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on such a subject as this, to find it a long one. Had Sir Hargrave known me better than he does, six lines might have been sufficient.
MR BAGENHALL gave me yours on Saturday last, just as I was stepping into my chariot to go out of town. Neither the general contents, nor the time mentioned in it, made it necessary for me to alter my measures. My sister was already in the chariot. I had not done well to make a woman uneasy. I have many friends; and I have great pleasure in promoting theirs. I promised an answer on Monday.
My answer is this-I have ever refused (and the occasion has happened too often) to draw my sword upon a set and formal challenge. Yet I have reason to think, from the skill I pretend to have in the weapons, that, in declining to do so, I consult my conscience rather than my safety.
Have you any friends, Sir Hargrave? Do they love you? Do you love them? Are you desirous of life for their sakes? for your own? Have you enemies to whom your untimely end would give pleasure?-Let these considerations weigh with you: they do, and always did, with me. I am cool: you cannot be
The cool person, on such an occasion as this, should put the warm one on thinking: this, however, as you please.
But one more question let me ask you-If you think I have injured you, is it prudent to give me a chance, were it but a chance, to do you a still greater injury?
You were engaged in an unlawful enterprize. If you would not have done by me in the same situation, what I did by you, you are not, let me tell you, Sir Hargrave, the man of honour, that a man of honour should be solicitous to put upon a foot with himself.
I took not an unmanly advantage of you, Sir Hargrave: you drew upon me: I drew not in return. You had a disadvantage in not quitting your chariot; after the lunge you made at me, you may be thankful that I made not use of it. I should not have been sorry, had I been able to give the lady the protection she claimed, with less hurt to yourself. For I could have no malice in what I did: although I had, and have still, a just abhorrence of the violence you were guilty of to a helpless woman; and who, I have found since, merited better treatment from you; and indeed merits the best from all the world; and whose life was endangered by the violence. I write a long letter, because I propose only to write. Pardon me for repeating, that the men who have acted, as you and I have acted, as well with regard to the lady as to each other, cannot, were their principles such as would permit them to meet, meet upon a foot.
Let any man insult me upon my refusal, and put me upon my defence, and he shall find that numbers to my single arm shall not intimidate me. Yet, even in that case, I would much rather choose to clear myself of them as a man of honour should wish to do, than either to kill or maim any man. My life is not my own: much less is another man's mine. Him who thinks differently from me, I can despise as heartily as he can despise me. And if such a one imagines that he has a title to my life, let him take it: but it must be in my own way, not in his.
In a word, if any man has aught against me, and will not apply for redress to the laws of his country, my goings out, and comings in, are always known; and I am any hour of the day to be found, or met with, wherever I have a proper call. My sword is a sword of defence, not of offence. A pistol I only carry on the road, to terrify robbers: and I have found a less dangerous weapon sometimes sufficient to repel a sudden insult. And now, if Sir Hargrave Pollexfen be wise, he will think himself obliged for this not unfriendly expostulation, or whatever he pleases to call it, to His most humble servant,
Mr Reeves besought Sir Charles to let him shew me these letters. You may, Mr Reeves, said he; since I intend not to meet Sir Hargrave in the way he prescribes.
As I asked not leave, my Lucy, to take copies of them, I beg they may not be seen out of the venerable circle.
I know I need not say how much I am pleased with the contents of the letter: I doubt not but you all will be equally so: yet, as Sir Charles himself expects not that Sir Hargrave will rest the matter here; and indeed says he cannot, consistently with the vulgar notions of honour; do you think I can be easy, as all this is to be placed to my account?
But it is evident that Sir Charles is. He is governed by another set of principles, than those of false honour; and shews what his sister says to be true, that he regards first his duty, and then what is called honour. How does the knowledge of these his excellencies raise him in my mind! Indeed, Lucy, I seem sometimes to feel, as if my gratitude had raised a throne for him in my heart; but yet as for a near friend, as a beloved brother only. My reverence for him is too great-Assure yourself, my dear, that this reverence will always keep me right.
