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I long to know, as I said once before, the particulars of what Sir Charles has done, to oblige everybody in so high a manner. Don't you, Lucy? Bless me! what a deal of time have I wasted since I came to town! I feel as if I had wings, and had soared to so great a height, that every thing and person that I before beheld without dissatisfaction, in this great town, looks diminutive and little, under my aching eye. Thus, my dear, it must be in a better world, if we are permitted to look back upon the highest of our satisfactions in this.
I was asked to give them a lesson on the harpsichord after tea. Miss Grandison said, Come, come, to prevent all excuses, I will shew you the way.
Let it then be, said Mr Grandison, Shakespeare's Cuckow. You have made me enter with so much comparative shame into myself, that I must have something lively to raise my spirits. Well, so it shall, replied Miss Grandison. Our poor cousin does not know what to do with himself when you are got a little out of his reach.
That is not fair, Charlotte, said Sir Charles. It is not that graceful manner of obliging, in which you generally excel. Compliance and reflection are not to be coupled.
Well, well, but I will give the good man his Cuckow, to make him amends.
Accordingly she sung that ballad from Shakespeare; and with so much spirit and humour, as delighted everybody.
Sir Charles being a judge of music, I looked a little sillier than usual, when I was again called
Come, my dear, said the kind Countess, I will prepare you a little farther. When you see your two elder sisters go before you, you will have more courage.
She sat down, and played one of Scarlatti's lessons; which, you know, are made to shew a fine hand. And surely, for the swiftness of her fingers, and the elegance of her manner, she could not be equalled.
It is referred to you, my third sister, said Sir Charles, who had been taken aside by Mr Reeves; some whispering talk having passed between them,] to favour us with some of Handel's music: Mrs Reeves says, she has heard you sing several songs out of the Pastoral, and out of some of his finest Oratorios.
Come hither, come hither, my sweet Harriet -Here's his Alexander's Feast: my brother admires that, I know; and says it is the noblest composition that ever was produced by man; and is as finely set as written.
She made me sit down to the instrument. As you know, said I, that great part of the beauty of this performance arises from the proper transitions from one different strain to an
other, any one song must lose greatly, by being taken out of its place; and I fear
Fear nothing, Miss Byron, said Sir Charles : your obligingness, as well as your observation, entitle you to all allowances.
I then turned to that fine air,
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures, Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
Which not being set so full with accompanying symphonies, as most of Mr Handel's are, I performed with the more ease to myself, though I had never but once before played it over.
They all, with more compliments than I dare repeat, requested me to play and sing it once
Dare repeat! methinks I hear my uncle Selby say, the girl that does nothing but repeat her own praises, comes with her If I dare repeat!
Yes, sir, I answer; for compliments that do not elevate, that do not touch me, run glibly off my pen: but such as indeed raise one's vanity; how can one avow that vanity by writing them down?-But they were resolved to be pleased before I began.
One compliment, however, from Sir Charles, I cannot, I find, pass over in silence. He whispered Miss Grandison, as he leaned upon my chair, how could Sir Hargrave Pollexfen have the heart to endeavour to stop such a mouth as that!
AND now, having last night, and this morning, written so many sides, it is time to break off. Yet I could give you many more particulars of agreeable conversation that passed, were I sure you would not think me insufferably tedious; and did not the unkind reserve of my cousin Reeves, as to the business of that Bagenhall, rush upon my memory with fresh force, and help to tire my fingers. I am the more concerned, as my cousin himself seems not easy; but is in expectation of hearing something, that will either give him relief, or add to his pain.
Why, Lucy, should our friends take upon themselves to keep us in the dark, as to those matters which it concerns us more to know than perhaps anybody else? There is a tenderness sometimes shewn on arduous occasions, in this respect, that gives as much pain, as we could receive from the most explicit communication. And then, all the while, there is so much strength of mind, and discretion, supposed in the person that knows an event, and such weakness in her that is to be kept in ignorance, that-But I grow as saucy as impatient. Let me conclude, before I expose myself to reproof for a petulance, that I hope is not natural to your
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Thursday Night, March 2. AND what do you think was the reason of Mr Reeves's reserves? A most alarming one. I am obliged to him, that he kept it from me, though the uncertainty did not a little affect me. Take the account of it, as it comes out.
