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not permit him to think of the contents till then; but that the writer should not fail of such an answer as a gentleman ought to give.
Now, madam, I was so much charmed with Sir Charles Grandison's fine person and politeness, and his character is so extraordinary, that I thought this interval between this night and Monday morning a happy one. And I took it into my head to make the above proposal to you; and I hope you will think it behoves you, as much as it does me, to prevent the fatal mischief that may otherwise happen, to men of their consideration.
I have not the honour of being personally known to you, madam; but my character is too generally established for any one to impute to me any other motives for this my application to you, than those above given. A line left for me at Sir Hargrave's, in Cavendish Square, will come to the hands of,
Your most obedient humble servant, JAMES BAGENHALL.
O MY DEAR! what a letter !-Mr Reeves, Mrs Reeves, are grieved to the heart. Mr Reeves says, that, if Sir Hargrave insists upon it, Sir Charles is obliged, in honour, to meet him.Murderous, vile word, honour! What, at this rate, is honour? The very opposite to duty, goodness, piety, religion; and to everything that is, or ought to be, sacred among men.
How shall I look Miss Grandison in the face? Miss Grandison will hate me! To be again the occasion of endangering the life of such a brother!
But what do you think?-Lady Betty is of opinion-Mr Reeves has consulted Lady Betty Williams, in confidence-Lady Betty says, that if the matter can be prevented-Lord bless me! she says, I ought to prevent it!-What! by becoming the wife of such a man as Sir Hargrave! so unmanly, so malicious, so low a wretch!-What does Lady Betty mean?-Yet, were it in my power to save the life of Sir Charles Grandison, and I refused to do it; for selfish reasons refused; for the sake of my worldly happiness; when there are thousands of good wives, who are miserable with bad husbands-But will not the sacrifice of my life be acceptable by this sanguinary man! That, with all my heart, would I make no scruple to lay down. If the wretch will plunge a dagger in my bosom, and take that for satisfaction, I will not hesitate one moment.
But my cousin said, that he was of opinion, that Sir Charles would hardly be brought to ask pardon. How can I doubt, said I, that the vile man, if he may be induced by this Bagenhall to compromise on my being his wife, will. dispense with that punctilio, and wreak on me, were I to be his unhappy property, his whole unmanly vengeance? Is he not spiteful, mean,
malicious?-But, abhorred be the thought of my yielding to be the wife of such a man!— Yet, what is the alternative? Were I to die, that wretched alternative would still take place; his malice to the best of men, would rather be whetted than blunted by my irrevocable destiny! O, my Lucy! violent as my grief was, dreadful as my apprehensions were, and unmanly as the treatment I met with from the base man, I never was distressed till now!
But, should Miss Grandison advise, should she insist upon my compliance with the abhorred condition, (and has she not a right to insist upon it, for the sake of the safety of her innocent brother?) can I then refuse my compliance with it? Are we not taught that this world is a state of trial, and of mortification? And is not calamity necessary to wean our vain hearts from it? And, if my motive be a motive of justice and gratitude, and to save a life much more valuable to the world than my own; and which, but for me, had not been in danger -Ought I-And yet-Ah! my Lucy, what can I say?-How unhappy! that I cannot consult this dear lady, who has such an interest in a life so precious, as I might have done, had she been
O, Lucy! what an answer, as this unwelcome, this wicked mediator gives it, was that which the excellent man returned to the delivered challenge" I am going to meet dear friends on their return from Scotland!" What a meeting of joy will be here saddened over, if they know of this shocking challenge! and how can his noble heart overflow with pleasure on this joyful occasion, as it would otherwise have done, with such an important event in suspense, that may make it the last meeting which this affectionate and most worthy of families will ever know! How near may be the life of this dear brother to a period, when he congratulates the safe arrival of his brother and sister! And who can bear to think of seeing, ere one week is over-past, the now rejoicing and harmonious family, clad in mourning for the first of brothers, and first of men? and I, my Lucy, I, the wretched Harriet Byron, to be the cause of all!
