon came the time appointed for this unfortunate journey!

The morning after they arrived in town, Mr. Methuen came to wait on them. Mr. Wentworth was not at home; and his lady [Page 93] ſeized on that opportunity to make her intended requeſt, which being immediately granted, ſhe, in return, went to pay a viſit to Mrs. Sydney and her daughter, to whom ſhe had long before promiſed her acquaintance.

On her return home, ſhe found the following note from her grandmother:

TO MRS. WENTWORTH.—LONDON.

DEAR HARRIET,

I requeſt you will come here inſtantly, on the receipt of this. Your father—ah! my child, how ſhall I ſoften the dreadful tidings!—your dear father is not expected live. He was ſo far on his way to London, when overtaken by a violent illneſs. Edward, who is with him, is half diſtracted. I ſcarcely know what I write; perhaps I magnify the danger: do not be too much alarmed. Come to us immediately.

SOPHIA MARCHMONT.

[Page 94] In all imaginable diſtreſs, ſhe threw herſelf again into her coach; after giving lady Marchmont's billet to a ſervant, with orders to deliver it to his maſter as ſoon as he came in.

The day after her arrival at Hermitage, Sir George breathed his laſt. A meſſenger was diſpatched with this melancholy news to his ſon-in-law. The fellow returned with an account that he was not to be found; that he had left his houſe very early that morning, and nobody had ſeen him ſince.

The unhappy Harriet, already ſinking under the loſs of her father, fainted away on receiving this intelligence. It rather ſurprized than affrighted lady Marchmont and Sir Edward; yet they inſtantly ſent another ſervant to London, who brought back word, that Mr. Wentworth had killed Mr. Methuen in a duel, and fled, no one knew where. He brought the following letter to Sir Edward, which had been found on his unfortunate brother's table.

[Page 95]

TO EDWARD MARCHMONT, ESQ.

Nov. 5th, five o'clock in the morning.

I ſhould not think myſelf juſtified in leaving England for ever, without explaining my reaſons for taking ſuch a ſtep, to a family I am ſo nearly connected with, and for which I have ſo perfect a reſpect. As Sir George is ſo dangerouſly ill, I think proper to addreſs myſelf to you.

In what words ſhall I inform you of a ſiſter's infamy! But, heavens! what is your diſhonour to mine!—O, Edward, who could have ſuppoſed that Harriet— whoſe mind ſeemed as angelic as her form—was capable of betraying a huſband who adored her?—Accurſed Methuen! —But his heart's blood ſhall waſh out the ſtain he has caſt on my honour! By the Eternal Juſtice it ſhall!—My vengeance has ſlept too long!—I could not believe her perſonally guilty; I thought her heart alone had ſtrayed. I endeavoured [Page 96] to pay indifference with indifference: I even flattered myſelf I had ſucceeded. —Deluſive hope!—At this very moment, when my blood boils with reſentment, it rends my ſoul to think—I part with her for ever.

I intended to write to you calmly, and tell you every circumſtance on which I found my opinion of her guilt; but my hand refuſes to trace the odious particulars. Let it ſuffice to ſay, they could not hide their mutual fondneſs even before my face; that they correſpond by letters; and—can I write it!—make aſſignations! This laſt inſupportable injury, I neither knew nor ſuſpected, till yeſterday morning. I went to ſee my friend Henderſon; his ſervant ſaid he had gone out about an hour before, and was expected back every moment. I ſtepped up to the dining room to wait his return; where I had not been many minutes, when my coach ſtopped at the oppoſite door, and Harriet alighted from it. I ſaw her enter the dining room, and ſit down. An old lady—who, doubtleſs was the confidante [Page 97] of this infamous amour—came in: they ſaluted each other, and talked ſtanding for ſome time. The hell-hag then advanced towards a window that was open, and endeavoured to ſhut it down: at the ſame inſtant a hackney-chair, the curtains cloſe drawn on the inſide, was carried into the hall, the door of which was immediately ſhut:—inſufficient precautions! The old woman had not been able to pull down the ſaſh:—I plainly perceived the hated Methuen!—He bowed to both ladies; took hold of Harriet's hand—that faithleſs pledge of the love ſhe vowed to me—and ſeating her on a ſofa, ſhut down the window. I ſaw no more: but I had already ſeen too much to need any further proof of my wretchedneſs.

The hour approaches in which I ſhall rid the world of a villain, or from his hand receive inſenſibility of my wrongs. Adieu, then, Marchmont,—adieu, for ever. I require it of Sir George and you, as a laſt teſtimony of friendſhip, that if I am the ſurvivor, you make no enquiries [Page 98] after me. Never can I return to this kingdom. I will not be pointed at for —. My heart burſts with rage.

Who that valued honour would truſt it to a woman's keeping? By what fatal phrenzy was I induced to renounce my juſt—my well-grounded opinion of the ſex, in favour of ſuch — I will uſe no epithet of reproach; ſhe is your ſiſter; and ſhe is—deſtruction!—ſhe is the wife of Wentworth!

Tell her—no, tell her nothing. I will forget her for ever. Let her do the ſame by me.

If vice can make her happy—may ſhe be ſo! If ſhe will return to virtue— may the Almighty accept her penitence! but I never can.

I inſiſt on it, however, ſhe muſt not be treated with unkindneſs, either by her father or you. I took her out of your family; her miſconduct affects only myſelf; therefore, by me only let it be remembered.

My will was made when ſhe was innocent, or I was deceived: were it to be [Page 99] done again, I ſhould not alter a tittle or it; it makes her miſtreſs of my whole fortune: let it take place as if I were dead. I would to Heaven I were, to be paſt the ſenſe of diſhonour!—Diſhonour! —the word fires me—I fly to vengeance!

HENRY WENTWORTH.

As this letter was delivered before Mrs. Wentworth, there was no concealing it from her. It is paſt the power of words to tell the agonies it gave her: they were too ſtrong for her tender mind; and long and ſucceſſive fainting fits, ſeemed to promiſe her gentle ſpirit a releaſe from its earthly priſon.

As I fear I have already been too prolix in this melancholy recital, and have now brought it to that pitch of diſtreſs, that deſcription is no longer able to aſſiſt the imagination, I ſhall make the concluſion as conciſe as poſſible.

[Page 100] Several months were ſpent in ineffectual ſearch after Mr. Wentworth. Sir Edward, ſuppoſing he might have gone to Spain, where he had formerly paſſed two years, wrote to Cadiz, to Don Juan d'Almagro, whom he had often heard his brother mention with friendſhip. Here follows the tranſlation of Don Juan's anſwer:

TO SIR EDWARD MARCHMONT, BART.— ENGLAND.

I was honoured, Signior, with your letter ſome time ago, and ſhould have anſwered it immediately, if your brother —who was then my gueſt—had not been in a dangerous fever, occaſioned by a fall from his horſe; by which, likewiſe, he received a ſevere contuſion on his head. I would not inform you he was here, leſt your pleaſure at finding him, ſhould, if he died, add the ſting of diſappointment to the ſorrow of loſing him for ever. Unhappily the event juſtifies my precaution—It is with ſincere grief I tell you —he is dead.

[Page 101] He left me no orders of any nature whatſoever; and, indeed, he was not capable of doing ſo, not being entirely in his ſenſes during the whole time of his illneſs, which laſted more than three weeks.

I find no papers after him, and no more money than will ſuffice to defray the neceſſary expences.

As the diſtance between Spain and England makes it inconvenient to wait your directions about his burial, I have taken the conduct of it on myſelf; and you may expect his body to arrive in England ſome little time after you receive this.

I have the honour to be, &c.

The innocent victim of miſplaced jealouſy was in ſo weak a ſtate both of body and mind, that lady Marchmont thought it adviſeable to keep from her the knowledge of her huſband's death; but her brother was of a different opinion, and with a proper degree of caution, communicated it to her. [Page 102] He was undoubtedly in the right: great as muſt have been the firſt ſhock of this dreadful uncertainty, it was hardly more difficult to ſupport, than the cruel ſuſpence from which it delivered her. Her paſſions, which had been ſo long wound up to the higheſt pitch, now all at once loſt their tenſion: ſhe ſunk into a ſort of ſtupid deſpair.

Lady Marchmont's days were ſhortened by the too tender ſympathy with which ſhe beheld the miſeries of her favourite child. Her death rouſed Mrs. Wentworth from her lethargy, and ſharpened that ſenſibility, whoſe fine, ſelf-pointed edge, had been worn off by too rough an uſe.

Religious conſiderations aſſiſting her good underſtanding, after ſome time, her tenderly attentive brother had the ſatisfaction to ſee her aſſume a degree of tranquillity.

All her letters to her ſiſter ſpeak the reſignation of a pious mind! yet they ſometimes contain ſuch lively touches of ſorrow, as would wring compaſſion from the hardeſt heart.

Wentworth-place, together with all her huſband's large fortune, is her's; but ſhe reſides [Page 103] entirely at Hermitage, which her grandmother's will bequeathed to her; being unable to bear the ſight of a place, where every object would ſo ſtrongly call to remembrance, happineſs—for ever loſt!

Though he is now near three years dead, a ſable robe—which, on others, but too frequently veils a joyful heart—ſtill continues to make this faithful mourner's perſon correſpond with her mind.

She has cauſed the moſt ſumptuous monumental honours to grace her Henry's tomb;—thoſe honours, which greatneſs with mimic woe, ſo often gives to vice!— The hand of virtuous ſorrow raiſed them over the remains of the noble, ill-fated Wentworth.

I have been unpardonably negligent, in leaving you all this time to ſuppoſe Mr. Methuen was killed: he was only dangerouſly wounded. His father died of an apoplexy during his indiſpoſition; which left him at liberty to declare the marriage, that had proved ſo fatal to Mrs. Wentworth. She had, nevertheleſs, ſo much greatneſs of mind, as to continue her friendſhip to them both.

[Page 104]

I WAS met within four miles of Hermitage this morning, by your lady and my two lovely ſiſters. Is not Leonora a moſt charming creature! I cannot expreſs how much I admire her. What an elegant height and ſhape! Juſt that air which the Spectator ſo finely calls, ‘recitative dancing.’—A ſymmetry of features, how beautiful and exact—un teint de lis et de roſe!— Such eyes! bright, eloquent, and—as ſome French writer prettily ſays—juſt ready to be tender: ah! mon Dieu! what eyes they are! nor France, nor England, can boaſt ſuch another pair. 'Tis well for Miſs Ormſby, and 'tis well for myſelf, that this little divinity is my ſiſter.

Now I mention Miſs Ormſby,—you muſt know my affair goes on rapidly: a declaration made—graciouſly received—and I am actually on my way to London, to propoſe [Page 105] the matter to her father. But enough of this for the preſent.

Do you recollect a diſpute I once held with you and lady Methuen; you both againſt, and I for natural affection? Now, my lord, if there be no ſuch thing as natural affection between brothers and ſiſters, on what principle will you account for the warmth wherewith I love a ſiſter, I am but a few hours acquainted with? My preſent feelings would enable me to point out the fallacy of all your arguments. Surely, I have no obligations to Leonora; nor is my ſelf-love ſatisfied with the recollection of any ſervices done to her: the diſtance at which we have lived, has prevented the exchange of kindneſſes. As a brother, I cannot be ſuppoſed to love her for her beauty. She ſeems to poſſeſs a cultivated underſtanding, and a worthy heart; but I am by no means a competent judge of either—particularly the latter—in ſo ſhort a time. How comes it then, my friend, but from the mere impulſes of fraternal love, that I felt—as, I ſwear to you, I did—a livelier emotion when I preſſed this enchanting [Page 106] creature to my boſom, than I experienced in receiving a parting embrace from the woman I mean to make my wife.

How I ſhould triumph over you, if mv ſiſter's ſentiments did not ſeem to favour your opinion. Perhaps lady Methuen has been poiſoning her mind with her cold philoſophy. The dear girl does not at all return my tenderneſs. Her behaviour to me is extremely polite, but not affectionate:— ſhe juſt ſuffers my careſſes; apparently from the conſideration of my being her brother. I ſhall really be very unhappy if ſhe will not love me. My dear father was a little capricious in not allowing me to viſit my mother's relations. Harriet was twice in France with her grandmother; ſo ſhe has the good fortune to poſſeſs Leonora's friendſhip.

It is late. I am fatigued, and ſleepy. Adieu.

I had intended to go to London to-morrow, but have changed my mind, and ſhall remain here a week or ten days.

Yours, EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 107]

I HAVE juſt received your letter, my dear madam, incloſed in one from lady Lucy Domville, who ſcolds me unconſcionably for ſtaying here ſo long. I mean to appeaſe her by returning to town to-morrow; as I ſhould be ſorry to make the Linfield family think I ſlighted them.

Lady Methuen went home eight days ago; but Mrs. Wentworth's being a good deal indiſpoſed with a cold, induced me to remain with her. Indeed, it is not eaſy to leave her. I never in my life conceived ſuch an enthuſiaſtic regard for any perſon, in ſo ſhort a time. I was delighted with Miſs Marchmont;—but Mrs. Wentworth melts my whole ſoul to friendſhip, pity, and admiration!—What a dangerous mixture of borh is Sir Edward!—The attractive gaiety of Miſs Marchmont—the irreſiſtible ſoſtneſs of Mrs. Wentworth!

[Page 108] I have promiſed the lovely Harriet another viſit before I leave England. You cannot imagine how much ſhe is obliged to me, for devoting that time to her which ſhe thinks I could ſpend more agreeably at lord Linfield's. She ſeems extremely fond of my company, and kindly expreſſes abundance of regret at parting with me. This morning—ſweetly extravagant—ſhe exclaimed, ‘How can I live without you, Valeria?’ Her brother's fine eyes, ſoftly languiſhing, ſeemed to repeat, ‘And how can I live without you, Valeria?’

I told you, in my laſt, that to humour a whim of lady Methuen's, I was—a good deal againſt my inclination—paſſed on Sir Edward for his ſiſter Leonora. Her ladyſhip had the cruelty to keep him a whole day in his miſtake; in order, ſhe ſaid, to convince him he was miſled by the vivacity of his imagination, in an opinion he maintained againſt her lord and her. She had taken the trouble to write down a converſation they had on this ſubject; which, as I know my uncle loves argumentative pieces, I incloſe.

[Page 109] Mrs. Wentworth ſends to me, to propoſe a walk. Some new project, I ſuppoſe, for improving the gardens, &c. not that they require it—the place is a perfect paradiſe already; but having more leiſure, and more money, than ſhe well knows how to employ, ſhe is ever creating new beauties around her.

Tell my kind uncle, I cannot think of giving him the trouble of coming for me; and ſhall, therefore, wait for lady Lucy.

Adieu.

VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 110]

Lady Methuen (throwing down a book). It is ſurprizing how the whole tribe of novel writers have fallen into this error.

Sir E. Marchmont. What error does your ladyſhip reprehend?