I told you in my former, that the person to whom Sir Charles was sent for out, was Mr Bagenhall; and that Sir Charles had sent in for Mr Reeves, who returned to the company, with a countenance that I did not like so well as I did Sir Charles's. I now proceed to give you, from minutes of Mr Reeves, what passed on the occasion.
Sir Charles took Mr Reeves aside-This unhappy man, (Sir Hargrave, I mean,) said he, seems to me to want an excuse to himself, for putting up with a treatment which he thinks disgraceful. When we have to deal with children, humours must be a little allowed for. But you will hear what the proposal is now. Let not the ladies, however, nor the gentlemen, within, know anything of the matter till all is over. This is a day devoted to pleasure. But you, Mr Reeves, know something of the matter; and can answer for your fair cousin.
He then led Mr Reeves in to Mr Bagenhall. This, sir, is Mr Reeves.-Sir Hargrave, in short, Mr Reeves, among other demands that I cannot comply with, (but which relate only to myself, and therefore need not be mentioned,) insists upon an introduction to Miss Byron. He says, she is absolutely disengaged-Is she, sir? I dare say she is, answered my cousin. This gentleman has been naming to me Mr Greville, Mr Orme, and others.
No one of them has ever met with the shadow of encouragement from my cousin. She is above keeping any man in suspense, when she is not in any herself. Nothing has given her more uneasiness than the number of her admirers.
Miss Byron, said Sir Charles, must be admired by every one that beholds her; but still more by those who are admitted to the honour of conversing with her. But Sir Hargrave is willing to build upon her disengagement something in his own favour. Is there any room for Sir Hargrave, who pleads his sufferings for her; who vows his honourable intentions even at the time that he was hoping to gain her by so unmanly a violence; and appeals to her for the purity, as he calls it, of his behaviour to her all the time she was in his hands-who makes very large offers of settlements-Is there any room to hope, that Miss ByronNo, none at all, Sir Charles
What! not to save a life, Mr Reeves?said Mr Bagenhall.
If you mean mine, Mr Bagenhall, replied Sir Charles, I beg that may not be considered. If Sir Hargrave means his own, I will pronounce that it is safe from any premeditated resentment of mine. Do you think Miss Byron will bear to see Sir Hargrave, Mr Reeves? I presume he intends to beg pardon of her. Will she consent to receive a visit from him?-But is not this wretched trifling, Mr Bagenhall?
You will remember, Sir Charles, this is a proposal of mine: what I hoped might be agreed to by Sir Hargrave; but that I was willing to consult you before I mentioned it to him.
I beg your pardon, Mr Bagenhall: I now remember it.
If ever man doted upon a woman, said Mr Bagenhall, it is Sir Hargrave on Miss Byron. The very methods he took to obtain her for a wife, shew that most convincingly.—You will promise not to stand in his way, sir?
I repeat, Mr Bagenhall, what I have heretofore told you, that Miss Byron (You'll excuse me, Mr Reeves) is still under my protection. If Sir Hargrave, as he ought, is inclined to ask her pardon; and if he can obtain it, and even upon his own terms; I shall think Miss Byron and he may be happier together, than at present I can imagine it possible. I am not desirous to be any way considered, but as her protector from violence and insult; and that I will be, if she claim it, in defiance of a hundred such men as Sir Hargrave. But then, sir, the occasion must be sudden: no legal relief must be at hand. I will not, either for an adversary's sake, or my own, be defied into a cool and premeditated vengeance.
But, Sir Charles, Sir Hargrave has some hardships in this case. You will not give him the satisfaction of a gentleman: and, according to the laws of honour, a man is not entitled to be treated as a gentleman, who denies to one
Of whose making, Mr Bagenhall, are the laws of honour you mention? I own no laws, but the laws of GoD and my country. But, to cut this matter short, tell Sir Hargrave, that, little as is the dependence a man of honour can have upon that of a man, who has acted by a helpless woman, as he has acted by Miss Byron, I will breakfast with him in his own house to-morrow morning, if he contradicts it not. I will attribute to the violence of his passion for the lady, the unmanly outrage he was guilty of. I will suppose him mistaken enough to imagine, that he should make her amends by marriage, if he could compel her hand; and will trust my person to his honour, one servant only to walk before his door, not to enter the house, to attend my commands, after our conversation is over. My sword, and my sword only, shall be my companion: but this rather, that I would not be thought to owe my safety to the want of it,
than in expectation, after such confidence placed in him, to have occasion to draw it in my own defence. And pray, Mr Bagenhall, do you, his friend, be present; and any other friends, and to what number he pleases.