And could the true hero say, "That the pleasure he should have on meeting his long absent friends, would not permit him to think of the contents of such a letter till Monday; but that then the writer should not fail of such an answer-as a gentleman ought to give?"—O, my dear Sir Charles! [on this occasion he is, and ought to be, very dear to me, how I dread the answer which vile custom, and false honour, will oblige you, as a gentleman, to give! And is there no way with honour to avoid giving such an answer, as distracts me to be told (as Mr Reeves tells me) must be given, if I, your Harriet, interpose not, to the sacrifice of all my happiness in this life?
But, Mr Reeves asks, may not this Bagen
hall, though he says Sir Hargrave knows nothing of his writing, have written in concert with him?-What if he has, does not the condition remain? and will not the resentment, on the refusal, take place?-And is not the challenge delivered into Sir Charles's hands? And has he not declared, that he will send an answer to it on Monday? This is carrying the matter beyond contrivance or stratagem. Sir Charles, so challenged, will not let the challenger come off so easily. He cannot, in real honour, now, make proposals for qualifying; or accept of them, if made to him. And is not Monday the next day but one?-Only that day between, for which I have been preparing my grateful heart to return my silent praises to the Almighty, in the place dedicated to his honour, for so signal a deliverance! and now is my safety to be owing, as it may happen, to a much better person's destruction!
I WAS obliged to lay down my pen.-See how the blistered paper-It is too late to send away this letter; if it were not, it would be barbarous to torment you with it, while the dreadful suspense holds.
I AM unable to write on in the manner I used to do. Not a moment all the night past did I close my eyes. How they are swelled with weeping! I am preparing, however, to go to church; there will I renew my fervent prayers, that my grateful thanksgiving for the past deliverance may be blessed to me in the future event!
Mr Reeves thinks that no step ought to be, or can be, taken in this shocking affair, till Sir Charles returns, or Miss Grandison can be consulted. He has taken measures to know every motion of the vile Sir Hargrave.
Lord bless me, my dear! the man has lost three of his fore-teeth! A man so vain of his person! O, how must he be exasperated!
Mr Reeves also will be informed of Sir Charles's arrival the moment he comes to town. He has private information, that the furious Sir Hargrave has with him a man skilled in the science of offence, with whom he is practising -O, my dear, how this distracts me!
For Mr Reeves or me to answer this Bagenhall, Mr Reeves says, is not to be thought of, as he is a wicked man, and was not likely to have written the alarming letter from good principles. I once, indeed, proposed to write-I knew not what to do, what to propose.-Can you write, said Mr Reeves, and promise or give hope to Sir Hargrave?
O, no, no! answered I.
If you could, it is my opinion, that Sir Charles and his sister would both despise you,
however self-denying and laudable your motive might be.
Monday Morning, Feb. 27. WHAT a dreadful day was yesterday to me; and what a still worse night had I, if possible, than the former! My prayers, I doubt, cannot be heard, since they have not that affiance with them that they used to be attended with. How happy was I before I came to London! I cannot write; I cannot do anything. Mr Reeves is just informed, that Sir Charles and Lord L- and the two sisters, arrived in town late last night. O, my Lucy, to return such an answer, I doubt, as Sir Charles thinks a gentleman ought to send. Good heaven! how will this day end?
Eight o'clock. I HAVE received this moment the following billet.
MY DEAR HARRIET,
PREPARE yourself for a new admirer. My sister L and I are resolved to breakfast with you, unless you forbid us by the bearer. If we find you to have made an attempt to alter your usual morning appearance, we shall suspect you of a desire to triumph over us in the consciousness of your superior graces. It is a sudden resolution. You should have had otherwise notice last night; and yet it was late before we came to town.-Have you been good? Are you quite recovered? But in half an hour, I hope to ask you an hundred thousand questions.
Compliments to our cousins.
HERE is a sweet sprightly billet. Miss Grandison cannot know, the Countess cannot know, anything of the dreadful affair, that has given to my countenance, and I am sure will continue on it, an appearance, that, did I not always dress when I arose for the morning, would make me regardless of that Miss Grandison hints at.
What joy, at another time, would the honour of this visit have given us! But, even now, we have a melancholy pleasure in it; just such a one as the sorrowing friends of the desperate sick experience, on the coming in of a longexpected physician, although they are in a manner hopeless of his success. But a coach stops
I ran to the dining-room window. O, my dear! it is a coach! but only the two ladies! Good God!-Sir Charles at this moment, my boding heart tells me
My heart is a little lighter; yet not unapprehensive Take my narrative in course, as I shall endeavour to give you the particulars of everything that passed in the last more than agreeable three hours.