Sir Charles and Mr Reeves returning into company, the conversation took a general turn. But, oppressed with obligations as I am, I could not be lively. My heart, as Miss Grandison says, is, I believe, a proud one. And when I thought of what might still happen, (who knows, but
from assassination, in resentment of some very spirited strokes in Sir Charles's letter, as well as from the disgrace the wretch must carry in his face to the grave?) I could not but look upon this fine man, who seemed to possess his own soul in peace, sometimes with concern, and even with tender grief, on supposing, that now, lively and happy as he seemed to be, and the joy of all his friends, he might possibly, and perhaps in a few hours-How can I put down my horrid thoughts!
At other times, indeed, I cast an eye of some pleasure upon him, (when he looked another, way,) on thinking him the only man on earth, to whom, in such distress, I could have wished to owe the obligations I am under to him. His modest merit, thought I, will not make one uneasy: he thinks the protection afforded but a common protection. He is accustomed to do great and generous things. I might have been obliged to a man whose fortune might have made it convenient for him to hope such advantages from the risk he run for me, as prudence would have made objections to comply with, not a little embarrassing to my gratitude.
But here my heart is left free. And O! thought I, now-and-then, as I looked upon him, Sir Charles Grandison is a man with whom I would not wish to be in love. I, to have so many rivals! he, to be so much admired! Women ought to stay till they are asked, as Miss Grandison once said; his heart must be proof against those tender sensations, which grow into ardour, and glow, in the bosom of a man pursuing a first and only love.
I warrant, my Lucy, if the truth were known, although Sir Charles has at Canterbury, or at one place or other, his half-score ladies, who would break their hearts if he were to marry, yet he knows not any one of them whom he loves better than another. And all but right! All but justice, if they will not stay till they are asked!
Miss Grandison invited Mr and Mrs Reeves, and me, to dinner, on Wednesday, and for the rest of the day and evening. It was a welcome invitation.
The Countess expressed herself pleased with me. Poor and spiritless as was the figure which I made in this whole visit, her prepossession in my favour from Miss Grandison must have been very great and generous.
And will you not, before now, have expected, that I should have brought you acquainted with the persons of Lord and Lady L——, as I am accustomed to give you descriptions of every one to whom I am introduced?
To be sure we have, say you.
Well, but my mind has not always been in tune to gratify you. And, upon my word, I am so much humbled with one thing, and another, that I have lost all that pertness, I think, which used to give such a liveliness to my heart, and
alertness to my pen, as made the writing-task pleasant to me, because I knew that you all condescended to like the flippant airs of your Harriet.
Lady L is a year older than Sir Charles; but has that true female softness and delicacy in her features, which make her perfectly lovely; and she looks to be two or three years younger than she is. She is tall and slender; and enjoys the blessing of health and spirits in a high degree. There is something of more dignity and sprightliness in the air and features of Miss Grandison, than in those of Lady L-- ; but there is in those of the latter so much sweetness and complacency, that you are not so much afraid of her as you are of her sister. The one you are sure to love at first sight; the other you will be ready to ask leave to let you love her; and to be ready to promise that you will, if she will spare you; and yet, whether she will or not, you cannot help ít.
Lady L― is such a wife, I imagine, as a good woman should wish to be thought. The behaviour of my lord to her, and of her to my lord, is free, yet respectful; affectionate, but not apishly fond. One sees their love for each other in their eyes. All love-matches are not happy; this was a match of love; and does honour to it. Everybody speaks of Lady L with equal affection and respect, as a discreet and prudent woman. Miss Grandison, by her livelier manner, is not so well understood in those lights as she ought to be; and, satisfied with the worthiness of her own heart, is above giving herself concern about what the world thinks of it.
Lord L is not handsome; but he is very agreeable. He has the look of an honest good man; and of a man of understanding. And he is what he looks to be. He is genteel, and has the air of a true British nobleman; one of those, I imagine, that would have been respected by his appearance and manners, in the purest times, a hundred or two years (or how long?)