Lady Methuen. That of ſuppoſing, that a parent and child will feel a reciprocal affection, while they are ignorant of the relationſhip that ſubſiſts between them.

Sir Edward. And do you think ſuch a matter impoſſible? I take the liberty to differ from you, madam. The ties of nature are wonderfully ſtrong, and almoſt imperceptibly fine. I do believe that parents and children, brothers and ſiſters, or ſuch near relations, would, by a ſecret ſympathy, an involuntary and irreſiſtible impulſe of the mind, find themſelves attached to each other, without knowing why.

Lord Methuen. My dear Sir Edward, you talk more like a poet than a philoſopher; that is to ſay, with more elegance than [Page 111] ſound reaſoning. For my part, I am inclined to think, that after we paſs the brute creation, we ſhall find natural affection to be extremely limitted. The parſimony of nature has not thought fit to beſtow the ſame perfect inſtinct upon us, as upon other animals; truſting our preſervation to our higher powers of mind.

Sir Edward. What then, my friends, you will not allow that the human ſpecies poſſeſs any of that unerring ſympathy, which directs the new-dropt lamb to the teat deſigned for its preſervation, while a hundred other fleecy mothers bleat unheeded round.

Lord Methuen. No, my flowery friend, I will not allow it. I muſt maintain, that natural affection does not exiſt at all with us, uncoupled with knowledge.

Lady Methuen. If a child ſhould be changed at nurſe, the ſuppoſed parents will take the ſame care of it, and feel for it the ſame fondneſs, they would have done to their proper offspring; and the ſubſtitute will experience the ſame reverence and affection [Page 112] for them, it would have entertained for its own father and mother.

Sir Edward. I believe your ladyſhip may be right ſo far; but this only proves what lord Methuen ſeemed to hint juſt now —that other cauſes combine to attach us to our offspring. Although theſe cauſes might —in the caſe you have mentioned—ſeem to ſupply the place of nature, yet I do not thereby perceive, why theſe very parents, if they afterwards became acquainted with their own child, might not love it tenderly without diſcerning the cauſe; though they might ſtill prefer the imaginary child to the real one, from the neceſſary effects of cuſtom and prejudice.

Lady Methuen. I fear, Sir Edward, your ſympathy ſtands on a ſlippery foundation.

Sir Edward. Well, my lord, what cauſes do you ſuppoſe to co-operate with natural affection? for I preſume you had ſome ſuch meaning when you ſaid, that our preſervation was partly truſted to our higher powers of mind.

[Page 113] Lord Methuen. Firſt, then, I will mention —ſelf-love: that ſtrongeſt affection of the mind, which governs us with the moſt uniform and uninterrupted influence; which teaches us to ſet a peculiar value on an eſtate, a houſe, a horſe, a dog, or any other poſſeſſion, merely becauſe it is our own. Children are our property in a more particularly manner than any thing elſe: they are part of ourſelves; they owe their being to us, and entirely depend on us. I muſt not omit, that we always extend good will to a perſon we have ſerved; and kind and tender parents may reaſonably think they have laid great obligations on their children. The conferring of favours is a very powerful incentive to love; even more than the receiving of them. Strange as this obſervation is, its juſtneſs cannot be conteſted. If this part of our tempers is not to be accounted for from ſelf-love, I believe it is wholly unaccountable.

Sir Edward. There is ſome truth, and ſome imagination, in your obſervations. But why will you refer the dear unaccountable generoſities of our nature to ſelf-love? [Page 114] You confuſe my ideas. I no longer know what you mean by the term. Surely there is nothing ſo diſintereſted as parental affection.

Lady Methuen. It is, indeed, difficult to mark where ſelf-love runs into the ſocial. But, my lord, Sir Edward expects you to find ſome more amiable auxiliaries to natural affection.

Lord Methuen. A ſenſe of duty muſt powerfully influence any mind not utterly depraved. Compaſſion ſoftly induces us to love an infant in its helpleſs ſtate; and as it grows up, we admire its beauty, eſteem its merit, and are grateful for its gratitude.

Sir Edward. There are inſtances of parents loving children without beauty, merit, or gratitude.

Lady Methuen. If the parents are unworthy themſelves, it is little more ſurprizing that they ſhould love their unworthy offſpring, than that bad people ſhould love themſelves. Beſides, you muſt allow a great deal for the force of habit: a parent loves a child many years before it can be guilty of vices for which youth may not form a ſufficient excuſe. And though you [Page 115] deny the power of ſelf-love, you muſt grant, that a ſenſe of duty and of compaſſion, ſtill remains to aid the powerful inſtinctive fondneſs of nature, which will operate in favour of the child, whether deſerving or undeſerving.

Lord Methuen. Let us admire the wiſdom of Providence, which has not left the care of the infant to depend on the goodneſs of the parent. The love of children to their parents, ariſes almoſt entirely from their own virtue, and the deſert on the other ſide. The love of parents towards their children, is an inſtinct, not materially differing from the inſtinct of brutes; like all other inſtincts, impelling from feeling to action, without any deductions of reaſon. We ſee that the parent, who has not virtue to nouriſh the ſoul by education, guided by unerring inſtinct, protects and cheriſhes the helpleſs body.

Lady Methuen. I muſt own myſelf inclined to think, that natural affection does not ſubſiſt at all, at leaſt not with any conſiderable force, except from the parent to the child.

[Page 116] Sir Edward. From what ſource do you derive our affection to our parents? If they be good, you ſay, from gratitude and eſteem. But ſuppoſe them bad.

Lady Methuen. Habit, and a ſenſe of duty, may create all the affection they can be imagined to feel.

Sir Edward. If the parent has been always bad, a habit of loving them could ſcarcely ever have taken place: and as to duty—it rules the actions only, not the heart; it gives the external marks of affection, but cannot poſſibly inſpire it. Now, from what, but the ſecret workings of nature, ariſes love to a parent, whoſe character we cannot eſteem, and from whom we have received no obligations?

Lord Methuen. My dear Marchmont, you are ſuppoſing a mere chimera. There are very few ſuch parents as you deſcribe; and thoſe few, you may depend on it, are not loved by their children.

Sir Edward. Well, my friends, I hope you will at leaſt allow, that fraternal affection is ſomething more than friendſhip.

Lady Methuen. Perhaps fraternal affection [Page 117] is only friendſhip. I grant you, we generally feel a more lively tenderneſs for our brothers and ſiſters, than for any other friends; yet this may not be occaſioned by the ſympathy of nature, but becauſe we have had more opportunities of knowing them, and exchanging obligations with them.

Lord Methuen. Our love to our brothers, ſiſters, and relations in general, may in a great meaſure be attributed to our having lived conſtantly amongſt them; and being, for that reaſon, better acquainted with them than with other people.

Lady Methuen. I fancy we ſhall end our diſpute, as diſputes are generally ended— with all parties retaining their own opinions. I muſt ſtill condemn the abſurdity of the novel writer, who ſhall deſcribe unknown relations diſtinguiſhing each other by an irreſiſtible impulſe: and Sir Edward will ſtill maintain his beloved ſympathy—natural affection to all degrees of relationſhip, &c.

Sir Edward. I acknowledge that my opinion has been oppoſed by ſtrong arguments: yet ſtill I muſt perſuade myſelf, [Page 118] that were I by any accident to meet my ſiſter Leonora, whom I have not ſeen ſince we were both children, my heart would inſtantly diſtinguiſh her.

Lady Methuen. If you did not know her, you would give her but the ſame portion of eſteem, that you would accord to the ſame degree of merit in another. And if you conceived a friendſhip for her, immediately on finding her to be your ſiſter, it would be wholly the effect of a ſtrong imagination, biaſſed by prejudice, operating on a good and tender heart.

[Page 119]

THIS day I attended the too charming Miſs O'Bryen to lord Linfield's. I was not a little chagrined, on calling at your houſe, to find you had already forſaken the gaieties of the town, for the ſerener pleaſures of Poplar-hill. Why did you go, Methuen? I never wanted a friend ſo much as at this period. Your advice—but why do I talk of your advice?—you would give me ſuch as I have not fortitude to take. How little have I already profited by your wiſe counſel! You warned me not to engage myſelf to Miſs Ormſby.—I did; and ſeverely repent it.— You bade me fly Miſs O'Bryen;—I did not; and am irretrievably undone!

What a number of little circumſtances conſpired againſt me!—I gave free admittance to love, under the diſguiſe of fraternal affection; and, far from reſiſting the dangerous intruder, I fancied there was a merit in cheriſhing it. The deceit, indeed, [Page 120] laſted only a day. But what will not ſuch attractions do, in a ſingle day? The manner of my introduction to her, naturally prevented the ſtiffneſs and formality that is apt to attend a beginning acquaintance, and placed us on the moſt eaſy and agreeable footing imaginable. I gave myſelf up, without reflection, to the ſeducing charms of her converſation. I thought I liſtened to her with delight, only becauſe ſhe ſpoke the ſtrongeſt ſenſe, adorned by the ſofteſt eloquence; and gazed on her with rapture, only becauſe ſhe was exquiſitely beautiful. Your friendly letter brought me the firſt intimationof my danger: I then ſaw there was a neceſſity for my quitting her; but deceived myſelf ſo far, as to think it would be more prudent to ſtay at Hermitage— where ſhe was to remain but two days— than to go to London, where ſhe was going. I did not think of the affair that ſhould have called me there; nor how eaſy it is, in fuch a place, to avoid a perſon that does not ſeek you. Harriet's illneſs prolonged her ſtay. I ought to have gone—it [Page 121] was impoſſible!—ſo firmly had love, in ſilken fetters, bound my ſoul!

At firſt, my conſcience reminded me of my engagements, and reproached me with giving to another what was Miſs Ormſby's due; but I ſoon learned to ſtifle its admonitions: and the lovely Valeria's tender and affectionate care of my poor ſiſter, though little more than a ſtranger to her; her unremitting endeavours to amuſe her; afforded me ſo many opportunities of admiring the goodneſs of her heart, that I almoſt thought I was in the right to love her. Ah! how cautious ought we to be of familiarizing ourſelves to what we diſapprove! ſince we thereby confound the notions of right and wrong in our minds, and utterly loſe that nice diſcernment, which at firſt marked out the boundaries of each, and that delicate ſenſibility which ſhrunk from the appearance of evil.

Cruel powers!—A letter from lady Conway —impertinent woman!

I have not patience to write another word.

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 122]

A FORTNIGHT away! and not been with my father yet! O thou ‘froſty ſpirited’ fellow! Were I Hannah, I ſhould revoke the ſoft conſent you are ſo ſlow to take advantage of.

We ſhall ſoon be in town, if we can ſpirit up this ſtupid Sir James to come with us, or prevail on him to let us go without him. O, if women were wiſe, they would never part with liberty, as long as they retained youth and beauty! To be cooped up in the country, when one has a mind to flaunt about in the metropolis!—inſufferable!

We are immerſed in ſtupidity: not a man to flirt with, or a woman worth railing at.— Sir James is now trotting about his grounds; Hannah ſauntering through the garden; where I ſuppoſe ſhe would ſay—if it had not been ſaid a thouſand times already—

[Page 123]
"The hills, the groves, the ſtreams remain;
"But Damon here I ſeek in vain!"

For my part, I do nothing at all; and this dull ſcene is repeated day after day: ſo, for any thing I can ſee to the contrary, the vapours muſt ſoon put an end to the exiſtence of

EMILY CONWAY.

[Page 124]

IT is impoſſible to expreſs my concern for you, my dear friend. Is there no way of freeing you from this fatal engagement? If it be in my power to ſerve you, I intreat you to command me without reſerve. Suppoſe I was to pay a viſit to Miſs Ormſby, and pretend, from a concern for your happineſs, to betray your ſecrets to her, by candidly informing her of your ſituation.— Has ſhe, do you think, generoſity enough to reſign you? Or Louiſa, I fancy, could manage this nice affair with more delicacy and addreſs.

If you are determined to marry her, I conjure you, if you have the ſlighteſt regard for your future repoſe, forbear to viſit her rival. The more ſuch a woman as Miſs O'Bryen is known, the more ſhe muſt be loved.

[Page 125] I ſhould have gone to you, inſtead of writing, but my poor little boy is not well, and Louiſa very uneaſy about him. Let me know, however, if I can do any thing for you; and, depend upon it, my tenderneſs for them ſhall not render me indifferent to the intereſts of my friend.

Sincerely yours. METHUEN.

[Page 126]

WHAT a project! Let me add—how unworthy of my friend!—Heavens! did you think me capable of acting ſuch an ungenerous part?—I am reſolved to marry her; in other words, I am reſolved to be miſerable: better to be any thing than a ſcoundrel. I forged the galling fetters for myſelf;—honour, inexorable honour, commands me to wear them, and I muſt obey her. Yes, I will bind myſelf to one woman, whilſt I burn, languiſh—die for another. Let not theſe unguarded expreſſions lead you to think, I love Miſs O'Bryen in a manner unworthy of her. O, my paſſion for her, is as pure as the dew-drops that reſt on the boſom of the lily.

I have written to lady Conway, to apologize for my negligence. I ventured to defer my wretchedneſs a little, by poſtponing my application to Mr. Ormſby till ſhe comes to town.

[Page 127] While I was at Hermitage, I had not the courage to think of Miſs Ormſby; my ſiſter, therefore, was totally ignorant of my affairs. As I did not think it would be uſing her well, to ſuffer her to remain ſo any longer, I wrote to her yeſterday evening. I would not let her perceive I was melancholy; but, on the contrary, affected a gaiety, that was far—oh! very far—from my heart: nor did I once mention Miſs O'Bryen's too dear name; not that I ſhould heſitate to confide in her, but becauſe I know her unbounded affection for me would make her miſerable, if ſhe knew the half of what I ſuffer; and I would not add a feather's weight to the load of woe ſhe bears, to be for ever exempt from ſorrow. By the return of my ſervant, this morning, I have her anſwer. What penetration women have! Let me give you an extract from her letter:

‘Though to ſee you united to ſome worthy woman, has long been the favourite wiſh of my heart, yet, I own, I am far from being pleaſed to find you ſo much nearer matrimony, than I imagined [Page 128] you were. Miſs Ormſby may—nay, ſince ſhe is your choice, ſhe muſt be amiable; but I am poſitive ſhe is not equal to my dear Valeria. Indeed, Edward, you have deceived me ſtrangely: never will I pretend to read the heart again, ſince Miſs O'Bryen is not the miſtreſs of your's. You have greatly diſappointed me; I had abſolutely ſet my heart on an union between you and this lovely girl. Till I knew her, I never wiſhed you to attach yourſelf to a beauty; as I believe they have generally more foibles, than fall to the ſhare of almoſt any other denomination of females: but ſhe ſeems to have no faults. How was it poſſible for you, when you ſaw and heard her, to retain a thought of Miſs Ormſby? I am certain you did forget her for the time; and I heartily wiſh you had forgotten her for ever. Such a ſuperior creature as Valeria would have juſtified inconſtancy. Though ſhe has no fortune, I had rather ſee you married to a deſcendant of the families of Sedley and [Page 129] O'Bryen, than to a merchant's daughter with millions!’