I had just got down into the great parlour before the ladies entered. Mr Reeves waited on them at their coach. He handed in the Countess. Miss Grandison, in a charming humour, entered with them. There, Lady L-, first know our cousin Reeves, said she
The Countess, after saluting Mrs Reeves, turned to me-There, Lady L- said Miss Grandison, that's the girl! that's our Harriet! -Her ladyship saluted me-But, how now! said Miss Grandison, looking earnestly in my face. How now, Harriet ?-Excuse me, Lady L, (taking my hand,) I must reckon with this girl; leading me to the window-How now, Harriet?-Those eyes!-Mr Reeves, cousin, Mrs Reeves!-What's to do here?
Lively and ever-amiable Miss Grandison, thought I, how will, by and by, all this sweet sunshine in your countenance be shut in!
Come, come, I will know, proceeded she, making me sit down, and taking my hand as she sat by me, her fan in the other hand; I will know the whole of the matter.-That's my dear, for I tried to smile-An April eye-Would to Heaven the month was come which my Harriet's eye anticipates!
I sighed. Well, but why that heavy sigh? said she.-Our grandmother Shirley
I hope, madam, is very well.
Our aunt Selby? Our uncle Selby? Our Lu
All well, I hope.
What a deuce ails the girl then? Take care I don't have cause to beat you!-Have any of your fellows hanged themselves?—and are you concerned they did not sooner find the rope? but come, we will know all by and by.
Charlotte, said the Countess approaching me, [I stood up,] you oppress our new sister: I wish, my dear, you would borrow a few of our younger sister's blushes. Let me take you out of this lively girl's hands: I have much ado to keep her down, though I am her elder sister. Nobody but my brother can manage her.
Miss Grandison, madam, is all goodness. We have been all disturbed, said Mrs Reeves, [I was glad to be helped out, in the fear that Sir Hargrave Pollexfen
O, madam! he dare not; he will not:-he'll be glad to be quiet, if you'll let him, said the Countess.
Not a word, I dare say.
You must believe, ladies, said I, that I must be greatly affected, were anything likely to hap pen to my deliverer; as all must have been laid at my door. Such a family harmony to be interrupted
Come, said Miss Grandison, this is very good of you: this is like a sister: But I hope my brother will be here by and by.
And Lord L, added the obliging Countess, wants to see you, my dear. Come, my love, if Charlotte is naught, he will make a party against her; and she shall be but my second best sister. I hope my lord and Sir Charles will come together, if they can but shake off wicked Everard, as we call a kinsman, whom Sir Charles has no mind to introduce to you, without your leave.
But we'll not stay breakfast for them, said Miss Grandison: they were not certain; and desired we would not.-Come, come, get us some breakfast; Lady L has been up before her hour; and I have told you, Harriet, that I am an early riser. I don't choose to eat my glovesBut I must do something to divert my hunger: and, stepping to the harpsichord, she touched the keys in such a manner, as shewed she could make them speak what language she pleased.
I attended to her charming finger: so did every one. But breakfast coming in-No, but I won't, said she, anticipating our requests; and continuing the air by her voice, ran to the table: Hang ceremony, said she, sitting down first; let slower souls compliment: and, taking some muffin, I'll have breakfasted before these pray madams, and pray my dears, are seated.
Mad girl! Lady L called her. Mrs Reeves, are always her airs with us: but I thought she would have been restrained by the example of her sister Harriet. We have utterly spoiled the girl by our fond indulgence. But, Charlotte, is a good heart to be everywhere pleaded for a whimsical head?
Who sees not the elder sister in that speech? replied Miss Grandison: but I am the most generous creature breathing; yet nobody finds it out. For why do I assume these silly airs, but to make you, Lady L-, shine at my expense?
Still, Lucy, the contents of that Bagenhall's letter hung heavy at my heart. But, as I could not be sure but Sir Charles had his reasons for concealing the matter from his sisters, I knew not how to enter directly into the subject: But, thought I, cannot I fish something out for the quiet of my own heart; and leave to Sir Charles's
discretion the manner of his revealing the matter to his sisters, or otherwise?