I am to have the family history of this lord and lady on both sides, and of their loves, their difficulties, and of the obligations they talk of being under to their brother; to whom both my lord and lady behave with love that carries the heart in every word, in every look.
What, my dear, shall we say to this brother? Does he lay everybody that knows him under obligation? And is there no way to be even with him in any one thing? I long to have some intimate conversation with Miss Grandison, by which I shall perhaps find out the art he has of making everybody proud of acknowledging an inferiority to him.
I almost wish I could, while I stay in town, devote half my time to this amiable family; without breaking in upon them so much as to be thought impertinent. The other half ought
to be with my kind cousins Reeves. I never shall make them amends for the trouble I have given them.
How I long for Wednesday, to see all the family of the Grandisons!-They are all to be there-On several accounts I long for that day; yet this Sir Hargrave
I have written, my dear, as usual, very unreservedly. I know that I lie more open than ever to my uncle's observations. But if he will not allow for weakness of heart, of head, and for having been frightened out of my wits, and cruelly used; and for farther apprehensions; and for the sense I have of obligations that never can be returned; why then I must lie wholly at his mercy-But if he should find me to be ever so silly a creature, I hope he will not make his particular conclusions general in disfavour of the sex.
Adieu, my dear Lucy!-And you, adieu all the dear and reverend friends, benefactors, lovers, of your
MRS SELBY TO MISS HARRIET BYRON.
Selby-House, Feb. 25.
MY DEAREST HARRIET, ALTHOUGH We have long ago taken a resolution never to dictate to your choice; yet we could not excuse ourselves, if we did not acquaint you with any proposal that is made to us, on your account, that you might encourage it, or otherwise, as you thought fit.
The dowager Lady D wrote me a letter some time ago, (as you will see by the date,) but insisted, that I should keep the contents a secret in my own bosom, till she gave me leave to reveal it. She has now given me that leave, and requested that I will propose the matter to you. I have since shewn what has passed between her ladyship and me, to your grandmamma, Mr Selby, and Lucy. They are all silent upon it; for the same reasons that I give you not my opinion; that is to say, till you ask it.
But do we not see, my dearest child, that something has happened, within a very few days past, that must distance the hope of every one of your admirers, as they come to be acquainted with the circumstances and situation you are now in? My dear love, you will never be able to resist the impulses of that gratitude which always opened and expanded your worthy heart. Your uncle's tenderness for you, on such a prospect, has made him suppress his inclination to rally you. He professes to pity you, my dear. While, says he, the sweet girl was vaunting herself, and refusing this man, and dismissing that; and imagining herself out of the reach of the deity, to which, sooner or later, all women
bow; I spared her not; but now, that I see she is likely to be over head and ears in the passion, and has so much to be said for her excuse, if she is caught; and as our side must perhaps be the hoping side, the gentleman's the triumphant; I pity her too much for what may be the case, to teaze her with any animadversions; especially after what she has suffered from the vile Sir Hargrave.
By several hints in your letters, it is impossible, my dear, that we can be beforehand with your inclinations. Young women in a beginning love are always willing to conceal themselves from themselves; they are desirous to smother the fire, before they will call out for help, till it blazes, and frequently becomes too powerful to be extinguished by any help. They will call the passion by another name; as gratitude, suppose; but, my Harriet, gratitude so properly founded as yours is, can be but another name for love. The object so worthy, your own heart so worthy, consent of minds must bring it to love on one side; perhaps on both, if the half-score of ladies you have heard of, are all of them but mere moderns. But that, my dear, is not to be supposed; since worthy hearts find out, and assimilate with, each other. Indeed, those ladies may be such as are captivated with outward figure. A handsome man need not to have the great qualities of a Sir Charles Grandison, to engage the hearts of the generality of our sex. But a good man, and a handsome man, if he has the vivacity that distinguishes Sir Charles, may marry whom he pleases. If we women love a handsome man, for the sake of our eye, we must be poor creatures indeed, if we love not good men, for the sake of our hearts.