And has not my Valeria a fortune? O, ye unpitying powers! why am I not at liberty to lay mine at her feet? What value has money, compared to her worth? I cannot deſcribe to you the variety of tormenting ſenſations, every paſſage of Harriet's letter excites: between it, and my own reflections, I am really little leſs than diſtracted. I am almoſt reduced to envy thoſe holiday coxcombs that I meet dancing up and down the ſtreets, whoſe ſuperficial minds admit not of anxious thoughtfulneſs. Inſenſibility, it is true, ſhuts out refined and delicately pleaſurable ſenſations; but ſecures them, likewiſe, from their attendant pains. Inſipid ſtate, however! and to be wiſhed for only by wretches, who, like me, are doomed to miſery that can end but with life.

To be in London, and not to go to lord Linfield's, is impoſſible. I ſhall take a ride to Poplar-hill to-morrow, and ſtay with you till lady Conway, &c. come to town. I hope to find your ſweet Arthur recovered. [Page 130] O, Methuen! how bleſt is your ſituation, poſſeſſed of ſuch a ſon, and ſuch a wife — A wife, who was the woman of your choice!—My God! I ſhall ſet myſelf mad at laſt!

Farewell, my dear Auguſtus. Do not think I envy you; be aſſured, envy never yet had a place in the breaſt of

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 131]

O, VALERIA! why did I ſuffer you to go? Why accept your too generous reſignation of the moſt amiable of men?— Unavailing reſignation! You did not— could not—reſign his heart. He is miſerable: —how I reproach myſelf for being the cauſe! He makes me the confidante of his ſorrows; ſays he has no conſolation but in my friendſhip. Injured St. Clair!—If you knew all, how muſt you deſpiſe and hate me! My dear, generous Valeria! I intreat and conjure you, never let him know my mean ſelfiſhneſs. But I am convinced you will not: you are too noble-minded to ſeek to raiſe your own merit, by comparing it with another's baſeneſs. What a preſumptuous creature I was, to ſuppoſe it poſſible for me to ſupplant you! Do not triumph over me: alas! I am but too much humbled already.

[Page 132] I muſt endeavour to make my future conduct atone for my paſt. I will ſtrive to ſuppreſs a paſſion ſo unworthy of its object: —a paſſion that has ruined him! Oh! the ſmart of this reflection is not to be borne! —remove it—my tender, pitying friend— remove this agonizing thought! I have propoſed to the marquis, to follow you to England; promiſing to write to you, and to intreat my brother and ſiſter in his favour. I have already written to my brother; yet ſurely it was unneceſſary;—can St. Clair want any eloquence but his own to plead for him? If you have pity, if you have gratitude, if you know how to diſtinguiſh merit, if all the graces that can adorn a human being can move you,— ſpeak peace to this charming mourner. I adjure you, by all the ſacred friendſhip you have promiſed me, make this deſerving lover happy. The marchioneſs, his mother, is ill: as ſoon as ſhe recovers, he will haſten to throw himſelf at your feet. If you refuſe him,—never again account yourſelf the friend of

LEONORA MARCHMONT.

[Page 133]

You will be ſorry to hear lady Mary Enmore is married againſt her mother's conſent. She has left France with her huſband. I know not whether they went to England or Ireland; but I believe it was to the former. Lady Enmore is greatly incenſed againſt her.

[Page 134]

I "TRIUMPH over you!" Ah! Leonora, how little do you know me! Nor do I think I have cauſe to triumph;— ſenſible, as I am, that love much oft'ner flows from the caprice of a lover, than the merit of the object beloved. But why, my dear girl, are you ſo ſoon diſcouraged? Did you think he could transfer his affection in a few days? You muſt give him time to forget his firſt paſſion;—you muſt ſteal imperceptibly into his heart. Have patience, my friend; continue your friendſhip to him; conſole him, but forbear to cheriſh his hopes: it was your wild project of ſending him to England that has thus far impeded your ſucceſs. If you will purſue the plan I take the liberty to trace out to you, I am perſuaded you cannot fail of attaching him to you, and that more ſtrongly than he ever was to me. Gratitude, that amiable affection, which ſo powerfully ſways the generous [Page 135] mind, will exert all its influence for you; and give you, on his underſtanding, on his honour, and his heart, a tie—additional to any I ever could have had.

May I tell you, Miſs Marchmont, you are induſtrious to torment yourſelf? Why, elſe, thoſe extravagant ſelf-accuſations? What is the mighty injury you have done Monſ. de St. Clair?—Deprived him of a woman, who has not a ſhilling of fortune in the world:—a woman who felt no tenderer ſentiments for him, than thoſe which friendſhip dictated; and, in exchange, you give him riches and love.

I ſhall now take a ſeparate paper, which I inſiſt on your ſhewing to the marquis.

How, my Leonora, have I forfeited the place I held in your affection? Or, rather how has Monſieur de St. Clair attained a higher one? And a higher one he certainly does poſſeſs, or you would never have thought of making my acceptance of him the condition of the continuance of your [Page 136] friendſhip to me. You are cruel, my friend; you are unjuſt. Can I command the emotions of my heart? Does not the marquis's giving way to a paſſion, he ought for every reaſon to conquer, tell you that love is involuntary? And if it be ſo hard to deſtroy— is it, do you think, eaſy to create? I eſteem him, I admire him;—but ſtill, it is only eſteem—it is only admiration—without a ſingle ſpark of love. I ſhall venture to leave it even to your partial deciſion, whether or not, with theſe cold, unchangeably cold ſentiments, I ought to give him my hand?

When I firſt knew him, I preferred him to every other male acquaintance. The friendſhip he profeſſed for me, pleaſed and flattered me. He ſpoke not of love; and if his behaviour ſometimes indicated it, I attributed it to the gallantry of his nation. He kept me a long time in this agreeable error; I believe by lady Enmore's advice, who knew my diſpoſition, and rightly ſuppoſed, that a declaration on his part, would be followed by a refuſal on mine. At length, ſhe thought proper to propoſe him to me, as a [Page 137] match every way deſirable, and greatly above any thing my circumſtances in life could warrant me to expect. Her arguments were chiefly drawn from prudence; yet ſhe did not fail to do juſtice to his merit, though without poſitively aſſerting—like another fair advocate of his—that he had ‘all the graces that can adorn a human being!’ Ah! Leonora, I would to Heaven he had! 'twould be well for my peace, if—But, to return to my ſubject: —Wearied by lady Enmore's importunities, I with difficulty conſented to deliberate on the matter for a month. I exacted, in return for this conceſſion, that ſhe would not let him know ſhe had mentioned the affair to me at all. In this, however, I have good reaſon to believe ſhe did not keep her word with me; for he—flattered, without doubt, by my conduct—threw off the reſtraint he had hitherto worn, and talked to me inceſſantly of his paſſion. I was ſo far moved by my ſenſibility of his worth, that I determined with myſelf to endeavour to love him: but inſtead of being able to effect this; I found I liked him [Page 138] leſs, after I had made the reſolution, than before. I was uſed to welcome him as a friend;—I now ſhunned him as a creditor, who demanded of me what he had a juſt title to, but what it was not in my power to pay him. The promiſe which had been extorted from me, conſtrained me to liſten to him. My indefatigable friend, lady Enmore, took advantage of the time ſhe had gained, to write to my aunt Chetwynd, whoſe aſcendant over my mind ſhe was no ſtranger to. In effect, my aunt wrote to me, and approved the marquis's addreſſes; but it was only on condition, if I approved them myſelf: and, leſt her letter ſhould influence me too much, ſhe even adviſed me not to marry him, unleſs I loved him. I balanced no longer; but determining to break off the matter at once, I left France; thinking I could not take a more effectual method of reſtoring St. Clair that peace, which I was ſincerely grieved to have in any meaſure deprived him of. After this deciſive ſtep, I am aſtoniſhed to be told he can entertain any hopes of me; even though you ſhould have left him to imagine [Page 139] my going was occaſioned by my aunt Chetwynd's writing to me to come home with the Domville family; which, you know, was the oſtenſible reaſon of my departure. —I cannot help thinking you have greatly ſoftened the refuſal I commiſſioned you to give him: it was polite, indeed—at leaſt I intended it ſhould be ſo—but it was peremptory; it was ſuch as would not have encouraged him to follow me. If he chuſes to come to England, I cannot prevent him: but that I may not in any reſpect be the object of his voyage, I declare ſolemnly, if he comes, I will not ſee him.

I ſlatter myſelf you are too juſt to be offended at my paying ſo little regard to your threats and intreaties on this ſubject, when I tell you, that my uncle and aunt Chetwynd have acknowledged to me, it would have made them miſerable, had I married a foreigner. After this, I ſhould refuſe Monſieur de St. Clair without heſitating, were he dearer to me than the ‘ruddy drops that warm my heart.’ I am ſure he himſelf would confeſs, that I ought to do ſo, if he knows any thing of my obligations [Page 140] to them. They have been more than parents to me, ever ſince it pleaſed the Almighty to deprive me of my father and mother. Their pecuniary favours to me, only, conſidered—without mentioning their affection, their indulgence, the graceful manner of giving which, doubles the gift, —I ſay, their pecuniary favours, only, conſidered, I ſhould be the baſeſt and moſt ungrateful of human kind, were I capable of voluntarily giving a moment's pain to the honourable donors.

It has juſt come into my head, to deſire you to let the marquis peruſe this letter. If he be offended at the freedom wherewith I have treated him, let him conſider, that the ſubject required plain dealing. I ſet a high value on his friendſhip; but I would rather loſe it, than poſſeſs his love.

Notwithſtanding your threats, my dear Leonora, I am bold enough to ſubſcribe myſelf,

Your affectionate friend, VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 141]

I grieve for poor lady Mary. I have a letter from her mother, which gives me much reaſon to fear it will be no eaſy matter to reconcile them. Excluding the moſt unhappy circumſtance of being at variance with a parent, the little runaway will ſtill be a conſiderable ſufferer, as ſhe has but ten thouſand pounds independent of lady Enmore.

[Page 142]

‘DOES Sir Edward Marchmont love my Valeria?’—Dear madam, why did you aſk this queſtion? You know not how ſenſibly it mortified me. Yet I will anſwer it with ſincerity;—he does not; and I had believed he did.—Let me, my honoured, my beloved friend, confeſs to you all my folly.—While I was at Hermitage, Sir Edward's behaviour to me was ſuch, that it was almoſt impoſſible for me not to imagine myſelf dear to him. This fatal perſuaſion made me little careful to ſhut my heart againſt him. Mrs. Wentworth's inſinuations confirmed my error: but ſhe, I am convinced, was very far from having any intention to deceive me; ſhe was deceived herſelf. The tender and conſtant attention, the delicate compliments he paid me, ſeemed to have their ſource in his heart: he followed me every where, without appearing to know that he did ſo: it [Page 143] could not be mere chance, that always placed his chair next mine: if his hand accidentally touched mine, he trembled: he would frequently heave deep ſighs, even in the midſt of a chearful converſation; and look on me with a tenderneſs, which unneceſſarily borrowed from melancholy, an additional power to touch the ſoul. This deſcription, far from being exaggerated, is really imperfect: judge from it, if I had not reaſon to think he loved me.

To apologize, in ſome ſort, for my weakneſs, I will draw you a faint picture—for a faint one it muſt be—of this accompliſhed man:

Sir Edward Marchmont is indiſputably one of the beſt made men in England; tall, rather ſlender, and inimitably proportioned; his perſon gives the joint ideas. of, ſtrength and activity, dignity and gracefulneſs. His face is ſtrikingly handſome; though not regularly ſo: a clear brown complexion; roſy lips; white and even teeth; open forehead; arched brow; and dark hazel eyes, penetrating, ſparkling with vivacity and good-humour, and, when he pleaſes, ſeducingly [Page 144] tender. His addreſs is moſt polite; manly, but not forward. No pen can deſcribe the varied charms of his converſation. Would you form an idea of it? —Imagine every thing that ſound ſenſe, extenſive knowledge, lively wit, and generouſly warm feelings can dictate; dreſſed in the moſt elegant words, that language can furniſh.

Allow me to add a moſt romantic excuſe, for a romantic paſſion:—Hermitage is the very land of love: Nature has dealt it beauties with a laviſh hand; which have been heightened and improved by the taſte of its owner. The wild variety of the ſcene delights and ſurpriſes the eye.—The Spring had thrown her verdant mantle o'er the lawns; and thoſe early flowers, of haſty duration,—meſſengers of Spring, to announce the coming Summer—ſhed their grateful perfumes around. The pleaſing ſtillneſs of the new—and then but halfdreſſed groves, was interrupted only by caſcades; gurgling ſtreams; and the notes of euphony and gladneſs, poured forth by the little feathered ſongſters.—Rural delights [Page 145] create a placid ſerenity in the mind, which is wonderfully favourable to love; and the ſweet ſadneſs inſpired by pity, in beholding the unfortunate miſtreſs of this charming place, gives a ſoftneſs to the heart, which diſpoſes it eaſily and deeply to receive the impreſſions of a virtuous paſſion.

I wrote the above yeſterday; and have read it over this morning with bluſhes. I was going to deſtroy it, but reſtrained myſelf: my friend, my parent, you have a right to my confidence; and never will I defraud you of it. I have ever found you a far more indulgent monitor, than that within my own breaſt. I have erred deeply; but not inexcuſably; and I will—yes, madam, I will recover my paſt involuntary miſconduct: your Valeria will ‘act like herſelf!’ with pride I quote this ſentence from one of your affectionate letters.

To ſpare myſelf the pain of renewing this dangerous ſubject, I ſend you a letter [Page 146] of Mrs. Wentworth's: ſhe has been my correſpondent ever ſince I left her.

Is it not ſurpriſing, that Sir Edward did not fix his choice on a woman of family?

‘And why ſurpriſing? A merchant's daughter, in the eyes of reaſon and religion —’

But in the eyes of the world, madam, ſhe will diſgrace the Marchmont blood.

"Such things are done every day."

True; but for what are they done? Neceſſity or avarice: the firſt cannot be Sir Edward's motive, and he has a ſoul above the laſt. He loves her then; 'tis very plain; he can have no other inducement.— I relapſe into folly.—Forgive me.—'Tis the laſt time.—I now quit the ſubject for ever. Nor my pen, nor my thoughts, ſhall dwell on him more.

I cannot tell you what ſtay I ſhall make here. Mr. Domville talks of ſetting out ſoon for Ireland; but the Linfield family will not hear of our going. Obſerve, I include myſelf. I have the honour to ſtand very high in Lady Linfield's good grace: and am a ſingular favourite with his lordſhip; [Page 147] who very confidently ſwears, I am the handſomeſt woman in the world.