Did your ladyship, said I to Lady L arrive on Saturday I knew not how to begin] at the hospitable house at Colnebrook, my asylum ?
I did: and shall have a greater value for that house than ever I had before, for its having afforded a shelter to so valuable a lady.
You have been told, ladies, I suppose, of that Wilson's letter to Sir Charles?
We have: and rejoice to find that so deep a plot was so happily frustrated.
His postscript gives me concern.
That Sir Hargrave breathed nothing but revenge.
Sir Charles told us nothing of that: but it is not unlikely that a man so greatly disappointed should rave and threaten. I am told that he is still, either by shame or illness, confined to his chamber.
At that moment a chariot stopped at the door : and instantly, It is Lord L, and Sir Charles with him, said Miss Grandison.
I dared not to trust myself with my joy. hurried out at one of the doors, as if I had forgot something, as they entered the other. I rushed into the back parlour-Thank God! thank God! said I-My gratitude was too strong for my heart: I thought I should have fainted.
Do you wonder, Lucy, at my being so much affected, when I had been in such a dreadful suspense, and had formed such terrible ideas of the danger of one of the best of men, all owing to his serving and saving me?
Surprises for joy, I fancy, and where gratitude is the principal spring, are sooner recovered from than surprises which raise the more stormy passions. Mrs Reeves came in to me: My dear! your withdrawing will be noticed. I was just coming in, said I: and so I was. went in..
Sir Charles bowed low to me: so did my lord. Permit me, madam, said Sir Charles, to present Lord L- to you: he is our brotherOur late-found sister Harriet, my lord.
Yes, but Sir Charles, said Miss Grandison, Miss Byron, and Mr and Mrs Reeves, have been tormenting themselves about a postscript to that footman's letter. You told not us of that postscript.
Who minds postscripts, Charlotte? Except, indeed, to a lady's letter. One word with you, good Miss Byron; taking my hand, and leading me to the window.
How the fool coloured! I could feel my face glow.
O, Lucy! what a consciousness of inferiority fills a mind not ungenerous, when it labours under the sense of obligations it cannot return!
My sister Charlotte, madam, was impatient
to present to you her beloved sister. Lady Lwas impatient to attend you. My Lord L was equally desirous to claim your acquaintance. They insisted upon introducing my lord. I thought it was too precipitate a visit, and might hurt your delicacy, and make Charlotte and me appear, as if we had been ostentatiously boasting of the opportunities that had been thrown into our hands, to do a very common service. I think I see you are hurt. Forgive me, madam, I will follow my own judgment another time. Only be assured of this, that your merits, and not the service, have drawn this visit upon you.
I could not be displeased at this polite address, as it helped me to an excuse for behaving so like a fool, as he might think, since he knew not the
You are very obliging, sir. My Lord and Lady L- do me great honour. Miss Grandison cannot do anything but what is agreeable to me. In such company, I am but a common person: but my gratitude will never let me look upon your seasonable protection as a common service. I am only anxious for the consequence to yourself. I should have no pretence to the gratitude I speak of, if I did not own that the reported threatenings, and what Wilson writes by way of postscript, have given me disturbance, lest your safety, on my account, be brought into hazard.
Miss Byron speaks like herself: but, whatever were to be the consequences, can you think, madam, that a man of any spirit could have acted otherwise than I did? Would I not have been glad, that any man would have done just the same thing, in favour of my sister Charlotte? Could I behave with greater moderation? I am pleased with myself on looking back; and that I am not always: there shall be no consequence follow, that I am not forced upon in my own necessary defence.
We spoke loud enough to be heard and Miss Grandison, joining us, said, But pray, brother, tell us if there be any grounds to apprehend anything from what the footman writes?
You cannot imagine but Sir Hargrave would bluster and threaten. To lose such a prize, so near as he thought himself to carrying his point, must affect a man of his cast: but are ladies to be troubled with words? Men of true courage do not threaten.
Shall I beg one word with you, Sir Charles? said my cousin Reeves.
They withdrew to the back parlour; and there Mr Reeves, who had the letter of that Bagenhall, shewed it to him.
He read it a very extraordinary letter! said he; and gave it back to him-But pray, what says Miss Byron to it?-is she willing to take this step in consideration of my safety?
You may believe, Sir Charles, she is greatly distressed.