What makes us apprehensive for you, my Harriet, is this; that we every one of us are in love ourselves with this fine young gentleman. Your uncle has fallen in with Mr Dawson, an attorney of Nottingham, who acts for Sir Charles in some of his affairs; and gives him such a character, respecting his goodness to his tenants and dependents only, as will render credible all that even the fondest love, and warmest gratitude, can say in his praise.
We can hardly tell sometimes how to regret (though your accounts of your sufferings and danger cut us to the heart as we read them) the base attempt of Sir Hargrave. Were all to end as we wish, we should not regret it; but that, my Harriet, is our fear. What will become of me, said your grandmamma, if, at last, the darling of my heart should be entangled in a hopeless passion!
If this is likely to be the case, while the fire I spoke of is but smothering, and while but here and there a spark escapes your struggling efforts to keep it down, resolve, my dear, to throw cold water on it, and quench it quite. And how is this to be done, but by changing your personal
friendship with the amiable family, into a correspondence by pen and ink, and returning to our longing arms, before the flame gets ahead?
When you are with us, you may either give hope to the worthy Orme, or encourage the proposal I enclose, as you please.
As you are not capable of the mean pride of seeing a number of men in your train, and have always been uneasy at the perseverance of Mr Fenwick and Mr Greville-As you have suffered so much from the natural goodness of your heart, on the urgency of that honest man Sir Rowland Meredith in his nephew's favour; and still more from the baseness of that wicked Sir Hargrave-As your good character and lovely person engage you more and more admirersAnd, lastly, as it would be the highest comfort that your grandmamma, and your uncle, and I, and all your friends and well-wishers, could know, to see you happily married-We cannot but wish for this pleasure and satisfaction. The sooner you give it to us, the better.
But could there be any hope-You know what I mean-A royal diadem, my dear, would be a despicable thing in the comparison.
Adieu, my best love. You are called upon, in my opinion, to a greater trial than ever yet you knew, of that prudence for which you have hitherto been so much applauded by every one, and particularly by
Your truly maternal
THE COUNTESS DOWAGER OF D
TO MRS SELBY.
[Enclosed in the preceding.]
GIVE me leave, madam, to address myself to you, though personally unknown, on a very particular occasion; and, at the same time, to beg of you to keep secret, even from Mr Selby, and the party to be named as still more immediately concerned in the subject, till I give my consent; as no one creature of my family, not even the Earl of D—, my son, does, or shall from me, till you approve of it.
My lord has just entered into his twentyfifth year. There are not many better young men among the nobility. His minority gave an opportunity to me, and his other trustees, to put him in possession, when he came of age, of a very noble and clear estate; which he has not impaired. His person is not to be found fault with. He has learning, and is allowed to have good sense, which every learned man has not. His conduct, his discretion, in his travels, procured him respect and reputation abroad. You
may make inquiry privately of all these matters.
We are, you must believe, very solicitous to have him happily married. He is far from being an undutiful son. Indeed he was always dutiful. A dutiful son gives very promising hopes of making a good husband. He assures me that his affections are disengaged, and that he will pay the most particular regard to my recommendation.
I have cast about for a suitable wife for him. I look farther than to the person of a woman; though my lord will by no means have beauty left out in the qualifications of a wife. I look to the family to whom a lady owes her education and training up. Quality, however, I stand not upon. A man of quality, you know, confers quality on his wife. An ancient and good gentleman's family is all I am solicitous about in this respect. In this light, yours, madam, on all sides, and for many descents, is unexceptionable. I have a desire, if all things shall be found to be mutually agreeable, to be related to it; and your character, as the young lady has been brought up under your eye, is a great inducement with me.
Your niece Byron's beauty, and merit, as well as sweetness of temper, are talked of by everybody. Not a day passes, but we hear of her to her great advantage. Now, madam, will you be pleased to answer me one question, with that explicitness which the importance of the case, and my own intended explicitness to you, may require from woman to woman; especially, as I ask it of you in confidence?
Are, then, Miss Byron's affections absolutely disengaged? We are very nice, and must not doubt in this matter.