You aſk me news of Lady Mary Enmore—Webſter, I mean:—I know nothing more concerning her, than her mother has already told you. I flatter myſelf I need not ſay what anſwer I intend to give to Lady Enmore's too generous propoſition. God forbid I ſhould ever accept what ought to be the property of another! Far from the meanneſs of uſurping Lady Mary's place in her mother's favour, I ſhall do every thing in my power to reſtore her to it: even at the hazard of diſobliging Lady Enmore, for whom I have a high conſideration.

Adieu. I am going, with Lady Linfield and Lady Lucy, to pay half a hundred formal viſits: do you not envy

Your VALERIA O'BRYEN?

[Page 148]

WHEN mere compliments daily exhauſt the language that ſhould be ſacred to friendſhip, and unfelt and undue thanks are given in the moſt weighty and ſignificant form of words, it becomes impoſſible for a ſincere and juſtly grateful heart to expreſs its feelings. I muſt then, my dear lady Enmore, forbear to make you thoſe acknowledgements I owe to your generoſity; conſcious of my utter incapacity to pay them as I ought. But I expect you will do me the juſtice to believe, I have the deepeſt ſenſe of your kindneſs to me.

I intreat you not to be offended, that I frankly tell you, I cannot accept your offer:—I dare not; it would be robbery! While you have a child, or a grandchild, in the world, nothing ſhall prevail on me to take any part of your fortune.

I have, a long time, honoured myſelf by regarding you on the equal ground of [Page 149] friendſhip: excuſe me, that I am unwilling now to deſcend from this height, and look up to you as a benefactreſs. 'Tis true, you ſeek to ſoften the idea of dependance, by calling me daughter; but it will not do. Pardon the pride of noble blood. It was not till after many painful ſtruggles, I could conſent to be ſupported by my uncle Chetwynd. The inexpreſſible delicacy of his conduct to me, at length reconciled me to receiving unreturnable obligations; and at preſent my gratitude is even pleaſurable; but I muſt ſay, I ſhould not chuſe to have any other hand beſtow the like favours.— Wrong me not ſo much, as to ſuppoſe, I at all doubt your delicacy: but relationſhip makes a wide difference, in this caſe, between Mr. Chetwynd and your ladyſhip.

Were it neceſſary to multiply excuſes for my unavoidable refuſal, I might add, that my aunt Chetwynd would have good reaſon to accuſe me of ingratitude, were I to chuſe any other mother than herſelf. See! madam, I have both a father and a mother!— Poor lady Mary has no father; and you would deprive her of her mother!

[Page 150] I am ſenſible that it muſt be a very trying thing, when the object of the tender cares, and fond anxieties of years, by an imprudent marriage, blaſts all thoſe long-cheriſhed, high expectations, which a parent naturally entertains for a beloved child. But who is the perſon injured by this raſh ſtep? —The party who takes it, undoubtedly. Will it be juſtifiable then, my friend, to puniſh your daughter with your everlaſting diſpleaſure, becauſe ſhe has ruined herſelf?

Mr. Webſter, you ſay, is meanly born; has diſſipated his fortune and reputation:— a dreadful character! What countenance will be neceſſary to lady Mary, to ſcreen her from the cenſures of the world!—from the contempt and ill-treatment of the very man, to whom ſhe has ſacrificed ſo much! Can you, who have hitherto been her beſt friend, forſake her in that critical conjuncture, when ſhe moſt wants your aſſiſtance? —yes, more than in the helpleſs days of infancy. I beg you to conſider, how much your neglect will put her in her huſband's power: and by your own account of him, it is too probable he will abuſe his advantages. [Page 151] —O, do not, by your ſeverity, increaſe all the miſeries that may be conſequent on her miſconduct.

I aſk no more for this giddy couple, at preſent, than forgiveneſs and friendſhip. I would by no means recommend it to you, to give them up any part of your fortune, nor even to promiſe it; only forbear to ſay you will not make them your heirs, and Mr. Webſter muſt naturally ſuppoſe you will. The conſideration of his own intereſt will induce him to behave well to his wife: and perhaps his reſpect, eſteem, and gratitude, may empower you to influence him to a reformation of his life. I ſtrongly adviſe you to make no diſpoſition of your fortune at preſent. Settle it, at your death, on lady Mary and her children. If you do not give it to her, to whom will you give it? The perſons that would accept it, in prejudice to her rights, would, by that ſingle action, prove themſelves unworthy of it: and ſure you will, at leaſt, ſhew a preference to your daughter, amongſt the undeſerving! Can you, with a ſafe conſcience, bequeath an eſtate you received from lord [Page 152] Enmore, to any other than lord Enmore's only child? The diſcretionary power he left you, was not, I imagine, in any caſe, to deprive lady Mary of his fortune; but ſolely to reſtrain her from the very fault, which, notwithſtanding his caution, ſhe has unhappily committed. He, doubtleſs, depended on your tenderneſs for her. Will you, then, betray the truſt repoſed in you by one of the beſt, and fondeſt of huſbands? Would it not be diſhonourable? Would it not be diſhoneſt?

Pardon me, deareſt lady Enmore, that, for a moment waving the reſpect due to your ſuperior underſtanding and maturer years, I have preſumed to offer you my advice. Be aſſured, the very great liberties I have taken with you, were dictated by real eſteem;—by that honeſt affection and warm gratitude, with which I have the honour to be,

Your ladyſhip's much obliged, VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 153]

MADAM,

THE letter which I have the honour to incloſe, will, I hope, ſufficiently apologize for this liberty.

I cannot blame Miſs Marchmont for ſeeking to form a connection between you, and a man, who appears to her ſo amiable: but I wiſh—I very much wiſh—ſhe had not fixed on me for his advocate. I poſſeſs none of the perſuaſive powers of eloquence; and if I did, neither my honour, nor my conſcience, would allow me to uſe them in the cauſe of a perſon, whoſe character I know only by the report of a—perhaps partial —friend. On ſuch grounds, I could not recommend a man to any lady's choice; much leſs to Miſs O'Bryen!—the woman on earth—in whoſe happineſs I am moſt intereſted.

You may perhaps be ſurprized, that I did not make an earlier application to you; [Page 154] as you will perceive by the date of my ſiſter's letter, that I muſt have been in poſſeſſion of it ſeveral days. I was embarraſſed—extremely embarraſſed—how to interfere in a matter of ſuch nicety. I came, at laſt, to the reſolution of ſending you the letter itſelf. Nothing need be added to what Miſs Marchmont ſays of the marquis de St. Clair: —I dare not—cannot plead for him.

It would be highly preſumptuous to deſire to know your determination; yet, madam, allow me to requeſt—moſt earneſtly and reſpectfully to requeſt—this mark of your confidence: I ſhall eſteem it as a ſingular favour:—have the goodneſs, the condeſcenſion, to relieve my anxious heart. I am deeply concerned—you know not— alas! you will never know—how deeply I am concerned. Pardon the confuſion of my ſtyle. I find no expreſſions to do juſtice to the warmth of my friendſhip.

May the happy—the ſupremely happy man, you ſhall honour with your regard, have as lively a ſenſe of you tranſcendant merit, as

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 155]

IT is a ſenſible ſatisfaction to me, that you did not join with Miſs Marchmont:— to have been unmoved by your united perſuaſions, muſt have given me an air of obſtinacy.

Give me leave, Sir Edward, to ſet you right in your opinion of the marquis de St. Clair. My friend is not partial, ſhe is only juſt to his merit, which is really uncommon. Gratitude obliges me to make this acknowledgment, though it reproaches my inſenſibility.

Your profeſſions of friendſhip demand my warmeſt thanks. Be aſſured, your eſteem is eſſential to the happineſs of

VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 156]

SUPPORT me! my ineſtimable friend! —Pride has hitherto been my chief prop, on that "weak ſide, where moſt our nature fails;" and pride no longer aids me. I bluſhed at the meanneſs of beſtowing my heart on a man to whom I was indifferent, who even loved another. Fatally for my peace, I am now convinced that I am the miſtreſs of his affections; although forſome cauſe, to me unknown, he is obliged to give his hand to Miſs Ormſby. I incloſe you the copy of a letter I received from him this morning. I dare not make any comments.—Yet, pardon me, I muſt. It is evident to me, that Sir Edward's mind was ill at eaſe when he wrote that letter; every expreſſion betrays diſquiet:—he was "extremely embarraſſed:"—there was nothing in the affair that could have embarraſſed an indifferent perſon. Does he not ſeem diſpleaſed with his ſiſter? Yet he is [Page 157] not uſed to take offence without a cauſe.— Why ſhould he—the moſt generous-minded of men—ſuſpect her of partiality, in praiſing a gentleman, whom he has no reaſon to ſuppoſe undeſerving of her encomiums? Then, his extreme deſire to know my determination! —does he not even intimate, that he is "deeply concerned" in it?—‘Relieve my anxious heart!’—I would to Heaven it was in my power! What—oh! what would I not do to reſtore him that tranquillity, which muſt for ever be a ſtranger to my own breaſt?

I cannot write—my tears blot the paper. —Pity

Your VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 158]

WE came to town yeſterday. Sir James called at your houſe this morning, and there learned you were at lord Methuen's ſeat. Are you not a ſtrange fellow, Sir Edward? Upon my life, one would almoſt imagine you were ſhunning us. However, I ſuppoſe you will now venture to London, as we are here to introduce you to Mr. Ormſby. You were too ſhamefaced to introduce yourſelf!—Dear! how modeſt it is!

"On your allegiance, Marchmont,
"By all your hopes, I do command you, come."

A fine girl, worth forty thouſand pounds, is not an object to be trifled with. I am already aſtoniſhed that Hannah has not forgotten you, ſo many weeks as you have [Page 159] been abſent. Now, two hours in a city, four in a country town, and two days in ſolitude, would be the utmoſt limits to the conſtancy of a woman of ſpirit, of an

EMILY CONWAY.

[Page 160]

TIME ever flies on leaden wings, when my Louiſa is abſent. I have been but a week away from you; ſo ſays the almanack; but my heart contradicts it. How ſolitary is this houſe without you!—how ſilent without my prattling boy!

Our dear Marchmont is with me; I would not ſuffer him to go to his own houſe; I do not leave him a moment alone; his is not the kind of grief that ſhould be indulged. I endeavour to lead him into agreeable company—into amuſing diſſipation. All will not do: a ſettled melancholy has taken poſſeſſion of his mind. In preſence of the Ormſby family, he ſtrives to aſſume an air of ſprightlineſs, but with ſo little ſucceſs, that I am aſtoniſhed they do not diſcover his affectation. Miſs Ormſby muſt have very little penetration, or a great deal of vanity, if ſhe can believe he loves [Page 161] her. From my ſoul I pity him: condemned to feign a paſſion that he does not feel, and to conceal one that preys—ah! my Louiſa, I fear—upon his life. He reproaches himſelf with weakneſs. For my part, I am aſtoniſhed at the noble firmneſs, wherewith he ſacrifices the deareſt wiſhes of his heart to motives of generoſity and honour. Yet I ſincerely wiſh he had been leſs determined. Now, indeed, it is too late to retract: but before he came to town, I think he might have made an effort to free himſelf from this moſt irkſome bondage. I could not bring him over to my opinion: perhaps he was in the right. In his ſituation, I ſhould probably have thought—though I might not have been able to act—like him. If I have any knowledge of my heart, it would be apter to dupe my judgment in my friend's favour than in my own.

You aſk my opinion of the Ormſby family. —To begin with Mr. Ormſby:—he is a plain, ſenſible, good kind of man; has rather more of the merchant than the gentleman in his manners.

[Page 162] Mrs. Ormſby has more politeneſs, and leſs underſtanding than her huſband. She has been very pretty in her time; and, unfortunately, thinks herſelf ſo ſtill: pays the moſt critical attention to her dreſs, and gives herſelf ſeveral little airs, that would better ſuit her daughters.

Every one allows, that youth is the monopolizer of beauty. How comes it, then, that women who have been handſome in their younger years, carry the idea of their lovelineſs into advanced life? Yet how, indeed, can it be expected they ſhould perceive the gradual decay of their beauty, when they are inſenſible of the progreſs of their years?

"'Tis greatly wiſe to know, before we're told,
"The melancholy news that we grow old."

Aye, or to believe it when told. Why cannot women's ambition be directed rather to the embelliſhment of their minds, than their forms? What a happineſs it would be, if the beauty of all females was, like lady Methuen's, eclipſed by the ſuperior [Page 163] brightneſs of their underſtandings! Age, then, inſtead of ſtealing away all their charms, would only deprive them of ſome trifling, extrinſic advantages, and beſtow ſome intrinſically valuable ones in their room. TIME is, in the main, a generous robber: with one hand, indeed, he wreſts from us part of our property, whether we will or not; but with the other, he offers us more than double the worth of what he takes: it is at our own option to accept, or refuſe his liberality; but if we refuſe it, we have only ourſelves to blame.

Amongſt thoſe who have more to fear from the predatory hand of Time, than to hope for from his bounteous one, I think we may fairly rank lady Conway. She is what her mother has been; and, if I do not miſtake, will be what her mother is. I would not be united to ſuch a woman for kingdoms;—ſo volatile, ſo gay, ſo vain and inconſiderate; ſo politely inattentive to her huſband, and, at the ſame time, ſo very attentive to other men—Take care of your forehead, my good Sir James; if horns will grow out of lead, you have but [Page 164] a ſorry chance of eſcaping ſuch an ornament. It is a faſhionable one, however; and that is ſome conſolation. Luckily, he does not care three-pence for his wife; which, for the repoſe of my ſex, I heartily wiſh was the caſe of every honeſt man, who has the ill fortune to be married to a coquette.

As to Miſs Ormſby herſelf, I need ſay little more, than that Sir Edward's deſcription of her—which, without doubt, you remember—was a very juſt one. I really believe her to be an amiable girl; yet, ſtill, ſtill ſhe is not worthy of Marchmont! There is nothing exalted in her character: her talents, her underſtanding, are not above the common level.—In a word, ſhe is not an O'Bryen! He would never have diſtinguiſhed her, but from the perſuaſion that he was neceſſary to her happineſs, A few more ſuch examples, and your ſex would no longer accuſe mine of the ingratitude, or caprice, or cruelty; of continually deſpiſing the woman who loves unaſked.

Yeſterday—Marchmont being fortunately engaged at Mr. Ormſby's—I [Page 165] dined with our friend dean Domville. The company was compoſed of his elder brothers, lord Linfield, and Mr. Domville; their ladies; Miſs O'Bryen, the young counteſs dowager of Severn, Mr. and Mrs. Warner, and two or three young gentlemen, who vied with each other in rendering the lowlieſt homage to the awe-creating, but all-attractive charms of the fair Hibernian, who treated them all with equal politeneſs, and equal indifference. In vain did the majeſtic beauty diſregard their attention; in vain did the languiſhing eyes of the right honourable widow court it: 'twas impoſſible for Miſs O'Bryen to be unnoticed; 'twas impoſſible for any other woman to be taken notice of in her preſence.