When I came to this place in my cousin's minutes, I was astonished; I was out of breath upon it.
Mr Bagenhall was surprised; and asked Sir Charles, if he were in earnest?
I would not be thought a rash man, Mr Bagenhall. Sir Hargrave threatens me: I never avoid a threatener. You seem to hint, sir, that I am not entitled to fair play, if I consent not to meet him with a murderous intention. With such an intention I never will meet any man; though I have as much reason to rely on the skill of my arm, as on the justice of my cause. If foul play is hinted at, I am no more safe from an assassin in my bedchamber, than in Sir Hargrave's house. Something must be done by a man who refuses a challenge, to let a challenger see (such is the world, such is the custom) that he has better motives than fear, for his refusal. I will put Sir Hargrave's honour to the fullest test: Tell him, sir, that I will bear a great deal; but that I will not be insulted, were he a prince. And you really would have me
I would, Mr Bagenhall. Sir Hargrave, I see, will not be satisfied, unless something extraor dinary be done: and, if I hear not from you, or from him, I will attend him by ten to-morrow morning, in an amicable manner, to break fast at his own house in Cavendish Square.
I am in terror, Lucy, even in transcribing only. Mr Reeves, said Sir Charles, you undo me, if one word of this matter escape you, even to your wife.
Mr Reeves begged that he might attend him to Sir Hargrave's.
By no means, Mr Reeves.
Then, Sir Charles, you apprehend danger. I do not. Something, as I said, must be done. This is the shortest and best method to make all parties easy. Sir Hargrave thinks himself slighted. He may infer, if he pleases, in his own favour, that I do not despise a man, in whom I can place such a confidence. Do you, Mr Reeves, return to the company; and let no one know the occasion of your absence, or of mine, from it.
I have told you, my dear, what a difference there was in the countenances of both, when each separately entered the dining-room. And could this great man, (surely I may call him great,) could he, in such circumstances, on his return, give joy, pleasure, entertainment, to all the company, without the least cause of suspicion of what had passed?
Mr Reeves, as I told you, singled out Sir Charles in the evening, to know what had passed after he left him and Mr Bagenhall. Sir Charles acquainted him, that Mr Bagenhall had
Don't give yourself concern about the matter, Mr Reeves. All must end well. My intention is, not to run into mischief, but to prevent it. My principles are better known abroad, than they are in England. I have been challenged more than once by men, who knew them, and thought to find their safety from them. I have been obliged to take some extraordinary steps to save myself from insult; and those steps have answered my end, in more licentious countries than this. I hope this step will preserve me from calls of this nature in my own country. For God's sake, Sir Charles
Be not uneasy on my account, Mr Reeves. Does not Sir Hargrave value himself upon his fortune? He would be loath to forfeit it. His fortune is my security. And am I not a man of some consequence myself? Is not the affair between us known? Will not, therefore, the cause justify me, and condemn him? The man is turbulent; he is uneasy with himself; he knows himself to be in the wrong. And shall a man, who resolves to pay a sacred regard to laws di vine and human, fear this Goth? 'Tis time enough to fear, when I can be unjust. If you value my friendship, as I do yours, my good Mr Reeves, proceeded he, I shall be sure of your absolute silence. I will attend Sir Hargrave by ten to-morrow morning. You will hear from me, or see me at your own house, by twelve.
And then it was, as Mr Reeves tells me, that Sir Charles turned from him, to encourage me to give the company a lesson from Dryden's Alexander's Feast.
Mr Reeves went out in the morning. My cousin says, he had been excessively uneasy all night. He now owns, he called in St James's Square, and there breakfasted with Lord and Lady L, Miss Grandison, Miss Emily, and Dr Bartlett. Sir Charles went out at nine, in a chair; one servant only attending him: the fa mily knew not whither. And his two sisters were fomenting a rebellion against him, as they humorously called it, for his keeping from them (who kept nothing from him) his motions, when they and my lord were together, and at his house: but my lord and Miss Emily pleasantly refused to join in it. Mr Reeves told us, on his return, that his heart was so sunk, that they took great notice of his dejection.