As a tender-hearted woman, and as one who thinks already much too highly of what was done, she may be distressed: but does she hesitate a moment upon the part she ought to take? does she not despise the writer and the writing? -I thought Miss Byron
He stopt, it seemed, and spoke and looked warm; the first time, said Mr Reeves, that I thought Sir Charles, on occasion, passionate.
I wish, Lucy, that he had not stopt. I wish he had said what he thought Miss Byron. I own to you, that it would go to my heart, if I knew that Sir Charles Grandison thought me a mean
You must think, Sir Charles, that Miss By
Pray, Mr Reeves, forgive me for interrupting you; what steps have been taken upon this letter?
my passion under: but I have suffered too much in my after-regret, when I have been hurried away by it, not to endeavour to restrain its first sallies.
I hope, sir, you will not meet
I will not meet any man, Mr Reeves, as a duellist: I am not so much a coward, as to be afraid of being branded for one. I hope my spirit is in general too well known, for any one to insult me on such an imputation. Forgive the seeming vanity, Mr Reeves: but I live not to the world: I live to myself; to the monitor within me.
Mr Reeves applauded him with his hands and eyes; but could not in words. The heart spoke these last words, said my cousin. How did his face seem to shine in my eyes!
There are many bad customs, Mr Reeves, that I grieve for: but for none so much as this of premeditated duelling. Where is the magnanimity of the man that cannot get above the vul
It has not been honoured with notice; not gar breath? How many fatherless, brotherless, with the least notice?
It had not.
And could it be supposed by these mean men, (all men are mean, Mr Reeves, who can be premeditatedly guilty of a baseness,) that I would be thought to ask pardon, for my part in this affair? No man, Mr Reeves, would be more ready than myself to ask pardon, even of my inferior, had I done a wrong thing: but never should a prince make me stoop to disavow a right one.
But, Sir Charles, let me ask you, has Sir Hargrave challenged you? Did this Bagenhall bring you a letter?
Sir Hargrave has: Bagenhall did: but what of that, Mr Reeves? I promised an answer on Monday. I would not so much as think of setting pen to paper on such an account, to interrupt for a moment the happiness I had hoped to receive in the meeting of a sister and her lord, so dear to me. An answer I have accordingly sent him this day.
You have sent him an answer, sir!-I am in great apprehensions
You have no reason, Mr Reeves, I do assure you. But let not my sisters, nor Lord Lknow of this matter. Why should I, who cannot have a moment's uneasiness upon it, for my own sake, have the needless fears and apprehensions of persons to whom I wish to give nothing but pleasure, to contend with? An imaginary distress, to those who think it more than imaginary, is a real one: and I cannot bear to see my friends unhappy.
Have you accepted, sir-Have you
I have been too much engaged, Mr Reeves, in such causes as this: I never drew my sword but in my own defence, and when no other means could defend me. I never could bear a designed insult. I am naturally passionate. You know not the pains it has cost me, to keep
sonless families have mourned all their lives the unhappy resort to this dreadful practice! A man who defies his fellow-creature into the field, in a private quarrel, must first defy his God; and what are his hopes, but to be a murderer; to do an irreparable injury to the innocent family and dependents of the murdered ?—But since you have been let into the matter so far, by the unaccountable letter you let me see, I will shew you Sir Hargrave's to me.-This is it, pulling it out of his pocket-book.
You did well, Sir Charles Grandison, to leave your name. My scoundrels were too far off their master to inform themselves by the common symbols, who the person was that insulted an innocent man (as to him innocent, however) on the highway. You expected to hear from me, it is evident; and you should have heard before now, had I been able, from the effects of the unmanly surprise you took advantage of, to leave my chamber. I demand from you the satisfaction due to a gentleman. The time your own; provided it exceed not next Wednesday; which will give you opportunity, I suppose, to settle your affairs; but the sooner the better. The place, if you have no objections, Kensington Gravel-pits. I will bring pistols for your choice; or you may for mine, which you will. The rest may be left to my worthy friend Mr Bagenhall, who is so kind as to carry you this, on my part; and to some one whom you will pitch upon, on yours. Till when, I am
Your humble servant,
I have a copy of my answer somewhere-Here it is. You will wonder, perhaps, Mr Reeves,