I perfectly agree with you, Louiſa, that this fine young creature poſſeſſes a mind equal to her form. She ſpoke but little at the dean's, and that on common topics; but I want no other proof of her good ſenſe, than her being ſo totally devoid of vanity. How unconſcious does ſhe appear of her ſuperlative lovelineſs! How undeſirous of admiration! What a dignified modeſty in [Page 166] her deportment! Certainly ſhe is a moſt charming woman. Ah! why was ſhe not deſtined for my deſerving friend?

I ſhould not forget to tell you, Miſs O'Bryen enquired for you in ſuch a manner, as convinces me you have a place in her friendſhip. I am ſorry, very ſorry you cannot cultivate it. 'Tis well you are not in town; you could not avoid viſiting her; and I would not, for any conſideration, Sir Edward ſhould ſee her again: yet I doubt that he could love her to a greater exceſs than he does already, or be more deeply involved in conſequential miſery. I know not whether to pity or admire him moſt. To be obliged to reſign the object he adores! to wed another!—with ſo much ſenſibility, ſo much delicacy as he poſſeſſes—how painful muſt be the conflict!—how great the reſolution that enables him to make the fearful ſacrifice!

The marriage preparations are not begun; and, I conjecture, will proceed ſlowly. I ſhall not be the perſon to hurry them; I ſhall regard them with an eye of horror. O, ye immortal powers! that watch over [Page 167] the intereſts of the virtuous,—why do you ſleep?—My wretched friend!—Louiſa, my deareſt Louiſa, let us join in prayer to Heaven, to avert the woes that threaten him:—doubly difficult to borne, as they inſultingly approach under the mock viſage of joy. A wedding!—a grave would be preferable to ſuch a wedding. This ſubject harrows up my ſoul. Adieu. Write to me:—conſole me.

Here is a long, ill-connected letter. I ſhall look on a conciſe, regular anſwer, as a tacit reproof of my prolixity and ramblings.

Ever your devoted, METHUEN.

[Page 168]

YOUR "tears blot the paper!" Alas! my deareſt Valeria, ſo do mine. Come to me, my gentle, ſuffering girl; we ſhall weep together—we ſhall conſole one another: you will condemn yourſelf—you will call yourſelf weak: I will vindicate you—I will praiſe your fortitude. Leave that fatal place. Mr. Domville's ſtay is uncertain. Allow me to ſend your uncle for you. He ſhall not ſuſpect that I have any particular motive in deſiring your ſpeedy return. Write to me immediately. I ſhall not aſk him to go, till I have your permiſſion. I do not—need I tell you I do not—ſeek to controul you?

I am at Sir John O'Bryen's. He is not expected to live many days. I acknowledge I have but little ſolicitude about him; yet, as my brother, or rather as my fellow-creature, [Page 169] I am ſhocked to ſee him tottering on the verge of eternity. Shortly will he be deprived of the wealth he has been laying up, with unremitted aſſiduity, for ſo many years:—driven from all his loved poſſeſſions on earth, and ſent into a world, for which he has made no proviſion. 'Tis true, his character has not been marked by any of thoſe black actions, to which we uſually affix the appellation of crimes: his ſins have been rather thoſe of omiſſion; but a ſeries of thoſe negative ſins, are—if I dare form a judgment of them—more dangerous —at leaſt they make a man more deſpicable —than great and poſitive trangreſſions, counterbalanced by active virtue.

I am called away—Sir John is worſe.

When I was obliged to break off yeſterday evening, our unhappy relation was thought to be at the point of death. He is [Page 170] better to-day, but not ſo much as to warrant the ſlighteſt hope of his recovery.

I received a letter from you this morning. I find it dictated by the natural loftineſs of your mind, as your former one by that natural tenderneſs of heart, which ſo finely attempers it. Suffer me to expoſtulate:—my beloved, you are too ſevere! Why impoſe ſilence on yourſelf, on the ſubject of your peculiarly unfortunate—but not in the leaſt degree blameable—paſſion? Complaint is a ſweet mental anodyne: why would you deny yourſelf the uſe of it? Never can you tell your griefs to a more ſympathetic heart, than that of her you ſo often endearingly call your parent. Do not think I wiſh you to cheriſh a ſentiment that muſt be deſtructive to your happineſs: far from it; but to overcome this ſentiment, will not be the work of a moment. You cannot command your thoughts: do not, then, create for yourſelf unneceſſary pain, by endeavouring to command your pen, or rather tongue, for I truſt I ſhall ſoon be bleſt with your ſociety. Return, thou darling of my ſoul! Your dear mind is wounded. [Page 171] Can the balſamic language of friendſhip heal it? O, return, and it ſhall be poured out from the very heart of

Your inexpreſſibly affectionate CAROLINE CHETWYND.

[Page 172]

I TOLD you briefly, in my laſt, my dear madam, of my meeting with lady Mary Webſter. I have been to ſee her twice or thrice ſince. She receives me with cordiality, and ſeeming friendſhip; I ſay ſeeming—for I am ſure ſhe does not love my perſon, but knows ſhe may depend on my principles. Being unhappy, ſhe ſtands in need of a friend to conſole her; and is obliged to attach herſelf to me, for want of a more deſirable one. For my part, I ſincerely wiſh her well; I pity her; I ſhall do every thing in my power for her benefit; but I cannot ſay, I eſteem her. When I firſt knew her, I was inclined to love her: acquaintance diſcovering to me the unamiableneſs of her diſpoſition, I found I could not. While we lived together in France, my diſlike to her daily increaſed;— it really made me miſerable; it is a moſt painful thing to hate any body; and, I own [Page 173] to you, I almoſt hated her. She had ſo many mean, malicious, nameleſs ways of provoking, that had I not deſpiſed her, and reſpected her mother, ſo much as I did, I ſhould have found it very difficult to have conſtantly kept guard over a temper, ſo impatient of affront as mine naturally is. We parted with great civility on both ſides: but, I confeſs, I carried away a ſenſe of her injurious treatment. I am not revengeful; which I owe rather to education and principle, than to nature. I never return an injury, but I feel it ſtrongly, and rarely forgive it, till the perſon is in ſome ſpecies of diſtreſs, or that I have done them a kindneſs, which I catch at an opportunity of doing, with more eagerneſs than I ſhould exert in favour of one who had done me neither good nor harm. When lady Enmore propoſed to adopt me for her daughter, and to ſettle her fortune on me, in prejudice to lady Mary, all my little animoſities againſt her died within my breaſt; I felt myſelf intereſted in her welfare; I pleaded for her as I ſhould have done for a friend. Since the recommencement of our [Page 174] acquaintance in England, I find her in diſtreſs, which excites my pity, and conſequently ſtrengthens my deſire of being ſerviceable to her. She ſeems heartily to repent her raſhneſs; and complains in general of Mr. Webſter's behaviour to her. She particularly reſents his not giving way to her deſire of living in Ireland. ‘I have no friends in England,’ ſaid ſhe to me, ‘and very few acquaintances, except ſome that are worſe than none.’

A lady below to wait on me—.

It was lady Mary: ſhe is juſt gone. I have not yet recovered my ſurprize. I muſt give you our conference. —Obſerving ſhe was very melancholy, I chid her in a tender manner, for indulging low ſpirits. "I cannot help it—I cannot help it," ſaid ſhe, ſtriking her hand, with ſome degree of violence, againſt the arm of the ſofa on which ſhe leaned.

"Come, come, my friend," cried I, ‘be wiſe; at leaſt be conſiſtent: you [Page 175] thought too little before marriage; don't think too much after.’

‘Too little, indeed! I was infatuated! Would that paſt time could be recalled! —haſty actions retrieved!’

‘Why will you torment yourſelf, by vainly wiſhing for impoſſibilities? Conſult your good ſenſe, and you will find, that when an evil is without remedy, we have nothing to do, but to endeavour to bear it in the beſt manner we are able.’

‘True; but there are ſome things not to be borne:—ingratitude, for inſtance. Did I ſacrifice my fortune and my friends’ —ſure, ſhe might have added, her duty— "only to be a ſlave?"

‘Ah! my dear, your pride is ill-timed. Our ſex was not born to rule. While we are in a ſingle ſtate, we may take ſome airs on us; but when we are married, we can have no degree of merit, without meekneſs and ſubmiſſion.’

‘Heavens! do I hear this ſlaviſh maxim from the lips of my ſpirited countrywoman? —But you are not married.’

[Page 176] ‘If being married, I ſhould act in oppoſition to this ſlaviſh maxim, as you call it, I ſhould be wrong, even in my own opinion; and, conſequently, my example ought not to be followed.’

She was ſilent for ſome minutes; and then, as if unable to contain her reſentment any longer, cried, ‘Could you ſubmit to coldneſs, ſlights, and inſults? Could you bear to viſit, and be inceſſantly viſited by a rival?’

‘O, lady Mary, be cautious of giving way to jealouſy;—that cruel, deſtructive, ſelf-deluding paſſion. I know, at this moment, ſuch an inſtance of its deadly effects, as, were I at liberty to divulge to you, would oblige you to drive the fell intruder from your breaſt.’

‘Hear me, Miſs O'Bryen, only hear me, and judge if I have not cauſe for my ſuſpicions. About ten days ago, Mr. Webſter brought a lady Conway and Miſs Ormſby to pay their reſpects to me. He told me they were daughters to a great merchant of this city, to whom he had been formerly apprenticed, but had [Page 177] quitted, on an uncle bequeathing him a fortune that ſet him above trade: a fortune, by the way, of which I don't believe he has at preſent a ſingle ſhilling. I did not decline an acquaintance with theſe ladies; but he obliged me to return their viſit ſooner than I intended. Lady Conway has ſince been twice at my houſe; and her ſiſter very frequently, though I never invite nor welcome her; but, on the contrary, treat her with as much coldneſs, as it is poſſible to ſhew without being downright rude. She comes in the morning;—Webſter aſks her to ſpend the day;—I ſay nothing;— yet ſhe ſtays. Then, their mutual looks, their whole behaviour, their very words—’.

She pauſed, as expecting I ſhould ſpeak. —It was totally beyond my power. —She went on.—

‘My woman tells me there was a ſtrong attachment between my huſband and Miſs Ormſby; and that ſome improper —(ſhe believes not abſolutely criminal)— familiarities had paſſed between them; [Page 178] which being diſcovered by the father, Miſs was ſent away to a ſiſter of her mother's, who is married to a clergyman, that lives near a hundred miles from London, and her lover compelled to leave the houſe. His uncle dying ſome little time after, he made propoſals for her, and was refuſed by her father. Six months ago, my evil genius led him to Paris; and not till then was his miſtreſs permitted to return home.’

I had now collected my ſcattered ſpirits. —"And how," demanded I, ‘could your woman come by ſuch particular information of tranſactions, which, it is to be ſuppoſed, were kept very ſecret?’

‘She has a couſin that waits on Mrs. Ormſby, and is much in her confidence.’

‘So Mrs. Ormſby has the weakneſs to truſt her ſervant with matters of ſuch importance; the ſervant betrays her lady to her couſin; the couſin betrays the waiting-woman to you— How can you depend on ſuch creatures?’

‘My own obſervations confirm their veracity.’

[Page 179] ‘You ſhould diſtruſt your own obſervations: the moſt ſenſible people, when under the influence of jealouſy, often both think and act very abſurdly. I beg your ladyſhip's pardon for my freedom; but I am too much your friend to flatter you in this pernicious error. Conſider, the ſtory may have no other foundation, than the malice of Mrs. Ormſby's maid: perhaps the young lady has diſobliged her, and ſhe takes this method of being revenged; or poſſibly the whole has been fabricated by your own ſervant, in order to make herſelf of conſequence to you.’

"Pſhaw!" ſaid ſhe peeviſhly, ‘indeed, indeed, Valeria, you cannot think yourſelf as you would have me do.’

‘Why, my dear lady Mary, if theſe young people had a liking for each other, what could have prevented their marrying, when Mr. Webſter had a competent independant fortune?’

"Ormſby would not give his conſent," ſhe anſwered.

"However," ſaid I, ‘his diſapprobation muſt have been the only obſtacle to [Page 180] their union; and if ſuch a powerful temptation could not induce his daughter to break through her duty to him, can you ſuppoſe ſhe would be guilty of the far greater crime, of endeavouring to enſnare the affections of a married man?’

‘But why ſhould you think he ever aſked her to marry him againſt her father's conſent? I dare ſay he would not have taken her without a fortune. I know you will catch at this, as a proof of his not loving her; but it proves no more to me, than that his paſſion was not a generous one.’

You may be in the right, thought I: it is probable enough he would not marry the woman he liked, without money; ſince he married one he could not like, for the ſake of it.

Here a pauſe of ſeveral minutes enſued; during which ſhe looked on me with unealy earneſtneſs; and I ſat in a poſture of melancholy attention—my thoughts, I own to you, extremely diſtuibed: alas! I need not ſay why they were ſo. My God! thought I, is the amiable Marchmont deſtined to an [Page 181] union with ſuch an infamous coquette?— The cruel, the ungenerous reflection, was condemned as ſoon as formed. I blamed myſelf, for ſuffering my opinion of a ſtranger to be influenced by one I knew to be prejudiced. Slight is the foundation on which a jealous temper can build ſuſpicion: —has not the ſpotleſs purity of Harriet Wentworth been ſuſpected? I dare not, do not doubt that Miſs Ormſby is perfectly innocent. I felt my mind expand beyond the narrowneſs of partiality: my conſcious heart was elated with honeſt triumph—not over lady Mary—but over my own wayward paſſions. 'Tis mean to glory in our ſuperiority over others,—great to overcome ourſelves.

I exerted all the ſtrength of reaſoning I am miſtreſs of, to argue her ladyſhip out of her unwarrantable jealouſy:—my endeavours were quite fruitleſs.

"You talk very plauſibly," ſaid ſhe; ‘but while I have ſo much reaſon to think as I do, it is not in my power to think otherwiſe. Wherefore am I detained in England ſo much againſt my inclination? [Page 182] He drew me here at firſt, on the thinſpun pretence, that his affairs required his preſence. I did not then aſk what theſe affairs were; and if I now enquire, receive only the moſt evaſive anſwers.’

We were here interrupted by the entrance of lady Lucy Domville.

Now, my dear aunt, are you not ſurprized to find lady Mary truſting the formerly hated and envied Valeria with a ſecret, of a nature ſo mortifying to herſelf? I am convinced ſhe did not come to me with that intention; but being accidentally led into the ſubject, was incapable of reſtraining the impetuoſity of her temper. She has treated me with the confidence of a friend, however, let her motives for it be what they will; and I muſt endeavour to return it by the good offices of one. I ſhall go to her to-morrow, on purpoſe to give her the beſt advice in my power. I am apprehenſive ſhe will be ſo unguarded as to ſay ſomething to provoke her huſband; an imprudence which cannot but have diſagreeable conſequences. I ſhall ſtrive to make her believe, the behaviour ſhe thinks ſo reprehenſible, [Page 183] is only the effect of a friendſhip contracted in younger years; or, at moſt, of a tenderer paſſion ſubſided into friendſhip. This is my own opinion of the matter: were I to form any other, I ſhould conſider myſelf wanting in candour and generoſity. The moſt innocent are frequently the moſt liable to the malevolence of ſlander: ſenſible of the rectitude of their intentions, they dream not of becoming the objects of cenſure, and conſequently take no pains to guard againſt it. Prudence, with regard to this world, is perhaps a more neceſſary qualification than virtue itſelf.