About three o'clock, just as Mr Reeves was determined to go to St James's Square again, and, if Sir Charles had not been heard of, to Cavendish Square, (though irresolute what to do when there,) the following billet was brought him from Sir Charles. After what I have writ ten, does not your heart leap for joy, my Lucy?
THEN it was, that, vehemently urged both by my cousin and me, Mr Reeves gave us briefly the cause of his uneasiness.
About six o'clock, Sir Charles came in a chair. He was charmingly dressed. I thought him, the moment he entered, the handsomest man I ever saw in my life. What a transporting thing must it be, my Lucy, to an affectionate wife, without restraint, without check, and performing nothing but her duty, to run with open arms to receive a worthy husband, returning to her after a long absence, or from an escaped danger! How cold! how joyless!-But no! I was neither cold nor joyless; for my face, as I felt it, was in a glow; and my heart was ready to burst with congratulatory meaning, at the visible safety, and unhurt person, of the man who had laid me before under such obligations to him, as were too much for my gratitude. O do not, do not tell me, my dear friends, that you love him, that you wish me to be his. I shall be ready, if you do, to wish -I don't know what I would say: but your wishes were always the leaders of mine.
Mrs Reeves, having the same cause for apprehension, could hardly restrain herself when he entered the room. She met him at the door, her hand held out, and with so much emotion, that Sir Charles said, How well, Mr Reeves, you have kept my secret!-Mr Reeves told him what uneasiness he had laboured under from the preceding evening; and how silent he had been, till his welcome billet came.
Then it was that both my cousins, with equal freedom, congratulated him.
And I'll tell you how the fool, the maiden fool, looked and acted. Her feet insensibly moved to meet him, while he was receiving the freer compliments of my cousins. I courtesied bashfully; it was hardly noticeable; and, because unnoticed, I paid my compliments in a deeper courtesy. And then, finding my hand in his, when I knew not whether I had a hand or not-I am grieved, sir, said I, to be the occasion, to be the cause-And I sighed for one reason, (perhaps you can guess what that was,) and blushed for two; because I knew not what to say, nor how to look; and because I was under obligations which I could not return.
He kindly saved my farther confusion, by making light of what had passed; and, leading me to a seat, took his place by me.
May I ask, Sir Charles?-said my cousin Reeves, and stopt.
The conversation was too tedious, and too various, to be minutely related, Mr Reeves. But Sir Hargrave had, by Mr Bagenhall's desire, got his short-hand writer in a closet; and that unknown to me, till all was over. I am to have a copy of what passed. You shall see it, if you please, when it is sent me. Mean time, what think you of a compromise at your expense, Miss Byron?
I dare abide by everything that Sir Charles Grandison has stipulated for me.
It would be cruelty to keep a lady in suspense, where doubt will give her pain, and cannot end in pleasure. Sir Hargrave is resolved to wait upon you: Are you willing to see him? If, sir, you will advise me to see him.
I advise nothing, madam. Pursue your inclinations. Mr Reeves is at liberty to admit whom he pleases into his house: Miss Byron to see in it, or wheresoever she is, whom she pleases. I told him my mind very freely; but I left him determined to wait on you. I have reason to believe he will behave very well. I shall be surprised, if he does not in the humblest manner ask your pardon; and yours, Mr Reeves, and your lady's. But if you have any apprehensions, madam, (to me,) I will be ready to attend you at five minutes' notice, before he shall be admitted to your presence.
It is very good, sir, said Mr Reeves, to be ready to favour Miss Byron with your countenance, on such an occasion. But I hope we need not give you that trouble in this house.
Sir Charles went away soon after; and Mr Reeves has been accusing himself ever since, with answering him too abruptly, though he meant nothing but the truest respect. And yet, as I have written it, on re-perusal, I don't above half like Mr Reeves's answer. But where high respect is entertained, grateful hearts will always, I believe, be accusing themselves of imperfections, which none other see, or can charge them with.
As Sir Charles is safe, and I have now nothing to apprehend but Sir Hargrave's visit, I will dispatch this letter, with assurances that I am, my dear Lucy,
Your ever affectionate
MISS HARRIET BYRON TO MISS LUCY SELBY.