This is the only question I will ask at present. If this can be answered as I wish, others, in a treaty of this important nature, will come into consideration on both sides.
The favour of a line, as soon as it will suit your convenience, will oblige,
of this county, have respectively made application to us for our interest, and to Miss Byron for her favour; but hitherto without effect; though the terms each proposes might entitle him to consideration.
Miss Byron professes to honour the married state, and one day proposes to make some man happy in it, if it be not his own fault; but declares, that she has not yet seen the man to whom with her hand she can give her heart.
In truth, madam, we are all neutrals on this occasion. We have the highest opinion of her discretion. She has read, she has conversed; and yet there is not in the country a better housewife, or one who would make a more pru dent manager in a family. We are all fond of her, even to doting. Were she not our child, we should love her for her good qualities, and sweetness of manners, and a frankness that has few examples among young women.
Permit me, madam, to add one thing; about which, Miss Byron, in her turn, will be very nice. Your ladyship is pleased to say, that my lord's affections are disengaged. Were his lordship a prince, and hoped to succeed with her, they must not be so, after he had seen and conversed with her. Yet the future happiness, and not pride, would be the consideration with her; for she has that diffidence in her own merits, from which the worthy of both sexes cannot be totally free. This diffidence would increase too much for her happiness, were she to be thought of with indifference by any man on earth, who hoped to be more than indifferent to her.
As to other questions, which, as this is answered, your ladyship thinks may come to be asked, I choose, un-asked, (having no reserves,) to acquaint your ladyship, that Miss Byron has not, in her own power, quite 15,000l. She has, it is true, reversionary expectations; but we none of us wish that they should for many years take place; since that must be by the death of Mrs Shirley, her grandmother, who is equally revered and beloved by all that know her; and whose life is bound up in the happiness of her grand-daughter.
I will strictly obey your ladyship in the secrecy enjoined; and am,
Your ladyship's obliged and faithful humble servant, MARIANNA SELBY.
THE COUNTESS DOWAGER OF D
TO MRS SELBY.
the condition of a small estate he has there; which he finds capable of great improvement; and about which he has given proper orders.
I took the first opportunity to question him in relation to his inclinations to marriage, and whether he had a regard to any particular woman; and having received an answer to my wishes, I mentioned Miss Byron to him, as a young lady that I should think, from the general good character that she bore, would make him an excellent wife.
He said, he had heard her much talked of, and always to her advantage. I then shewed him, as in confidence, my letter, and your answer. There can be, said I, (on purpose to try him,) but one objection on your part; and that is fortune; 15,000l. to a nobleman, who is possessed of 12,000l. a-year, and has been offered four times the portion, may be thought very inadequate. The less to be stood upon, replied he, where the fortune on my side is so considerable. The very answer, my dear Mrs Selby, that I wished him to make.
I asked him, if I should begin a formal treaty with you, upon what he said. He answered that he had heard from every mouth so much said in the praise of Miss Byron's mind, as well as person, that he desired I would; and that I would directly endeavour to obtain leave for him to visit the young lady.
I propose it accordingly. I understand, that she is at present in London. I leave it to your choice, madam, and Mrs Shirley's, and Mr Selby's, (to whom now, as also to Miss Byron, you will be so good as to communicate the affair,) whether you will send for her down to receive my lord's visit and mine: or whether we shall wait on her in town.
I propose very high satisfaction to myself, if the young people approve of each other, in an alliance so much to my wishes in every respect. I shall love the Countess of D- as well as any of you can do Miss Byron; and as she has not at present a mother, I shall with pleasure supply that tender relation to her, for the sake of so many engaging qualities, as common fame, as well as good Mrs Selby, says she is mistress of.
You will dispatch an answer as to the interview. I am impatient for it. I depend much upon the frankness of the young lady, which you make a part of her agreeable character. And am,
Your affectionate and faithful humble servant, MD
I SHOULD Sooner have answered yours, had I not waited for the return of my son, who had taken a little journey into Wales, to look into