Although I have already ſwelled this letter to an enormous ſize, I cannot cloſe it without informing you, I had the honour to pleaſe the duke of Granville's eye the other night, at a play. He proteſted, with great warmth, I was the moſt perfect beauty he had ever beheld; with a good deal more, to the ſame purpoſe. Dean Domville, lord Linfield's youngeſt brother, who is very well acquainted with the duke, happened to be beſide him, and ſaid pleaſantly, ‘If I could introduce your grace to that [Page 184] young lady, might I reckon upon your intereſt for the firſt vacant biſhoprick?’ He aſked my name; and upon being told, repeated it twice, with eagerneſs and emotion. ‘Pray, ſir, do you know her family?’ The dean replied, that he did not; but told him I was an Iriſhwoman: upon which he aſked no more queſtions; but appeared remarkably reſerved and thoughtful for the reſt of the evening; frequently looking on me with earneſtneſs, but drawing off his eyes, and affecting to appear unconcerned, when he thought himſelf obſerved by the dean, who was extremely puzzled to what motive to impute a behaviour that ſeemed to him ſo ſtrange. From pure curioſity, he came to lord Linfield's the next morning; gave the above recital to lady Lucy, and made ſome enquiries about me. She explained the myſtery to him; and he very kindly offered his aſſiſtance to reconcile me to his grace. I wiſh much to be on terms of friendſhip with ſo near a relation; but I ſhall not ſtoop to any mean ſubmiſſion to bring it about. I have never done any thing to diſoblige him. My [Page 185] mother married without his conſent; but ſhe married a gentleman—a man of honour, of family; one who was—nearly, at leaſt— her equal. The fault, if it becomes me to call it one in her, did by no means juſtify his ſeverity to her; and even if it did, I am not in any degree anſwerable for it. The truth is, I think he ought rather to ſeek me, than I him: yet I ſhall be contented to pay him this compliment, as he is my mother's father; but truſt me, I ſhall not forget I am the haughty Sir William O'Bryen's daughter. With all this pride, you will believe I have no great chance of ſucceeding with this proud nobleman: the affair is not of much conſequence, however. I have great reaſon to be thankful that it is not on him I am dependant; but on thoſe, who, poſſeſſed of a juſt degree of ſpirit themſelves, know how to forgive even an exuberance of it in another. I ought to be pardoned for being proud, becauſe I am poor;—rich people are without excuſe: affluence ſhould give humility;— but poverty elevates the well-born ſoul! I feel I ſhould be much leſs lofty, if I was [Page 186] rich—apropos to rich—Mr. Domville tells me, he has my uncle's orders to accommodate me with what money I may want. I have no occaſion for any at preſent: I have always three times as much as I know what to do with. I am reſolved I will not be extravagant, if I can help it, though my uncle does all he can to ſpoil me. 'Tis not eaſy for me here to ſuppreſs ſuch expreſſions of gratitude, as neither his, nor your delicate generoſity will allow me to make uſe of. My beſt friends, I do not wiſh my obligations to you cancelled; it is impoſſible they ſhould ever be ſo; but I pray that they may be paid by the ‘Giver of all good things!’—Infinite Bounty only can pay them for

VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 187]

I HAVE ſeen her! the happy Ormſby! lady Mary's rival. Ah! is ſhe no other perſon's rival?—"Down riſing miſchief!"

I found lady Mary a little indiſpoſed; ſhe did not ſee company; I ſent up my name, however, and was admitted. We had near half an hour's converſation on the laſt ſubject: her jealouſy is too deeply rooted, for me to be able to pluck it up; but I hope my counſel—to which ſhe ſeems to pay a deference—will aſſiſt her to conduct herſelf with prudence: yet when I conſider her iraſcible temper, and the mad paſſion that wholly poſſeſſes her mind, I cannot help fearing ſhe will ſay or do ſomething extravagant.—I thought it expedient to inform her Miſs Ormſby was on the point of being married;—I would not tell her to whom.

While I ſtaid with her, her ſervant entered; ‘Miſs Ormſby is below ſtairs, my lady; and begs to know if—’

[Page 188] ‘Impertinent animal! Did not I tell you, I would not ſee any body?’

"I told her ſo, madam; but—"

"Be gone—I will not—"

‘Give your lady's compliments to Miſs Ormſby,’ ſaid I, ‘and tell her ſhe will be glad to ſee her?’

The woman looked doubtful; I nodded toward the door; an imperial nod, I ſuppoſe,—ſhe left the room immediately. I apologized for the liberty I had taken; and convinced her ladyſhip it would have been in all reſpects improper to have refuſed the viſit.—With ſhame I confeſs to you, my indulgent friend, the viſit was little leſs painful to me than to her. My heart beat as Miſs Ormſby came up ſtairs,—'twas a certain malicious ſort of beating, that I cannot deſcribe. I felt a kind of predetermination to hate her:—the impulſe was involuntary; as ſuch, I hope it was not quite unpardonable: it was attended with exquiſite pain; may that atone for it!—I am convinced we can be happy only in proportion as we are good: we ſhould cultivate benevolent diſpoſitions in our own [Page 189] defence:—if hatred, envy—any evil paſſion —does but glance upon my mind, it diſturbs my internal peace. I ſhall remember this; and henceforth, when any perſon does me an injury, I ſhall forgive them on account of the miſery their own malignity occaſions them.

You will expect me to ſay ſomething of Miſs Ormſby.—She is a fine girl: tall, well made, and genteel; very fair, her features handſome; a ſoftneſs and modeſty in her looks and behaviour, that ſufficiently refute the black charge againſt her. But, indeed, that charge ſcarce needs any other refutation than its improbability: can the woman who is honoured by the addreſſes of ſuch a man as Marchmont, throw away a thought on any other of his ſex? Impoſſible! impoſſible!—Webſter is handſome— nay, very handſome; lively, yet tender and inſinuating; apparently good-humoured; has an inexhauſtible fund of chit-chat:— but Sir Edward—ah! I cannot bear the compariſon;—Sir Edward is a being of a ſuperior order.

[Page 190] Adieu; my woman tells me I have not half an hour to dreſs for dinner.

It would be more fit for me to go to bed after one o'clock in the morning, than to ſit down to ſcribble; but my mind is not ſufficiently at eaſe to allow me to ſleep: the moſt diſtreſſing incident—but I need not enter into particulars.—Poor Hamilton! I reſpect your worth; am grateful for your love; I weep for your affliction;—but, alas! it is not in my power to do more: I, too,

"—Drag a hopeleſs chain;
"And all that I inflict, endure."

What a painful thing it is, to give pain! And yet, madam, how many of our ſex are there, who make it the buſineſs of their lives, to excite wiſhes they never mean to gratify? The cenſure, indeed, muſt not ſolely fall on us,—the men are equally culpable: each ſex delights to enſnare the other. Such, O vanity! is thy power over [Page 191] the mind, that many a young perſon, who would ſhed tears of unfeigned compaſſion over a diſtreſs, far inferior to the pangs of ſlighted love, ſacrifices, without compunction, the peace of a fellow-creature, to the trifling, contemptible pleaſure of being admired. How cruel and baſe it is, to inflict the moſt poignant anguiſh, the ſenſible heart is capable of feeling, only to procure a very worthleſs and unwarrantable gratification! —Coquetry is ſo common a vice, we are not apt to look on it with the deteſtation it deſerves; but a crime loſes nothing of its original nature by becoming general; let guilt be divided and ſubdivided ten thouſand, thouſand times, its ſpecific properties will ſtill be contained within the portion of each individual.

I cannot ſpeak of coquetry, without thinking of poor lady Mary Webſter;— would not one have imagined, that nature had effectually ſecured ſuch a piece of ſtudied deformity, from the influence of vanity? No ſuch thing;—ſhe was determined to be thought handſome, in ſpite of nature, let her looking-glaſs contradict her as [Page 192] much as it pleaſed. It is none of the leaſt pernicious attributes of vanity, that ſhe is continually miſleading her ſenſeleſs votaries, to ſeek applauſe where they are worſt qualified to obtain it: lady Mary poſſeſſed a genius, which, had ſhe cultivated, would have given her a rational claim to admiration; but ſhe preferred the mere ſemblance of beauty, to the reality of underſtanding; and art was called in, to ſupply the parſimony of nature with inefficacious profuſion. But dearly has ſhe paid for her ill-judged choice: health, the firſt of earthly bleſſings, was the price of a complexion alone. That abominable paint has hurt her conſtitution extremely. Strange it is, that any body in their ſenſes ſhould barter health, even for real beauty!—Lady Enmore had apprehenſions of her being conſumptive, before I left Paris; and very rationally imputed it to her uſe of paint; which, however, ſhe could not prevail on her to lay aſide. I fear the continuance of this deſtructive practice, joined to the preſent inquietude of her mind, may have very bad effects. Probably ſhe dares not now appear [Page 193] in her natural colours—excuſe a pun— for fear of diſguſting her huſband: yet, were I a man and a huſband, I ſhould think paint more diſagreeable, than the moſt tawny ſkin Africa's ſun ever ſhone on.

After ſaying ſo much againſt artificial complexions, it behoves me not to lay myſelf open to the temptation of uſing one, by keeping ſuch bad hours.

Bon ſoir, ma tendre amie, VALERIA O'BRYEN.

[Page 194]

THOU kindeſt, tendereſt, beſt of friends!—my more than mother!—in what words ſhall I acknowledge your generous indulgence to my follies? You don't blame me—you allow me to complain—you don't expect me to conquer my unhappy love immediately. Would that I were this moment with you, that I might on my knees pour out the overflowings of my gratitude! How amiable is it thus to condeſcend to the errors of youth! When attained to the calm of life, thus to caſt back a pitying eye, to hold out a helping hand to thoſe who are ſtill toſſed by ſtormy paſſions!

I will fly to you:—my heart will not know peace, till it repoſes itſelf on your affectionate boſom. I told lady Lucy you intended ſending my uncle for me; whereupon ſhe very obligingly limited her ſtay here to a fortnight. I wiſh the time was ſhorter. I would not be in this kingdom, [Page 195] when—My God! what does it ſignify where I am—when that fatal ceremony— Oh! my heart, my breaking heart!—May he be happy!—No thought of me—I was dear to him once—do not think me vain—I am convinced he loved me:—but it is now a long time ſince he has ſeen me; not ſince he eſcorted me from Hermitage to lord Linfield's. Doubtleſs, he ſees Miſs Ormſby every day. I hardly know what I would write—O, make him happy, Heaven! —"My ſpirits ſicken!"—I muſt lay down my pen.

I had an interview with the duke of Granville this morning: thus it happened —Lady Linfield and I went to ſee Mrs. Domville: on entering the drawing-room, we found only her, the dean, and a handſome, majeſtic looking old gentleman. The dean aroſe from his ſeat with alacrity, and taking hold of my hand, ‘Come, Miſs O'Bryen, you will plead your cauſe more ſucceſsfully yourſelf than I can do. The [Page 196] duke of Granville, madam,’ leading me up to him.

I knelt:—‘It was the dying command of the beſt of mothers, that if I ever had the honour to ſee your grace, I ſhould thus intreat you—not to curſe her memory.’

He ſeemed much agitated and ſurprized at this uncommon addreſs, and remained ſilent for ſome time; then aſſuming a ſtern aſpect,—"Riſe," cried he, without even preſenting his hand to raiſe me; ‘your mother was the moſt ungrateful—’

I ſtarted up:—‘Hold, my lord; you ſhall not abuſe my mother.’

"She was devoid of gratitude," ſaid he, fiercely; ‘ſhe was devoid of duty. I renounced her, and I renounce her daughter.’

I bowed my head reſpectfully, as acquieſcing in his determination; and tears filled my eyes, in ſpite of my endeavours to ſuppreſs them. Mrs. Domville, who is one of the ſweeteſt and beſt natured women in the world, embraced me, and wept.

[Page 197] "The duke of Granville," ſaid lady Linfield warmly, ‘is the only man in the kingdom that would not be happy to call Miſs O'Bryen his relation.’

The dean, in a reſolute tone, ſaid, ‘My lord, I ſhould conſider myſelf unworthy of the ſacred character I bear, if I neglected to—’

The duke did not care to hear a remonſtrance that opened ſo formidably; and interrupted it by addreſſing himſelf to me.

‘I do not mean to treat you with rudeneſs, young lady: nevertheleſs I muſt tell you plainly, that I am determined never to admit into my family, a perſon that bears the name of O'Bryen.’

This inſult rouſed all my father's ſpirit: —"And yet, my lord," anſwered I, ‘it is a name that will always confer honour on the perſon that bears it: and I boaſt leſs of the Sedley, than the O'Bryen blood!’

‘Though I don't look on you as my relation,’ rejoined he, ‘I ſhall be your friend. Dean Domville has told me in what circumſtances your father has left [Page 198] you: I ſhall take care to make a genteel proviſion for you.’

My pride was inconceivably raiſed; and I haughtily ſaid, ‘I am ſorry your grace thought proper to make me ſuch an offer, in a manner that puts it out of my power to thank you. Do not think, my lord, that I inherit as little of Sir William O'Bryen's pride, as of his fortune. I derive from him a ſpirit—equal to your own; and will never condeſcend to receive obligations from thoſe who treat me with contempt. I ſought your friendſhip only;—you deny me that:— I diſdain your wealth. I had no mercenary views: I could have none; for my father, with his laſt breath, conjured me never to accept any thing from you; and the utmoſt degree of indigence could not tempt me to break his command. Nor do I need your aſſiſtance: I have an uncle, on whom I depend with the ſame eaſe and confidence, I ſhould do on a father; who ſupports me, not only in affluence, but ſplendour. And, give me leave to inform your grace, I ſhould never [Page 199] have made myſelf known to you, if I had not been ſo circumſtanced, that it is impoſſible to miſinterpret my motives.’ I curtſied, and left the room, with an air (lady Linfield was pleaſed to call) gracefully majeſtic. Both the ladies followed me into another room, where we preſently took leave of Mrs. Domville, and returned home.

I know my uncle will be pleaſed with his girl's boldneſs on this occaſion: and, though you are not ſo proud as either he or I, I think you will not diſapprove it. Perhaps I ought to have expreſſed ſome gratitude for the proviſion his grace would have made for me; but, I own, I was more hurt than obliged by his intention. I have been almoſt four years ſupported by friendſhip; —but I have not yet learned to give thanks for charity!