Friday, One o'clock, March 3. SIR CHARLES has just sent the impatiently expected paper, transcribed by the short-hand
writer from his minutes of the conversation that passed on Sir Charles's intrepid visit at Sir Hargrave's. Intrepid, I call it; but had I known of it, as Mr Reeves did, before the event, in some measure, justified the rashness, I should have called it rash, and been for proposing to send peace-officers to Cavendish Square, or taking some method to know whether he were safe in his person; especially when three o'clock approached; and his dinner-time is earlier than that of most other people of fashion.
Mr Reeves has been so good as to undertake to transcribe this long paper for me, that I may have time to give you an account of three particular visits which I have received. I asked Mr Reeves, if it were not a strange way of proceeding in this Bagenhall to have his short-hand writer, and now turned listener, always with him? He answered, it was not an usual way; but, in cases of this nature, where murder, and a trial, were expected to follow the rashness, in a court of justice, he thought it carried with it, though a face of premeditation, yet a look of fairness; and there was no doubt but the man had been in bad scrapes before now, and was willing to use every precaution for the future.
On Thursday morning, March the 2d, 17—. I Henry Cotes, according to notice given me the preceding evening, went to the house of Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, baronet, in Cavendish Square, about half an hour after eight in the morning, in order to take minutes, in short-hand, of a conversation that was expected to be held between the said Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, and Sir Charles Grandison, baronet, upon a debate between the said gentlemen; on which I had once before attended James Bagenhall, esquire, at the house of the said Sir Charles Grandison in St James's Square; and from which consequences were apprehended, that might make an exact account of what passed of great importance. I was admitted, about nine o'clock, into the withdrawing-room; where were present the said Sir Hargrave, the said James Bagenhall, Solomon Merceda, esquire, and John Jordan, esquire; and they were in full conversation about the reception that was to be given to the said Sir Charles Grandison; which not being a part of my orders or business, I had no command to take down; but the contrary. And that I might, with the less interruption, take minutes of the expected conversation, I was ordered to place myself in a large closet adjoining to the said withdrawing-room, from which it was separated by a thin wainscot partition; but, lest the said Sir Charles should object to the taking of the said minutes, I was directed to conceal myself there till called forth; but to take the said minutes fairly
and truly, as, upon occasion, I would make oath to the truth thereof.
About half an hour after nine o'clock, I heard Mr Bagenhall, with an oath, that denoted, by the voice, eagerness and surprise, say, Sir Charles was come. And immediately a footman entered, and said, "Sir Charles Grandison!"
Then three or four of the gentlemen spoke together pretty loud and high; but what they said I thought not in my orders to note down. But this is not improper to note; Sir Hargrave said, Give me that pair of pistols, and let him follow me into the garden. By Ghe shall take one!
No, no! I heard Mr Merceda say; who, being a foreigner, I knew his voice from the restNo, no! That must not be.
And another voice, I believe, by the lisp, it was Mr Jordan's, say, Let us, Sir Hargrave, hear what a man so gallant has to say for himself. Occasions may arise afterwards.
Mr Bagenhall, whose voice I well knew, said, D-n his blood, if a hair of Sir Charles Grandison's head should be hurt on this visit! Do I, d-n ye all, said Sir Hargrave, offer any thing unfair, when I would give him the choice of the pistols?
What! in your own garden! A pretty story, whichsoever drops! said Mr Merceda. The devil's in it, if he may not be forced now to give you the satisfaction of a gentleman elsewhere.
Desire Sir Charles (d-n his blood, said Sir Hargrave) to come in. And then [as I saw through a knot-hole, that I just then, hunting for a crack in the wainscot-partition, discovered] Sir Charles entered; and I saw, that he looked very sedate and cheerful; and he had his sword by his side, though in a morning-dress. And then the conversation began, as follows:
Sir Ch. Your servant, Sir Hargrave. Mr Bagenhall, yours. Your servant, gentlemen.
Mr Bag. Yours, Sir Charles. You are a man of your word. This gentleman is Mr Jordan, Sir Charles. This gentleman is Mr Merceda.
Sir Ch. Mr Merceda!-I have heard of Mr Merceda.-I have been very free, Sir Hargrave, to invite myself to breakfast with you.
Sir Har. Yes, by G-! And so you have before now. Have you anybody with you, sir? If you have, let them walk in.