I had a letter this evening from the duke of Granville:—it ſurprized me beyond meaſure.

[Page 200]

TO MISS O'BRYEN.

MADAM,

The more I reflect on your behaviour this morning, the more I am charmed with your ſpirit;—a ſpirit ſo becoming my grand-daughter.

Whatever enmity I may have had againſt your parents, I cannot but approve the reſpect you bear to their memories: your mother probably deſerved it from you; and if your father did not, your merit is the greater in paying it.

Your ſeeking a reconciliation with me from motives of diſintereſted duty, raiſes you very high in my eſteem. I ſhall never deſire you to diſobey your father's injunction; but I ſhall find a way, notwithſtanding, of expreſſing the intereſt I take in your welfare.

Lady Caryſbrook and I ſhall wait on you to-morrow morning; and hope to prevail on you, lord and lady Linfield, [Page 201] Mr. Domville, and lady Lucy, to ſpend ſome time with us at Granville-park, where we ſhall go on Friday next.

GRANVILLE.

How mutable is the human mind! The man, that ſix hours ago rejected my acquaintance with ſcorn, now courts it with reſpect! I never expected, through my own pride, to find an advocate in his. I think myſelf extremely fortunate, in having thus ignorantly taken the readieſt—perhaps the only—way to his favour.

I believe we ſhall all accept his invitation.

Farewell, my dear, dear aunt: I long to embrace you.

VALERIA O'BRYEN.

I need hardly tell you, that my ſentiments with reſpect to Sir John's illneſs, are quite ſimilar to yours.

[Page 202]

I AM ſorry to tell you—deuce take this cant!—no, I am neither glad nor ſorry to tell you, that Sir John O'Bryen has departed this life.

"Truly, ſir," you'll ſay, ‘a very feeling and polite manner of informing me of the death of ſo near a relation!’

Come, my dear, no affectation. I know you never loved him; nor had you ever any reaſon: indeed, very few people had.— He lived unloved, and died unlamented. Your father—pardon me, Valeria—your father was a libertine; yet he was loved and reſpected, and deſerved to be ſo. He had a ſoul!—Sir John had none! One would not be ſo uncharitable as to ſay, he has probably by this time found out, to his coſt, that he had one. Of all ſinners, I take a miſer to be the fartheſt out of the road to Heaven. Avarice is the worſt of vices —the moſt incompatible with any degree [Page 203] of virtue: it blunts all the finer feelings; deſtroys every great and generous principle; ſtifles the ſocial diſpoſitions that bind man to man; ſours the temper; and narrows the heart. In compariſon with avarice, I could call other vices the pardonable effects of human frailty; but the miſer breaks that grand law of benevolence, which was originally written by God's own finger on his heart.

Francis O'Bryen—I beg his pardon—Sir Francis O'Bryen is come home. He has apparently profited well by the liberal education he has received, and acquired a knowledge of the world without being corrupted by it. It is with ſingular pleaſure my Caroline ſees this only ſurviving male of her illuſtrious family, ſo well qualified to ſupport the dignity of his houſe. His father has left him a fortune not unworthy of his name: this, without doubt, will be a great advantage to him; but had he been of a different character, it could have been none. The ſunſhine of wealth only ſerves to diſplay a man's virtues, and expoſe his vices, to a larger number of beholders;— [Page 204] it may dazzle the view of fools, but the ſteady eye of reaſon eaſily penetrates the falſe glare. How often have I lamented the folly and ſhort-ſightedneſs of thoſe men, whom I have ſeen heaping up riches for their children, while they denied them ſuch an education as would have enabled them to become a fortune! How cruel it is to ſuffer a youth to grow up in ignorance— perhaps in vice too—and then place him in a conſpicuous point of view, that all the world may perceive his defects! For my part, I think grandeur becomes a clown as ill as a fine ſuit of cloaths would a monkey.

But all this time, I tell you nothing of your legacy:—five hundred pounds! I refuſed this pitiful bequeſt for you, as proudly as you could have done yourſelf. Sir Francis ſaid, it was a miſtake; that the ſum ought—you obſerve the equivocating ought—to have been five thouſand pounds, which he would pay into my hands immediately; and begged I would keep the error of the will a ſecret. I was pleaſed with his generoſity, and ſtill more with the manner of it: but I abſolutely refuſed to [Page 205] deceive you; and aſſured him, that your delicacy would not permit you to receive ſuch an obligation from ſo young a man. He was much chagrined and diſſatisfied at my refuſal:—ſaid, he did not know how to offer you money himſelf; but he hoped there would be no impropriety in his intreating you to accept ſome jewels. He muſt ſuppoſe I thought meanly of him, if I did not prevail on you to take them. He owed you ſome reparation for the injury his father had done your's. I obſerved, that though Sir John had undoubtedly hurt his brother, it was only by exacting a juſt debt.

"A juſt debt Sir!" replied the ſpirited youth; ‘there may be debts, which the law calls juſt, that no man of honour would exact.’

This indirect cenſure on Sir John, is the only one 1 ever heard him pronounce: on the contrary, he treats his memory with great reſpect, though he neither is—nor affects to appear—much afflicted. But as to lady O'Bryen, her grief hardly knows any bounds. God forgive me, for ſuſpecting her of a little hypocriſy. Yet, perhaps, [Page 206] I wrong her:—when a tender connexion is broken, the memory retains and exaggerates all the advantages and pleaſures of it; and the anxieties are totally forgotten. Many a perſon, I believe, has unaffectedly wept for a relation they would not wiſh to recall to life.

Sir Francis has brought a friend with him from Italy. He is a Frenchman; but has none of that vivacity, which is ſuppoſed to characteriſe his nation: he rather ſuits our ideas of the Spaniards; —grave, ſtately, and reſerved. Is it not ſomething ſurprizing, that O'Bryen, whoſe temper is warm, frank, and ſprightly, ſhould chuſe a man of ſo oppoſite a character for his boſom friend? It would be hard to tell by what ſympathy they are ſo cloſely united. The chevalier du Mornai has a fine underſtanding; has thought, read, and ſeen a great deal: but the qualities of the heart are more neceſſary to excite and preſerve affection, than thoſe of the head. I know, however, I am too apt to judge—though I am ſeldom miſtaken in judging—of the interior by the exterior. The coldneſs of du [Page 207] Mornai's manners, is perhaps the reſult of misfortunes: if ſo, his reſerved behaviour does not diſqualify him for friendſhip, though it muſt prove an obſtacle to his forming it.

May I aſk you, my ſweet girl, what is the meaning your aunt does not ſhew me your letters, as ſhe uſed to do; but only reads me paſſages here and there? And I obſerve, neither theſe paſſages, nor the letters you write to me, are dictated by your uſual ſprightlineſs. Ah! Valeria, I ſuſpect —How often have I told you, that the little deity would, ſome time or other, claim his rightful ſovereignty over your rebellious heart? But why may not I be truſted as well as Mrs. Chetwynd? Believe me, ſhe cannot be more tenderly intereſted in any thing that concerns you than I am. I do not recommend my ſex in general to the confidence of your's: —men, to ſay the truth, are rough, groſs, and inſenſible creature; but I am willing to think, that your converſation, and ſo many years paſſed in the ſociety of my Caroline, muſt have poliſhed my manners, and ſoftened my heart. [Page 208] Sure, my love, you are not afraid of my raillery. If I have joked with you upon this or that admirer, 'twas only becauſe I knew you were indifferent to them. I do love to be merry myſelf, and to make others ſo; but never at the expence of any one's feelings:—when a jeſt becomes illnatured, it is no longer a jeſt to me. My deareſt Valeria, if you will admit me into your confidence, I ſhall eſteem it as the higheſt proof you can give me of your friendſhip;—perhaps, too, it may be ſome way in my power to ſerve you: —but if you chuſe to exclude me, you have nothing to do but to paſs over this part of my letter without notice. I ſhall not think I have a ſhadow of right to be offended; —I ſhall acquieſce in ſilence;—I ſhall be convinced you are actuated in this caſe, as in every other, by the beſt and propereſt motives. Nor need you fear that I will endeavour to find out any thing from your aunt. I never expect, nor wiſh, my friends to betray theirs to me,

When may we expect to fee you? I have no patience with the dilatorineſs of theſe Domvilles.

[Page 209] Other men may tell you what they will, Valeria; but, poſitively, your complexion is ſo far from diſgracing the lily or the roſe, —your breath ſo little ſteals their ſweets,— that my flowers blow not half ſo fair in your abſence. Come, charmer, and reſtore them their colour and fragrance:— come, and bring ſmiling peace, and ſweet ſocial joys, to your fond uncle,

CHARLES CHETWYND.

[Page 210]

I WANTED to ſpeak to you, Hannah, and intended to call at my father's this morning for that purpoſe:—am prevented, and therefore take this method of informing you, &c.

I abhor the part of a cenſor, but ſhall act it for your benefit.—You are wretchedly imprudent to ſuffer your paſſion for that Webſter to tranſport you thus beyond the bounds of decorum. Don't laugh, child, at my preaching up decorum; I may do things that won't fuit you:—my man is nooſed—your's free:—freer, perhaps, than you think. I am ſtrangely out in my politics, if he be over ſtrongly attached to you. Should your connection with Webſter take air, you infallibly loſe Marchmont; —a divine fellow!—and a title too! Then if wiſe papa comes to know by what means you have loſt him—packed off to the country immediately:—Another viſit of half a century to the parſonage;—remember [Page 211] the triſte parſonage-houſe,—old, ſnuffiing uncle, with his long noſe, and long ſermons;—our good, formal lady aunt, with her receipts, cordials, plaiſters, and prayer-books;—prim couſin Jenny—But there is no enumerating half the horrors of this diſmal abode of religion and ravens.— Remember them, Hannah; I ſay remember them, and be diſcreet. Beſides, you will be the butt of raillery, cenſure, &c.— You are not of ſufficient conſequence, at preſent, to forſake the ſimple path of virtue: when you are lady Marchmont, do as you pleaſe;—yet, upon honour, it would be a pity to deform ſo fair a forehead. For my part, though I will give my company, and allow a certain degree of familiarity to any pretty fellow, that is willing to purchaſe them at the expence of a little flattery, I know how to keep clear of crim. con. Certainly, one of you grave, ſober miſſes, has five—aye, five and fifty times more craft and miſchief in her compoſition, than ſuch a gay, rattling thing as I am. How artfully you contrived to make me believe you were in love with Sir Edward! [Page 212] nay, ma petite ruſée, did not you make him believe ſo too? Then you deſired me to viſit lady Mary, only that you might have the opportunity of mortifying Webſter, by your contempt and indifference, in revenge for his forſaking you. I was an egregious ſimpleton to ſuffer myſelf to be ſo eaſily taken in. I might have known, either that you were deceived yourſelf, or ſought to deceive me: abſolute indifference, and a violent deſire of revenge—prodigiouſly conſiſtent!— But my reaſoning comes too late; the miſchief is done, and I cannot remedy it. This is the misfortune of being giddy:— one's prudence is mere after-thought. Foreſight, ſay the grave ones, makes a very important part of that comprehenſive thing we call wiſdom;—a very gay character, then, can never be a perfect one. Fly to your eſcritoir,—ranſack all the letters you ever received from me,—and try if you can find a ſingle paſſage in any of them, to match the gravity of this! I muſt conclude, before I diſgrace it by a line of levity.

EMILY CONWAY.

[Page 213]

AH! my Louiſa, how ſhall I tell you, that the Thurſday after next, is fixed for the marriage of my unfortunate friend!— May the merciful hand of Providence turn aſide the miſeries, my foreboding heart tells me await him. I cannot—and to you I need not—deſcribe what I ſuffer on his account. It would afflict me to ſee a ſtranger, with a twentieth part of his merit, in circumſtances of ſuch peculiar unhappineſs:— but when the ſufferer is the friend of my heart!—a man ſo ſingularly worthy!—Oh! Louiſa—

Miſs Ormſby goes into the country tomorrow with a Mrs. Jephſon; a gay, genteel enough, young widow, her mother's relation. She does not return till the day before that appointed for the wedding. Sir Edward means to ſpend the intermediate ſpace at Hermitage: and need I ſay, I ſhall [Page 214] ſeize this opportunity of returning to my adored Louiſa?

I would have had Marchmont come to Poplar-hill, that he might avoid the painful reſtraint he muſt impoſe on himſelf, through the apprehenſion of giving uneaſineſs to a ſiſter, that is ſo juſtly dear to him. He would gladly have complied, but feared Mrs. Wentworth would think he neglected her; and you well know his generous heart never allows his own eaſe or ſatisfaction to enter into competition with that of others.

I have a thouſand things to tell you, but would rather ſpeak than write them. Expect me at dinner to-morrow.

Kiſs Arthur for me.—Adieu.

METHUEN.

[Page 215]

IN what a ſtile do you write to me, Emily! You are the laſt perſon on earth from whom I expected ſuch a lecture. Surely, ſome people think the folly of others brings an acceſſion of wiſdom to themſelves.

You "know how to keep clear—" —Yes, yes, your virtue ſtands very ſecure, becauſe not aſſaulted.

I have read over your letter again. I believe you meant rather to give me a warning, than a reprimand: I ought to excuſe you then; and I do.

You need be under no fear of my loſing my intended. This very morning our wedding was fixed for next week.

You accuſe me of deceiving Sir Edward. —What! you a coquette, and diſallow a little neceſſary hypocriſy! Believe me, however, the tenderneſs I manifeſted to him, was, at firſt, far from being the effect of artifice. When he viſited you at Meadow-vale, I [Page 216] was ſtruck with his beauty, the eaſy majeſty of his fine perſon, his poliſhed manners, his wit, his vivacity, and perhaps, in ſome meaſure, with his rank. Reſentment of Mr. Webſter's cruelty, bade my heart ſeek a kinder maſter. The apprehenſion that my unhappy, guilty connexion with him, though known only to ourſelves and you, might by ſome unforeſeen means become public, induced me to ſeek a ſhelter in matrimony. Sir Edward's charms—rendered more conſpicuous by his extreme ſuperiority to your other viſitors—pointed him out to my choice. I endeavoured to pleaſe him—ſucceeded —and was delighted with my conqueſt. I determined to baniſh his rival from my mind, and give him the preference he deſerved: theſe were my ſentiments when he left us. His tedious viſit to his old-faſhioned ſiſter, his ill-timed excurſion to lord Methuen's ſeat, his coldly polite anſwer to your letter, his unneceſſarily and unaccountably delaying to declare himſelf to my father,—all conſpired to ſtifle the newborn flame, when the firſt poſſeſſor of my affections returned to claim them. He [Page 217] ſwore that he loved me with unabated ardour —that nothing but the fear of bringing me into diſtreſs could have prevented his marrying me—and that neceſſity, alone, had compelled him to give his hand to a woman, who was not only indifferent, but diſagreeable to him. He beſought me to viſit her,—I had long forgotten how to deny him any thing,—I complied;—found her below my jealouſy; and inſenſibly reſumed my firſt ſentiments for this too engaging man. Still, Sir Edward is, as he ever muſt be, the object of my eſteem and admiration: there is no man, on whoſe honour or generoſity I ſhould ſo confidently rely;—more than this I cannot grant him; nor does he deſerve I ſhould, for I am well convinced he is not more attached to me, than I am to him. He is very polite to me, and even attentive; but it is a forced ſort of attention;—there is an aukwardneſs in his tenderneſs, that betrays the affectation of it. To ſay the truth, I ſuſpect him to be pretty much in the ſame predicament with myſelf,—videlicet,—his heart engaged in a wrong place.

[Page 218] This morning, when I mentioned my intended jaunt to Jephſon-lodge, my father deſired I would firſt name the wedding-day; which I did, after ſome little heſitation.— Marchmont turned pale as aſhes—bowed, and ſpoke not a word. About a quarter of an hour after, he thanked me, in a confuſed manner; and begged to know how long I ſhould ſtay in the country. He did not aſk to viſit me there—he did not bid me haſten my return—he expreſſed no curioſity to know who was to be of my party —he did not ſo much as hint a wiſh for a nearer day.—Emily, do you think my heart can melt to ſuch an icy lover as this? The ſprightlineſs that made him ſo agreeable, is entirely flown; his behaviour is ſo grave—his looks, his language, ſo cold— But ſmiles for ever play on my adorable Frederick's face; his words are the warmeſt that ever Cupid dictated:—O, his breath would ‘thaw the conſecrated ſnow that lies on Dian's lap.’

Bab Jephſon has very innocently invited him to ſpend a few days with her. Don't ſhake your head, lady Conway; here is no [Page 219] indiſcretion, no riſk:—his being married, and my approaching marriage, ſufficiently ſcreen us from ſuſpicion. But, Emily, I feel that ſomething more than prudence is neceſſary to ſecure the mind's peace. I do not think a diſcovery poſſible; yet, notwithſtanding, I am tortured with the fear of it. Rightly do the moraliſts ſay, that guilt is it own avenger. Yet, am I not rather unfortunate than criminal? Is not my Frederic rather my huſband than lady Mary's? Of what ſignification is an idle ceremony?

‘"Before true paſſion all thoſe views remove."’

His firſt vows were addreſſed to me: I was—and am—ſole miſtreſs of his heart. Would that this declamation could ſatisfy conſcience! O, that I had timely foreſeen into what an abyſs of ſin and wretchedneſs my firſt error would plunge me! When once we have o'er-leapt the fearful mound that ſeparates virtue from vice,—how hard is it to ſet bounds to the deadly career! I have not fortitude to forſake the flowery [Page 220] path of guilt: why, then, muſt buſy reflection cruelly ſcatter thorns?—Conſcience, avaunt!

‘"My joys are gloomy, but withal are great!"’

Heigh-ho!—How melancholy the ſtillneſs of the night makes one! The family are all aſleep. I hate ſilence. I wiſh I ſlept in one of the ſtreet rooms.

Adieu, ſiſter. Suſan will bring you this tedious ſcribble in the morning. I ſhall call on you before I leave town, if I have time; if not, you'll excuſe me.

HANNAH ORMSBY.

[Page]

I WAS in the right to come here: the retiredneſs of this place ſuits the gloomy ſtate of my mind. My ſweet, melancholy ſiſter, is the fitteſt companion in the world for me; —my heart ſeeks the ſociety of the mourner. My preſence, too, would have caſt a damp over your enjoyments. O, Auguſtus, beware of feeling my misfortunes too deeply. I ſhall never be happy myſelf: —let me always have the conſolation of ſeeing you ſo. Enlarge your treaſure of felicity as much as poſſible: it muſt, for the future, maintain both yourſelf and me.

Harriet is not ſurprized to ſee me ſerious at the eve of ſo ſolemn an event. The ſweet creature puts on chearfulneſs to entertain me. She often talks to me of— of Miſs O'Bryen: that dear, that lovely woman is her correſpondent. Happy Harriet! They love each other with a warmth [Page 222] of friendſhip, which refined minds alone are capable of. My ſiſter delights to ſpeak of her;—to dwell on her praiſes. The ſubject gives me pain; but it is a pain that is dear to my heart: I would not exchange it for pleaſure.

How did you find lady Methuen, and your ſmiling Arthur? My warmeſt thanks are due to her for having ſpared you to me ſo long. You will meet me in London on Wedneſday. Really, my friends, I treſpaſs on your generoſity; but I cannot ſpare you on Thurſday—Thurſday? O God!

My anguiſh deepens as that fatal day approaches. I begin to doubt the principles on which I act. Shall I not do a great and laſting injury to Miſs Ormſby, in making her my wife, incapacitated as I am from ever loving her? Ought I not rather to have ingenuouſly acknowledged my unalterable attachment to another? Yet, how could I do ſo? Would it have been delicate —honourable? Alas! my error—my irretrievable—and, may I ſay, my unavoidable error, lay in my inconſtancy.— Inconſtancy!—I wrong myſelf. No, Methuen, [Page 223] till I ſaw that angel, my heart was ignorant of love:—that dear, that cruel paſſion was totally unknown to me. Infatuating paſſion! miſerable as it has made me, I hardly wiſh—don't think me mad— I hardly wiſh it to be extinguiſhed. A fine writer ſays extremely well—

"There is a pleaſure, ſure,
"In being mad, which none but madmen know."

Yes, in my very pains there is a ſoft, inexpreſſible ſomething, I could almoſt call pleaſure. O love! ſharp and barbed are thy arrows, but they are dipt in ſmooth oil! With what idly-pleaſing dreams does fancy cheat me! A few days more, and this bright flame will be dimmed by guilt. —Here, here, my friend, is the extremeſt malice of my fate. I can never, never ceaſe to love her: and, O, that I might always love with innocence, although it ſhould always be without hope!

Good Heaven!—My ſiſter has this moment received a letter from Miſs [Page 224] O'Bryen. She is going to Ireland—I ſhall never ſee her more!

I am afraid Harriet muſt have perceived the agitation with which I received this cruel intelligence.

The letter came from Granville-park, where ſhe is at preſent. She returns to lord Linfield's in a few days; and from thence will come to Hermitage, to take her final leave of Mrs. Wentworth.

O, Methuen, to loſe even the ſight of her for ever!—But I merit it: I ought to have viſited her in London. What could ſhe think of my apparent negligence?—and that, after ſhe had moſt kindly and politely aſſured me, my ‘eſteem was eſſential to her happineſs.’—The dear creature!

Can I expect ſhe will remember me with friendſhip? Ah! no! I ſhall be—perhaps I already am—the forgotten thing I deſerve to be. Shortly may ſome happier man—The pen drops from my fingers.

I have ſpent this evening in ſtraying through theſe ſilent woods, endeavouring [Page 225] to reaſon down my paſſions. Why do I lament her departure? thought I. Situated as I am, ought I not rather to deſire it? Juſt then, I entered a little arbour;— here I was once bleſt with her ſociety! I threw myſelf—or, indeed, I rather fell—on the verdant turf. I laid my face on the place where ſhe had ſat; and—do not deſpiſe me, Auguſtus—I wept. After a long time, I raiſed my head, and accidentally caſt my eyes on a ſhrub, that grew at the back of the graſſy ſeat, whoſe tender root her friendly care had ſheltered. I leaned over it with affection:—it looked drooping. "I will refreſh you with my tears," ſaid I;—‘but her tears have fallen over you—how can you ever wither?’— My ſiſter, the angelic Valeria, and myſelf, were ſitting in this bower, liſtening to the birds, that perched on the branches around us, warbled forth the praiſes of that charming ſeaſon, when nature, like the phoenix, ariſes with renewed beauty and vigour from her own ruins. Miſs O'Bryen praiſed their wild melody, in words as ſweet as their own notes. The gentle Harriet's mind [Page 226] was melted, even beyond its uſual ſoftneſs. With a countenance at once expreſſive of reſignation and woe, and a tone that knew its way directly to the heart, ſhe repeated thoſe plaintive lines of the melancholy Gray:—

"To warm their little loves the birds complain,
"I fruitleſs mourn to him that cannot hear,
"And weep the more—becauſe I weep in vain!"

Valeria's eyes ſhone through the trembling tears of pity. She turned away her beauteous face;—"Poor little ſhrub," ſaid ſhe, in a low and interrupted voice, ‘you are expoſed to the weather.’ Her white hand gathered up the earth about it. Perhaps her fancy, at that moment, drew a ſort of compariſon between it and Harriet:— "and, O, thou fair and pining flower!" thought ſhe, ‘would that I knew how to reanimate thee! or, rather, would that my hand could thus have timely ſcreened thee from the blighting winds of affliction!’

[Page 227] O my loved ſiſter, how hard has been thy fate! What could have brought down ſo much wrath on thy innocent head?

When this white lamb has bled on ſorrow's altar, how ſhall ſuch an unworthy victim as I am, dare to murmur?

I ſee Mrs. Wentworth's carriage coming up the lawn. She has been viſiting a ſick family in the neighbourhood. I muſt attend her. Farewell, my ever dear friend.

EDWARD MARCHMONT.

[Page 228]

AS I know the affectionate part my dear lady Methuen bears in all my ſorrows, I fly to pour out my full heart to her.— My brother—my dear, my amiable Edward —muſt he be unhappy? This is too much, ye cruel powers! I have hardly a wiſh that does not center in him: he ſupplies to me all the dear relations I have loſt —my parents, huſband, brother, all in one! Muſt he, whoſe ſtudy and delight is to promote the felicity of all around him— whoſe generoſity is the ſource of happineſs to numbers—muſt he be miſerable himſelf? —Louiſa—lord Methuen—I conjure you both, aſſiſt me to extricate him. He ſhall not marry her: I would go any lengths to prevent it. But what can I do, unacquainted as I am with the nature of his engagements to her? Adviſe me; tell me what I ſhall do; for ſomething I muſt, and will [Page 229] do, be it ever ſo extravagant. I cannot be a paſſive ſpectator of his wretchedneſs. Write to me inſtantly, and inform me of all you know: I am certain he would not conceal any thing from my lord or you. —A too generous a compaſſion for my weakneſs, is probably the motive of his reſerve to me. But if you are not his confidante, in how unintelligible a manner am I writing to you!—Let me explain myſelf.

When my charming young friend, Miſs O'Bryen, honoured my little retirement with her preſence, I imagined my brother's heart was fully ſenſible of her uncommon perfections; and I really took great pains to incline her in his favour. I was equally vexed and ſurprized, when he informed me of his intended alliance with Miſs Ormſby; which I thought myſelf in honour bound to make known to Miſs O'Bryen. I did ſo: and reluctantly gave up the pleaſing hope of ſeeing an union between two perſons I thought eminently calculated for each other:

[Page 230] Since he came here laſt, I perceived he was far from having his uſual flow of ſpirits; and though it appeared ſtrange enough, that an event which brings joy to others, ſhould be an occaſion of ſadneſs to him, I was ſo well convinced that I had been miſtaken in his ſentiments, that I ſuſpected nothing.

I had this morning a letter from Miſs O'Bryen, which informed me, that ſhe was to leave England immediately. I expreſſed my concern in lively terms. Edward hardly ſaid any thing; but his looks were to the laſt degree diſcompoſed; and he left the parlour abruptly.

He did not come down ſtairs till ſummoned to dinner, when he affected to appear chearful, though he ſcarcely eat any thing; and diſquiet, and melancholy, were viſibly marked on his countenance.

I was, much to my regret, obliged to ſpend the evening abroad.

On my return home, I found him ſtill leſs himſelf than he had been in the morning. His looks ſpoke neither contentment [Page 231] nor health: he was abſent, ſilent, and almoſt ſtupid.

When the ſervants were withdrawn after ſupper, I took a chair by him; filled his glaſs, and put it into his hand: he bowed, and drank the wine without ſpeaking.

"You are ill, Edward," ſaid I.

"My head aches a little."

"Alas!—I fear your heart aches too!"— He ſpoke not; but ſighed—deeply ſighed —and leaned his dear face on my ſhoulder.

"Something preys on your mind!"

"Nothing, my dear ſiſter."

‘Indeed there does! and you ſhall not hide it from me. You have been a ſharer in all my ſorrows; you taught me to ſupport them—Have I not then a right to partake of your's?’

He raiſed his head with ſome degree of briſkneſs:—‘Harriet, you can remove the grief you ſeek to know. I have a very lively friendſhip for Miſs —’. He ſtopt; and faulteringly pronounced—‘O'Bryen. You have told me ſhe is dependant; I cannot bear that [Page 232] ſhe ſhould remain ſo. I dare not offer to make her otherwiſe; ſhe would refuſe me; perhaps I ſhould even offend.— When I die, I cannot leave her any thing conſiderable, without ſubjecting her to the cenſures of an ill-natured, miſconſtruing world. I ſhould be inexpreſſibly happy, if I could transfer Miſs Ormſby's fortune to her. Will you endeavour to prevail on her to accept forty thouſand pounds, as from yourſelf? at leaſt the greateſt part of that ſum: leſs than twenty would be nothing. I need not tell you, that you muſt proceed in the moſt genteel and delicate manner.’—I looked on him earneſtly.—‘If you love me, if you value my peace, oblige me in this.’ So ſaying, he aroſe, and haſtily wiſhed me a good night.

He has "a lively friendſhip" for her; I doubt it not; for I feel that ſhe has every qualification, both of underſtanding and heart, requiſite to inſpire and preſerve that refined ſentiment. But think you not, my dear Louiſa, that this lively friendſhip is joined to a much more lively paſſion? Can [Page 233] his tumultuous ſenſations flow from tranquil friendſhip? Why do I aſk? He unqueſtionably loves her. He has too much fire to love with moderation—too much ſtability to leave one room to doubt the durableneſs of his paſſion—and, I may very juſtly add, that Miſs O'Bryen is too charming, and too worthy, not to be loved with ardour and conſtancy. What then, but certain and unceaſing miſery, can await his union with any other woman, however amiable?

This marriage ſhall never be, if I can prevent it. I am ſorry for the pain I muſt give Miſs Ormſby; but it is impoſſible for me to conſider her intereſt—or any body's intereſt —in oppoſition to Edward's. A hand, without a heart, could not be acceptable to her, if ſhe be a woman of delicacy and honour: if not, ſhe is little worth being anxious about; and very, very unworthy ſuch a huſband as Sir Edward Marchmont.

I have ordered Thomas, who is to carry this letter, to ſet off for Poplar-hill by daybreak to-morrow. Let me have your anſwer immediately. Direct me, my ſenſible [Page 234] friend: I am wholly at a loſs how to proceed; matters have been carried ſo far— But the happineſs of my dear—unſpeakably dear—brother, is at ſtake. Nothing ſhall diſcourage me.

It is needleſs to aſſure lady Methuen, how truly I am her friend.

HARRIET WENTWORTH.

END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.